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Il-Kalkara (Kalkara)

Il-Kalkara is a small picturesque village in Malta, with a population of 3,030 as of March 2013. The name is derived from the Latin word for lime (Calce), and it is believed that there was a lime kiln present there since Roman times. Kalkara forms part of the inner harbour area and occupies the area around Kalkara Creek. The town has its own Local Council and is bordered by the city of Birgu, and the towns of Haz-Zabbar and ix-Xghajra.

The village of Kalkara developed as a small fishing community around the sheltered inlet of Kalkara Creek. Some historians believe that the land that today is known as Kalkara, was one of the first to be inhabited by the initial dwellers of Malta that came from nearby island of Sicily. The idea behind this theory is that the inlets of the Grand Harbour could have provided these primitive emigrants with the needed shelter after having endured their long voyage in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless such theories cannot be proven and Kalkara's early history will remain largely unknown.

The Christian era in Kalkara presumably began with the construction of the Palaeochristian hypogea in the zone known as Xagħra ta' Santa Duminka situated in its parish boundary. In them, the first Christian cults began to be performed and this is today attributed to the depiction of an Orant inside the hypogea.

The name given to this village, Kalkara, comes from the Latin word calce literally meaning lime (in Maltese ġir), the reason for this being that in this locality lime-kilns were usually found. Thus, its motto is A Calce Nomen. The emblem is a green scutcheon, divided into two parts: half being blue representing the sea, and the other being gold with a burning flame.

When in 1530 the Knights of St John came over to Malta and established their headquarters at nearby Birgu, they initiated a process of development and fortification of the area, which culminated with the construction of the Cottonera Lines; a massive line of fortifications enclosing the cities of Birgu, Bormla and Isla into the area known as Cottonera, and the construction of Fort Ricasoli at the mouth of the Grand Harbour. As the years went by, corsair and Turkish attacks on the Maltese Islands came to a virtual end, and this newly found feeling of safety ensured that Kalkara developed as a suburb of Cottonera, and most especially the city of Vittoriosa (Birgu).

The population slowly increased and in the 19th and 20th century Kalkara developed into a small yet charming seaside resort while its waterfront and historical centre acquired its current layout. During this period Cottonera was a major residential, commercial and industrial hub especially due to the presence of the Drydocks, which were used by the British Royal Navy since the very beginning of their stay in Malta. Initially most of the new houses in Kalkara were built as summer residences by people from the Cottonera area where they enjoyed a respite from their busier lifestyles but as time went by and land for development in Cottonera itself became very limited, more people started to settle permanently in Kalkara itself. Many of these houses, built between the 1850s and the 1950s, stand to this very day and are locally referred to as Town Houses, which are essentially terraced houses with two floors having a traditional Maltese timber balcony, stone slab ceilings supported by wooden or iron beams and Maltese patterned floor tiles. Some of these houses, especially along the waterfront, are more elaborate than others and include three or four floors and also intricate stone carvings. This increase in population led to the elevation of Kalkara to an independent parish from Vittoriosa in 1897.

Examples of grand Townhouses overlooking Kalkara creek having elaborate stone decorations

Although not strategically important in itself, Kalkara bore the brunt of World War II due to its close proximity to Cottonera and its Drydocks. The first parish church, which was located close to the present parish church, was completely destroyed during an air attack on 10 April 1942.

Following the gaining of Independence by Malta in 1964, the whole country witnessed a period of high development and construction, which also left its impact on Kalkara, albeit to a lesser degree. A new housing estate was built by the government in the area close to Bighi Hospital, while further development included the construction of large terraced houses and small villas along the area flanked by Triq il-Missjoni Taljana. Nevertheless Kalkara still retains a charming and quiet atmosphere and constantly features in many paintings and postcards that highlight its picturesque location. (Wiki)








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