Standing alone amidst the harsh, natural scenery of Gozo, Dwejra Watch Tower has a fascinating history. Today, visitors can explore this recently restored Knight’s era heritage site, which dates back to 1652, and be rewarded with stunning rooftop views overlooking Gozo’s dramatic coastline.
Words by Simon Wallace | Extract taken from July's 2023 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
The tower’s original role was to provide protection to the coastline at Dwejra during the time of Grand Master Lascaris. The tower also guarded Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral, the General’s Rock or, as it is referred to today, the Fungus Rock. On this tiny, isolated rock grew Cynomorium Coccineum or Fungus Melitensis, which the Knights considered to be highly valuable. The fungus was believed to possess powerful medicinal virtues.
As the popularity of the site grew, the Knights took active measures to guard Fungus Rock, which became the first protected ‘nature’ site in the Maltese Islands. Eventually, visitors were allowed to see the fungus for themselves, but it was not a journey for the faint hearted, as access was by use of a suspended rope and wooden boxcar.
Back to Nature
Today, the tower sits within a protected Natura2000 site, and is a haven for geology and ecology enthusiasts, or simply anyone wishing to enjoy nature and fine views. A wealth of unique features including the Inland Sea, protected fossil beds, rare endemic plants, and archaeological features are all contained in a relatively small area surrounded by limestone cliffs. Dwejra is a place to visit at any time of the year, and it is a popular venue with photographers, swimmers, hikers, divers, cyclists and fans of amazing sunsets.
Dwejra is a designated Dark Sky Heritage Area with the possibility to view the Milky Way with the naked eye. The cliffs are also home to protected Shearwater colonies, and it is a magical experience to venture out after dark and listen to the haunting, eerie calls of these secretive seabirds under the stars.
The tower was saved for the nation by Din l-Art Ħelwa, Malta’s National Trust. Recent restoration works have been completed and the tower is once again open to visitors. Entry is free of charge.
The Dwejra Tower restoration works were part of ‘The Northern Coastal Watch’ project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA). For more information and opening times visit the tower’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Dwejra.tower