Victoria’s fortifications – the Cittadella or Citadel – are in the middle of a thorough facelift in a €6 million project mainly funded by the EU.

The entire perimeter of the external fortified walls and military structures is being restored in several phases.

All of the Cittadella fortifications have been documented through the use of laser scanning technology. This allowed the state of conservation to be mapped in detail and an accurate analysis undertaken before stabilising the ground and restoring the ramparts.

Restoration was then carried out on the stretch of ramparts between St Martin’s Cavalier to the west and St John’s demi-bastion/battery to the east. Works there are still ongoing and are expected to be completed by January.

This phase has been followed by restoration works on the remaining stretch of the fortifications on the north-facing ramparts where there are underlying rock outcrops. This will be completed by May 2013.

The European Regional Development Fund is financing 85 per cent of the cost of the works.

The Cittadella, which lies in the heart of Victoria, has been Gozo’s centre since the Neolithic times. It was first fortified during the Bronze Age, around 1500 BC. It was later developed by the Phoenicians and continued to be a complex acropolis by Roman times.

Its north side dates back to the Aragonese domination period while the south flank, which overlooks Victoria, was re-constructed under the Knights of St John, between 1599 and 1603.

The massive defensive stone walls which rise above the town were built to protect the village communities from foraging corsairs attempting to take slaves and to protect also from the threat of a Muslim invasion.

Lorenzo Gafa’s 17th century baroque cathedral lies within the Citadel’s wall.

It is most famous for the remarkable trompe l’oeil painting on its ceiling, depicting the interior of a dome that was never built.

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