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Report 2011: Gozo, Calypso’s Isle
By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2012
Page 8 of 26: Victoria - St George's Basilica
Small side chapel
The old part of the town around St Georges Square is well worthwhile exploring. It is a maze of narrow wandering streets with sharp corners and many dead ends. Streets are lined with splendid stone houses with balconies. There is a large statue of St George and the dragon on a wall in a small square. Many of the houses have small carvings of St George on the walls.
The boundary is marked by Triq Palma, a busy street lined with shops selling Gozitan style fast food.
We planned a visit to St George’s Basilica for 9:30 after mass had finished and before the next service began. This is the original parish church built between 1672-8 with a classical facade added in 1818 with two small bell towers. There are statues on the outside end of the side aisles. The red painted dome can be seen all over the city, but not from the front of the building.
Entry is through the west door which has a metal door protecting the wooden doors. The inside is sumptuous and much more impressive than the Cathedral in the Citadel. The nave has solid square marble pillars of cream and red marble. They support round arches with carved gold ribs and small stained glass windows above. The side aisles have rounded arches and a series of small domes on the ceiling. These have mosaic rather than painted pictures. The inside of the domes above the side doors are painted red with gold and grey carvings. There is an impressive selection of marble side altars. The altar at the back of the south aisle has the skull of St Pacifici under it.
The nave ceiling is painted with decorative gold ribs. The main dome has stained glass windows for light.
The mass altar has beautifully carved black wood pillars with gold vines and bunches of grapes trailing up them which support a wooden canopy with gold angels. Behind is a marble altar with tall silver candlesticks and a large picture in a carved gilded frame with more carved wooden pillars painted pink and gold.
To the right of the chancel is a small, very simple, white chapel with a crucifix, silver font and two large statues in glass cases in the vestibule in front of it. The marble floor has a cross with a crown of thorns.
Over the main door at the back of the nave is a small ornate balcony with the organ. There is no pulpit, only a lectern.
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