Gozo is a Mediterranean island rich in 2,000 years of history. The Client's brief for the new Cittadella Visitors’ Centre was to convert the city’s disused water reservoirs into an experience that would reinforce the historical ties of the buildings, the people and the natural landscape.

Given the island’s small population of roughly 37,000, the fact that within 3 months of opening, Cittadella Visitors' Centre had already welcomed over 100,000 visitors confirms that this attraction is something out of the ordinary. It is the combination of traditional exhibition techniques, immersive storytelling and the 360° show finale, set in the unique historical environment that make this project so special. 

Cittadella Visitors' Centre has attracted major international plaudits including themed entertainment industry's top honour - a TEA Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement. 

Location
Gozo, Malta
Services
- Story, Research & Interpretation - Scheme & Detailed Design - Project Engineering & Technical Design - Interior Design - Lighting, Audio, Video, Network Design - Set and Staging Design - Writing & Content Development - Media & Film Production - Interactive Technologies - Graphics - Lighting - Audiovisual - Theming - Languages & Multinational Support - Art Direction - Installation Supervision - Special effects, 4D Vibration, Movement & Smell - Programming - Construction & Installation - Support & Maintenance - Ongoing Upgrades and Extensions - Training
Awards
TEA - Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement; Install Awards - Best Visitor Attraction Project; AV Awards - Entertainment Venue of The Year; TripAdvisor - Certificate of Excellence; TripAdvisor - Travellers’ Choice
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Client's brief

An immersive experience celebrating the island’s history

Gozo is one of the Maltese islands, known for its Mediterranean seascape, rugged landscape, and for being the purported home of Calypso, who wooed Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey. The island is also home to an ancient Cittadella, a fortress that for centuries was a place of shelter for the locals in times of war.

With EU funding secured, the Ministry for Gozo called upon Sarner to convert and restore the city’s disused water reservoirs underneath the Cittadella into an immersive visitor centre, celebrating the island’s history and reinforcing the ties that link it with Rabat and the natural landscape.

Our solution

Learn then Experience

With no historical objects available to display, Sarner instead leveraged the power of storytelling, media and striking architecture.

The Cittadella Visitors’ Centre is divided into two main areas. The first area is an informative exhibition, where visitors can learn about the evolution of Cittadella, as well as the nature and history of the beautiful island of Gozo. The multisensory journey leads visitors to the second area, with its dramatic finale, the 360° audio visual show, set within the impressive theatrical space created by eight high arches of the former water reservoir.

The feedback was universally positive: recent surveys revealed that an impressive 97% of visitors considered their overall experience as good or very good. It is also important to note the wider economic benefit for Gozo and its local community. By enhancing the island’s cultural identity, the project delivered a 29% boost in tourism. Local economic operators are also happy with the improvements, with satisfaction ratings increasing from 48% to 86%. Some local businesses have even extended their opening hours to cope with the fresh influx of visitors.

Features

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This visually striking walk-through exhibition has nine multi-language storytelling zones, beginning with a more traditional exhibit experience of information panels, stunning graphics and interactive touchscreens. Then guests arrive at a stone portal where they are greeted by an image of the legendary mythical nymph Calypso, who enticed Odysseus to stay on her island. It opens and guests enter to find themselves on a short audio-visual journey that echoes all of the peoples who have previously come to Gozo, including Phoenicians, Romans, medieval knights, and 19th century bishops. Holographic projections, interactive displays, beautiful graphics, elements of theatre, film and audio-visual technology work together to draw the visitors further and further into the story.
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Immersive corridor
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Projection show
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Calypso reappears and guests pass through another portal to the final zone: the Cittadella Show. Using 16 video projectors and 8 projection screens set within the beautiful stone arches, deep within the high ceiling area of the reservoir, the guests are fully immersed in a spectacular 360-degree wrap-around projection show just over eight minutes long that brings the entire journey together in one amazing experience.

TEA - Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement

Install Awards - Best Visitor Attraction Project

AV Awards - Entertainment Venue of The Year

TripAdvisor - Certificate of Excellence

TripAdvisor - Travellers’ Choice

Awards and recognition

In this video  - 2018 TEA Summit - Award Speech
'Sarner took our brief and literally ran with it, creating a mesmerising tour through the history of the Cittadella which puts the visitors right there at the heart of it all.'
John Cremona Project Leader, Ministry for Gozo