From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

St. Helen's Basilica – Parish Church
Flag of Birkirkara
Coat of arms of Birkirkara
Birkirkara in Malta.svg
Coordinates: 35°53′48″N 14°27′45″E / 35.89667°N 14.46250°E / 35.89667; 14.46250Coordinates: 35°53′48″N 14°27′45″E / 35.89667°N 14.46250°E / 35.89667; 14.46250
RegionCentral Region
DistrictNorthern Harbour District
BordersAttard, Balzan, Iklin, Lija, Msida, Qormi, San Ġwann, Santa Venera
 • MayorJoanne Debono Grech (PL)
 • Total2.7 km2 (1.0 sq mi)
40 m (130 ft)
 (January 2019)
 • Total24,356[1]
 • Density9,021/km2 (23,360/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Karkariż (m), Karkariża (f), Karkariżi (pl)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code356
ISO 3166 codeMT-04
Patron saintsHelena Empress; Saint Joseph; Our Lady of Mount Carmel; Anthony of Padua
Day of festaSaint Helen: 18 August (or first Sunday after date); Sunday after 15 August; 1 May; First Sunday of July; First Sunday of June
WebsiteOfficial website

Birkirkara (abbreviated as B'Kara) is a city in the central region of Malta. It is the second most populous on the island, with 24,356 inhabitants as of 2020.[2] The town consists of five autonomous parishes: Saint Helen,[3] Saint Joseph the Worker,[4] Our Lady of Mount Carmel,[5] Saint Mary[6] and San Gorg Preca.[7] The city's motto is In hoc signo vinces, and its coat of arms is a plain red cross, surmounted by a crown.


Valley road, c. 1900

Birkirkara means "cold water" or "running water".[8] This is attributed to the valley in the town.[9]

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 most likely where it gets its name from. It is known for flooding on heavy stormy days.[10] Several projects have been proposed.[11] The area has also received embellishment works from time to time.[12]


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.[13]

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm


Birkirkara is one of Malta's oldest towns with a recorded mention in 1402 with The Cappella of Birkarkam which is understood to be an error for Birkirkara.[14] It received mention in the 1436 Ecclesiastical Report mentioning the then existing parishes in Malta and Gozo, from which Birkirkara emerged as the largest parish.[15] 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 Ta' l-Ibraġ hived off Birkirkara to form part of the new parish and locality of Swieqi in 1993.

Birkirkara has grown into an important commercial centre as well as a densely populated residential area.

Wejter Valley in Birkirkara[16]

Churches, architecture and notable places[edit]

Notable places[edit]

Birkirkara is home to many locations of importance.

St Helen Palace, Birkirkara


Birkirkara's main religious feast is that of St Helen[24] at St. Helen's Basilica, which is celebrated on 18 August or on the first Sunday after that date.[25] The main event of the celebration is a procession with a wooden statue carved by the Maltese master-sculptor Salvu Psaila.[26] Notably, this is the only procession 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 through the main streets of the town.[27]

  • The Church of St. Joseph the Worker[4]
  • The Church of St. Mary[6]
  • The Church of San Gorg Preca[7]
  • The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel[5]
  • The Church of St Paul B'kara had a previous building on the same site likely to date back to around 1538.[citation needed] Its design was medieval with a slanting roof. The present building known as 'San Pawl tal-Wied' was built in 1852 to 1854 on plans drawn up by Giuseppe Bonavia who was an architect with the Royal Engineers. The clock of the church was made by Michelangelo Sapiano in 1891. The titular painting by Giuseppe Calleja is a reproduction of the original found in the Tre Fontane Church in Rome.[28]

The Church of Our Lady of Victories[29] is a small church found within the small narrow streets in the area known as 'Has-Sajjied'. This church was known to have existed as far back as 1575.[citation needed] In the 17th century when the parish church was being built this church was dismantled to allow easy access to the quarry that was supplying the stones needed. It was erected once again after the 1675–1676 Malta plague epidemic. The present church was built between 1728 and 1736 in the Baroque style. The internal pilasters follow the Tuscan style with the dome featuring floral motifs and emblems of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[28]


Birkirkara Local Council[edit]

Tal-Wejter Tower, former defence on the valley

The Birkirkara Local Council forms part of the Birkirkara Civice Centre building. The current Birkirkara local council members are:[31]

  • Joanne Debono Grech (Mayor)
  • Karl Cutajar (Deputy Mayor)
  • Justin Schembri
  • Nancy Aquilina
  • Rita Borg
  • Kaylocke Buhagiar
  • Antoine Attard
  • Owen Patrick Attard
  • John Mary Calleja
  • Deborah Mifsud
  • John Mizzi
  • Marie Claire Zammit Bonello
  • Francis Pullicino
  • Carmel Attard (Executive Secretary)

