Mgarr Bay serves the dual function of Gozo's main harbour and the foremost fishing port. The gaily-painted fishing boats offer a splendid first impression to visitors arriving at the quay; Mgarr is the terminal and embarkation point for the frequent ferry-boats plying between the two islands. The port itself is situated in pleasant surroundings. Visitors entering the small harbour are struck by the imposing Fort Chambray on top of the hill and by the rustic niche of Our Lady of Lourdes beneath the graceful church on the high-ground that guards the port.
Mgarr today is fast changing its image of a fishing enclave toone of a busy little port. Fully-equipped quays have been constructed; offices, restaurants and bars have sprung up on the quayside. Part of Mgarr Harbour has now been turned into a yacht marina.
Fort Chambray, poised on the summit of the green sloping hill, is the only notable fortified place in Gozo, apart from the Citadel at Rabat. The fort was constructed in 1749 to a design of Chev. de Tigne, and at the personal expense of the Bailli ,Jacques-Francois de Chambray. De Chambray was born in Normandy in 1687. He joined the Order of St. ,John at a very early age. In 1710, after serving in the Order's navy for many years, he was appointed Commander of the Fleet. His naval career lasted 30 years, during which time he performed many daring feats and captured as many as 56 Moslem galleys in battles at sea.
De Chambray retired from naval duties at 52 years of age and then spent most of his days in Gozo where he undertook to build the fortress which still bears his name. His project envisaged a system of fortifications to be known as The New City of Chambray, intended to protect Gozitan people from the attacks of Barbary Corsairs which had brought misery to Gozo for many years.
Unluckily, the Bailli died of a stroke in 1756 and the project remained incomplete except for the walled fortress. The fort is sited on a spectacular vantage point. From its spacious ramparts visitors can enjoy the charm of Mgarr harbour and admire extensive views of Comino, Malta and the surrounding sea.
Text courtesy of the National Tourism Organisation - Malta.