Xewkija - Church Of St John The Baptist, Gozo
Often seen dominating the landscape of Gozo is the huge church - the Rotunda church - at the village of Xewkija. We didn't actually go to the village but we sure saw the big dome! The dome is comparable to St Peter's in Rome and St Paul's in London and it measures 28 m in diameter and 75 m high.
This church is one of the most beautiful in the whole of the Maltese Islands.
Xewkija is one of the oldest Gozitan Villages. After the 2nd World War, the Xewkija parishioners, who are traditionally renowned for their building abilities and craftsmanship on Maltese stone, expressed their wish to construct a new and majestic Parish Church. Architect Joseph D'Amato, inspired by the famous Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute in Venice, drew the plans. The first stone was laid down in 1951. Many donations were offered, and free labour by the people was forthcoming all the time.
The monumental church is an enormous circular structure in white local limestone. Because of its form it is called The Rotunda
The enormous circular structure of the new church in Xewkija, built in honey-colored Malta limestone, it is called Rotunda because of its form.
Four columns and four niches with statues on two levels flank the main entrance door, which is 10m high by 4.8m wide.
Once you enter the Rotunda you cannot stop being amazed about its beauty. The Rotunda is 64m long and 43m wide inside.
The fantastic dome with an outer circumference of 85m is supported by 8 columns, while the church has 16 large windows in the lower section and another 16 in the lantern.
The Main Altar is surrounded by 6 side chapels designed by Guze' Galea of Malta with beautiful carvings of Anthony Camilleri and paintings of the young Gozitan artist Paul Camilleri Cauchi.
For more details visit my Xewkija page
Xewkija is an agricultural town in the south of Gozo and is remarkable for only one thing - the church of St John The Baptist. This church is simply immense, and is something you would expect to see in a great city rather than a small agricultural town. You can see from the picture (which was taken from Xaghra) how the church dwarfs the town.
This is a view looking down from the dome to the square below - it makes everything look like ants! You go up in an elevator, so no need to worry about all those steps. You can go across to the belltower too and climb even higher for some great views across Gozo.
The churches dome is the tallest in Malta and is 6m taller than St Paul's in London. The internal volume of the dome is almost as large as that of St Peter's in Rome - such grand aspirations for such a small-town church.
It was built by public subscription and and also by public labour and was begun in 1951. Take a look, go inside and go to the top of the belltower. It's all simply marvellous!
The cathedral of Xewkija has been built in the second half of the 20th century. During construction the church has been enclosed by the new dome and has been dismantled only after the new cathedral was finished.
Xewkija, the village of the Rotunda church,was the first Hamlet to be raised to the status of a village.Its name is Maltese and Arabic for a place where Thistles abound.
The village is dominated by the Church dedicated to St.John the Baptist,it became the first parish outside the town on Gozo on the 27th November 1678.It was Bishop 'Michael Molina' who after visting the hamlet decided the large community living here deserved better pastoral care.
The Dome is 75 metres high,with a diameter of 27 metres making it one of the largest in Europe.Its total weight is calculated to be some 45,000 tons.It was consecrated in June 1978.Inside is very beautiful and its open daily for the public to visit.
Often you find the most unbelievable sights in small places – the church of Xewkija is a great example for that: The small village has the third-biggest dome of Europe! It's possible to enter the cupola which guaranties a fantastic view over Gozo.