Geography and History


Qala stretches over the larger part of the east side of the island Gozo, covering an area of 5.85 kilometres square. It has an average population of 2100 and ranks as one of the medium sized villages of Gozo. It has a unique geology since it is the only village in the Maltese lslands where one can find deposits of all the five strata of Maltese rock. It also includes within its limits the largest concentration of deep valleys in the islands. One deep valley runs across the centre of the village; this valley and other wider and picturesque ones give rise to hills which form the skyline of Qala, a skyline very similar to that figuring on the emblem of Gozo


The people who first colonized Gozo probably lived in the caves known as Il-Mixta on Ghajn Ghabdun plateau to the north-west of Gozo. This group soon spread in search of agricultural land and the present area of Qala, with its fertile soils must have soon been inhabited.
A temple might have also been raised in the present Qala area. Only a menhir, remains nowadays, but pottery sherds picked up from nearby suggest that the stone is possibly the sole surviving element of a megalithic structure of the Temple Period.
In 1920, what were probably Punic burials, were discovered in a spot known as Fuq il-Gherien, close to Ta’ Tocc. 

Besides, two punic tombs with pottery remains were unearthed next to the chapel of the Immaculate Conception in 1964 and there were more in the same area that were never reported to the authorities. These discoveries suggest activity in the area during Punic times.

Punic and Roman remains have been found from time to time in various places in the village, prominent among them the discovery of ancient graves near Marga valley.
The defence of the eastern shoreline of Gozo was greatly enhanced in the 1730’s by the construction at Ras il-Qala of Saint Anthony’s Battery, referred to by the Qalin as It-Trunciera.
The battery lies on the eastern tip of Gozo.
Construction work was undertaken during 1732 under the direction of the Order’s military engineer Charles de Mondion. An inscription recorded that it was raised in 1732, when Paolo Antonio de Viguier was Governor of Gozo.
On 10 June 1798, the French, under General Napoleon Bonaparte, occupied Malta and Gozo. The inhabitants of Qala as well as their cattle rushed to the relative safety of Fort Chambray.
On 5 September 1800, the British took the Maltese islands under their protection. On 16 September 1864, not without British support, Gozo and Comino were established an autonomous diocese. Qala – born Dun Mikiel Frangisk Buttigieg was elected the first bishop of Gozo. The population had by then increased considerably and, in 1872, Qala became a parish on its own. The status of the settlement was elevated from that of a hâra to a rahal or village.
The British slowly transformed the islands into a fortress colony. The resistance of the British and the Maltese to the Axis bombardments during the second World War became a legend. Between 1940 and 1942, fourteen shelters were dug throughout Qala at a total cost of 8050 pounds sterling. It was calculated that they could accomodate 97% of the village population that stood at 1,720 in 1942. The village did not suffer any direct hit but eleven Qalin died as a result of enemy action during World War II; the majority while working on merchandise ships.