Our Lady of Hope in Gozo, Malta

One of the most popular sandy beaches in the Maltese Islands is Ramla Beach on the north shore of Gozo, the second largest island in the archipelago. This reddish-sand beach borders a bay with hills on either side, and is a popular swimming and sunbathing location for both tourists and local residents. Rather unusually, a small white statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus stands on a white podium several meters high in the middle of the beach. This statue, named Our Lady of Hope, was created decades before Ramla Beach had become a popular tourist destination and is part of the bay’s rather complicated past.

From 1530 to 1798, the islands of Malta were controlled by the Knights of St. John, a military order that had originally been formed by Crusaders in Jerusalem. During the knights’ rule over Malta, they built multiple fortifications among the islands, including in Ramla Bay, because it was a good landing spot for pirates and invaders trying to access Gozo. These fortifications continued to be used into the nineteenth century after the United Kingdom had taken control of the islands.

The statue at Ramla Beach was built in 1881 by John Gauci, one of the last members of the Polizia Marinara or “Maritime Police” assigned to guard the beach’s fortifications. Over time, people worked to maintain the statue and its pedestal. In 1966, the original statue was replaced with a new concrete one, and in 2018, repairs were made to the statue and pedestal that included replacing one of the statue’s arms, which had been missing for multiple years. 

The statue today is the most visible remnant of the battery that once occupied Ramla Beach, along with part of the crumbling foundations nearby. As the statue has been designated a Grade 1 national monument, it will continue to gaze over Ramla Beach’s visitors for decades to come.

Know Before You Go

Our Lady of Hope is located in the middle of Ramla Beach, which is publicly accessible at all times of day.  A few food stands with an adjacent eating area, toilet facilities, and public showers are all located near the beach, and additional food trucks may be parked on the road leading up to the beach.

The beach is located on the north shore of the island of Gozo.  For people driving to the site, a paved road leads up very close to the site, and parking is available on the sides of the road and in a dedicated parking area adjacent to the food stalls.  For people without cars, buses travel to the area from both Victoria at the center of Gozo and from the port of Mgarr on the southeast side of the island, although these buses may be infrequent. 

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