The Citadella, Gozo
|Victoria, Gozo, Malta|
|Condition||Walls remain, some parts of the city in ruins|
|Built||c.1500 BC (first fortifications)
15th century-1603 (current fortifications)
|Built by||Crown of Aragon
Order of Saint John
|Battles/wars||Invasion of Gozo (1551)|
The Citadella, also known as the Citadel is a historic fortified city or castle which lies in the heart of Victoria, Gozo, Malta. The Citadella is on Malta's tentative list of future World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, who describe it as a small fortified town.
The area is known to have been first fortified during the Bronze Age c. 1500 BC. It was later developed by the Phoenicians and continued development until, by Roman times, it had become a complex Acropolis. During the Middle Ages it was known as the Gran Castello. Up until Fort Chambray was built in the 18th century it was the only fortified refuge against attack for the inhabitants of the island.
The northern side of the Citadel dates back to the period of the Crown of Aragon. The massive defensive stone walls of the fortifications which rise above the town and were built to protect the village communities from foraging corsairs attempting to take slaves and threatening invasion of Muslim forces fighting Christendom. In July 1551 an Ottoman force under Dragut attacked the Citadel, which succumbed with little resistance. The entire population of Gozo, which numbered to about 5000 to 6000 people, had taken refuge within its walls, and they were all taken as slaves except for about 300 people who managed to climb down the walls and escape. Large parts of the castle were reduced to ruins in the attack and the southern walls were rebuilt between 1599 and 1603 by the Order of Saint John.
Within its walls lies a fine 17th century baroque Cathedral designed by Lorenzo Gafà, the Maltese architect who also built the Cathedral of Mdina. It is said that it lies on the site where a Roman temple dedicated to Juno once stood. It is most famous for the remarkable trompe l'oeil painting on its ceiling, which depicts the interior of a dome that was never built. There is another church dedicated to St Joseph and a chapel known as Saint Barbara within the Walls. In the latter various people are buried, including Vittorio Cassar, the son of the famous architect Girolamo Cassar.
The Old Prison is located within the citadel, as are the Courts of Justice.
The northern part of the Citadella now lies in ruins, while the southern section where the cathedral is located is intact. The walls were recently restored to their former glory.
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