Confusion reigns supreme, even in official publications and websites, about the use of Iċ-Ċittadella, Ir-Rabat and Victoria.

The city of Victoria embraces both Iċ-Ċittadella, the ancient city-fortress of Gozo, and Ir-Rabat, which developed as its suburb since very early times.

Iċ-Ċittadella – the Citadel - rises in the geographical centre of the island on one of the flat-topped hillocks that dot the island.

Ir-Rabat, Arabic and archaic Maltese for suburb, developed in its present form in medieval times as an extension to Iċ-Ċittadella. On June 10, 1887, on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria of the British Empire, Iċ-Ċittadella and Ir-Rabat were renamed Victoria and raised to the status of a city. Iċ-Ċittadella has actually been known as Il-Belt, the city, since at least late medieval times.

So it is wrong to write “iċ-Ċittadella... overlooking the city of Victoria”, as in the recent Maltapost postage stamp issue, no. 354, or to refer to the cathedral as being at Ir-Rabat, as in a number of official and semi-official websites. The cathedral is primarily at Iċ-Ċittadella but also in Victoria.

Photo: Citadel Video Communications/George Scicluna

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