"GHARB - GOZO" Gharb by micajo

Gharb Travel Guide: 26 reviews and 70 photos

Gharb is probably one of the oldest Gozitan villages, where various archaeological excavations exposed the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements in the area. The Phoenicians were early settlers, but the name Gharb is purely Arabic, denoting the establishment of an early but organised community during Arab domination between 870 and 1090 AD.

In ancient times and to a certain extent even today, Gharb was populated by country folk who earned their livelihood by toiling the rather fertile fields in the vicinity. They retained a typical old Maltese dialect, which has a rich vocabulary of old words and pronunciations most of them discarded by the rest of the Maltese population. The people of Gharb are also renowned craftsmen mostly famous for the manufacture of the unique "Gharb blade", a typical sharp knife popularly known across the Maltese Islands and afar as the "Sikkina ta' l-Gharb". Amongst Gharb folk one still finds worthy, blacksmiths, locksmiths, cotton weavers and lace manufacturers, carpenters and masters in cane-works. They are also able fishermen, while some surviving shepherds produce the best Gozo Cheese on the Island.

Gharb is the second oldest village parish in Gozo.

The village of Gharb has other churches and chapels that intertwine in traditional legends and religious devotion. One of these chapels is dedicated to St.Demetrius and lies near the westernmost cliffs of the island also known unimaginatively as Cape of St. Demetrius. Legend has it that Turkish raiders once stole the son of a local lady called Sgugina. After the poor mother wept her distress in front of the titular painting in the chapel, St. Demetrius was seen riding his horse out of the painting, then charging the Turks and returning Sgugina's son to safety.

The most popular Shrine on Gozo, the one dedicated to Our Lady of Ta' Pinu also lies within the perimeter of Gharb. This architectural masterpiece was built next to an old chapel (still existing), where it is profoundly believed that back in 1883, Our Lady has spoken to a devotee from Gharb named Karmni Grima. Ta' Pinu Sanctuary is a place of great devotion and is of national importance. Numerous pilgrims, both locals and tourists visit Ta' Pinu Shrine all year round.

Gharb also offers the visitor a modest number of curious museums. Two of these museums where the restored residences of two of the saintly sons of the village, namely Karmni Grima who started the Ta' Pinu devotion, and that of Frenc Mercieca, popularly known as Frenc ta' l-Gharb. Frenc ta' l-Gharb was a wise but rather humble saintly man who lived between 1892 and 1967. He had a distinct ability to cure a lot of people leaving several doctors of the day perplexed by his successes. He combined his old knowledge in old medicinal herbs, his prayers and his faith in Our Lady for his cures, and his reputation spread rapidly throughout the entire Maltese Islands and even abroad.

Another attraction of the village of Gharb is the Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village, where various handcrafts are made and sold. Visitors can find hand-made pottery, mouth-blown glass, Gozo lace and filigree. Gharb is the place where glass blowing and pottery could be watched being made.

With all the above attractions, Gharb is the village that the visitor to Gozo should not miss. Its panoramic countryside tracks and valleys are ideal for walks and for relaxing. There, a spectacular natural "window", not as exploited, but similar to the Azure Window of Dwejra is found. Otherwise one could opt to sit relaxed in the peaceful and picturesque village square, enjoying the view of the church, the lethargic strokes of its clock tower, or curiously study the unique shape of old hand sculptured balconies that adorn the village's oldest homes.

  • Intro Written Jun 12, 2008
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