Birkirkara (also known as B'Kara for short) is a town in the central region of Malta. It is the second most populous on the island, with 23,034 inhabitants as of March 2018. The city consists of four autonomous parishes: Saint Helen, Saint Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Mary. The city's motto is In hoc signo vinces, and its coat of arms is a plain red cross, surmounted by a crown.
San Ġwann tal-Għorgħar
Coat of arms
|Coordinates: 35°53′48″N 14°27′45″E|
|District||Northern Harbour District|
|Borders||Balzan, Iklin, Lija, Msida, Qormi, San Ġwann, Santa Venera|
|• Mayor||Joanne Debono Grech (PL)|
|• Total||2.7 km2 (1.0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||40 m (130 ft)|
|Demonym(s)||Karkariż (m), Karkariża (f), Karkariżi (pl)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|ISO 3166 code||MT-04|
|Patron saints||Helena of Constantinople; Saint Joseph; Our Lady of Mount Carmel; Anthony of Padua|
|Day of festa||Saint Helen: 18 August (or first Sunday after date); Sunday after 15 August; 1 May; First Sunday of July; First Sunday of June|
Birkirkara means "cold water" or "running water". This is attributed to the valley in the town. Originally, the name was written as Birchircara, as influenced by Italian spelling which traditionally does not use the letter 'K'. It is often abbreviated as B'kara/Kara.
Birkirkara is situated in a valley, which is from where its name is derived. It is known for flooding on heavy stormy days. Several projects have been proposed. The area has also received embellishment works from time to time.
There are many places of interest in Birkirkara, amongst them the Old Railway Station which is today located within a public garden. Trains were used as means of transportation across the island until the Railway's closure happened in 1931. Other town features include the Wignacourt Aqueduct built in the 17th Century, and St Helen's Basilica, housing Malta's largest church bell. Birkirkara is one of Malta's oldest towns and received mention in the 1436 Ecclesiastical Report mentioning the then existing parishes in Malta and Gozo, from which Birkirkara emerged as the largest parish. Various parishes and suburbs developed out of Birkirkara over the years, including Sliema, St. Julian's, Msida, Ħamrun in the 19th century and Santa Venera in the early 20th century. In more recent years, San Ġwann (1965) and the hamlet of Ta' l-Ibraġ hived off Birkirkara to form part of the new parish and locality of Swieqi in 1993.
Birkirkara's main religious feast is that of St Helen which is celebrated on 18 August if it falls on a Sunday, or on the first Sunday after that date. The main event of the celebration is a procession with a large wooden statue carved by the Maltese master-sculptor Salvu Psaila. Notably, this is the only procession (with a titular statue) on the island carried out in the morning. The procession leaves the basilica at exactly 8:00 a.m. and returns to it at 10:45 am. The statue is lifted to shoulder-height by a group of townsmen and is carried through the main streets of the town.
Birkirkara has grown into an important commercial centre as well as a densely populated residential area.
Some prominent buildings in the area are the Tal-Wejter Tower, the Wignacourt Aqueduct, Villa Lauri, Villa Chelsea, Saint Helen Palace, Band Clubs, Political Clubs, the Birkirkara Civic Centre, Ta' Ganu Windmill, amongst others.
Birkirkara features a Csa Mediterranean climate under the Köppen climate classification. Birkirkara features mild, wet winters and dry hot summers. The city's temperature varies from 10.3 to 30.7 °C (50.5 to 87.3 °F) during the course of a year.
Birkirkara Local Council
The current Birkirkara local council members are:
- Joanne Debono Grech (Mayor, PL)
- Rita Borg (Vice-Mayor, PL)
- Michael Fenech Adami (PN)
- Kaylocke Buhagiar (PL)
- Liam Gauci (PL)
- Josianne Cardona Gatt (PN)
- Mark Abdilla (PN)
- Anthony Buttigieg (PL)
- John Mary Calleja (PL)
- Herbert Conti (PL)
- John Mizzi (PN)
- Marie Claire Zammit (PN)
- John Borg (PN)
- Carmen Grech (PN)
Birkirkara Community Service
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Church, Triq Fleur-de-Lys (Fleur-de-Lys Road), Fleur-de-Lys
- Our Lady, Mother of the Church Parish Church, Triq il-Graffiti Navali, Swatar
- St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church, Triq il-Bwieraq (Bwieraq Street)
- St. Helen's Parish Church, Triq is-Santwarju (Sanctuary Street)
- St. Mary's Parish Church, Triq il-Knisja l-Qadima (Old Church Street)
- Our Lady of Victory Parish Church, Triq il-Vitorja (Victory Street)
- Birkirkara Local Council, Triq Tumas Fenech (Thomas Fenech Street)
- Birkirkara District Police Station, Triq il-Kbira (Main Street)
- Birkirkara Malta Labour Party Club, Triq Fleur-de-Lys (Fleur-de-Lys Road)
- Birkirkara Partit Nazzjonalista Club, Triq Fleur-de-Lys (Fleur-de-Lys Road)
- Birkirkara Branch Post Office, Triq il-Wied (Valley Road)
- Birkirkara Sub-Post Offices at: Triq Mannarino (Mannarino Road); Triq Tumas Fenech (Thomas Fenech Street); and Triq L. Casolani (L. Casolani Street)
- Da Vinci Hospital, Triq Kan. K. Pirotta (Can. K. Pirotta Street)
- Birkirkara Health Centre, Triq Tumas Fenech
- Birkirkara Regional Library, Triq Tumas Fenech
Zones in Birkirkara
Birkirkara has a multi-sport club in Birkirkara Saint Joseph Sports Club, commonly referred to simply as Birkirkara St. Joseph, mostly known for its Athletics section, however, it also has active sections responsible for cycling, triathlon, swimming, and (amateur) football, which competes in the Maltese Inter-Amateur Soccer Competition.
The latter is, however, definitely surpassed by Birkirkara F.C., led by Adrian Delia, who have won the Maltese Premier League four times. Birkirkara F.C. have a good record in UEFA Europa League when compared to other Maltese teams, having beaten West Ham United F.C. at a point, only to be eliminated from 2015-16 UEFA Europa League on penalties. Birkirkara also eliminated Heart of Midlothian in the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League.
Malta Financial Services Authority
The financial regulator of Malta, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), has its headquarters in Birkirkara.
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