Birkirkara community service[edit]

Niche of All Souls[32] close to St. Mary Church (Old Church) is a Maltese cultural heritage niche
  • 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 District Police Station, Triq il-Kbira (Main Street)
  • Birkirkara Branch Post Office, Triq il-Wied (Valley Road
  • Da Vinci Hospital, Triq Kan. K. Pirotta (Can. K. Pirotta Street)
  • Birkirkara Health Centre, Triq Tumas Fenech
  • Birkirkara Regional Library, Triq Tumas Fenech
  • Birkirkara Police Station

Zones in Birkirkara[edit]



Birkirkara has a multi-sport club in Birkirkara Saint Joseph Sports Club mostly known for its Athletics section,[33] however, it also has active sections responsible for cycling,[34] triathlon,[35] swimming,[36] and football,[37] which competes in the Maltese Inter-Amateur Soccer Competition.[38]

Birkirkara F.C. has won the Maltese Premier League four times.[39] Birkirkara F.C. participated in the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League beating West Ham United F.C., only to be eliminated via penalties.[40][41][42][43] Birkirkara also eliminated Heart of Midlothian in the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League.[44][45][46][47] Malta's leader of the opposition Adrian Deliaserved as Birkirkara F.C. president from 2015-2016 and 2017-2018.[48][49]


Iacob Heraclid, the Greco-Maltese adventurer who ruled over Moldavia in the 1560s, was born in the city. Eddie Fenech Adami, who served as Prime Minister and President of Malta, was born there, as was Anthony Mamo, the first President of Malta.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Birkirkara is twinned with:[50]


  1. ^ "The Malta Government Gazette" (PDF). 3 September 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  2. ^ "The Malta Government Gazette" (PDF). Government Gazzette. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Birkirkara (St Helen)". Archdiocese of Malta. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Birkirkara (St Joseph the Worker)". Archdiocese of Malta. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Our Lady of Mount Carmel on The Catholic Directory". The Catholic Directory. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b "St. Mary on The Catholic Directory". The Catholic Directory. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b "San Gorg Preca - Parish Church - Swatar, Malta". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  8. ^ Abela, Giovanni Francesco (1647). Della Descrizione di Malta Isola nel Mare Siciliano con le sue Antichità, ed Altre Notizie (in Italian). Paolo Bonacota. p. 90.
  9. ^ "Pullicino, F. (1990) Birkirkara : Isimha... Niesha... Ġrajjietha, 'Programm tal-festa ta' Sant'Elena, Birkirkara', pp.61, 63" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Birkirkara, Malta – Information and interests". 31 August 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  11. ^ Malta Independent (25 June 2005). "Possible Solution for Birkirkara flooding problems in the pipeline – The Malta Independent". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Planning Authority". 2 October 2016. Archived from the original on 2 October 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Birkirkara climate and weather". world 66. 10 June 2013. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  14. ^ Luttrell, Anthony T. (1981). "The cappella of Birkirkara: 1402". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Archidiocesi ta' Malta, Newsletter (June 2014). "Newsletter ta' l-Archidiocesi ta' Malta Gunju 2014" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ Reports on the Working of Government Departments 1975. Department of Information. Executive Departments. 1975.
  17. ^ "Dar Pirotta grateful for government help". Times of Malta. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  18. ^ a b "New Home for people with a disability - The Malta Independent". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Homeless emergency shelter to open in summer". Times of Malta. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Dar Papa Franġisku". Caritas Malta. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Villa Chelsea opens its doors". Times of Malta. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Old Railway Station – Birkirkara Local Council". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  23. ^ Cilia, Johnathan (29 January 2018). "Only Hours Left Before Classic Cinema In Birkirkara Gets Go-Ahead For Demolition". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Parroċċa Sant' Elena - Birkirkara". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Sant' Elena - Basilica - Birkirkara, Malta". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  26. ^ Brincat, Joe (2012). "Salvu Psaila (1798-1871)" (in Maltese). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ "FEAST OF ST. HELEN - Visitmalta - The official tourism website for Malta, Gozo and Comino". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  28. ^ a b Cassar, George (2019). A Taste of the History, Culture and Environment of the Central Region of Malta. Malta: Kite Group Malta. p. 29. ISBN 978-99957-50-68-8.
  29. ^ "Madonna tal-Vitorja - Chapel - Birkirkara, Malta". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  30. ^ "One World - Protecting the most significant buildings, monuments and features of Maltese Islands (17)". Times of Malta. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Mayor and Councillors". (in Maltese). Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  32. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "Birkirkara St.Joseph Sports Club :: Athletics". 20 June 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  34. ^ "Birkirkara St.Joseph Sports Club :: Cycling". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  35. ^ "Birkirkara St.Joseph Sports Club :: Triathlon". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  36. ^ "Birkirkara St.Joseph Sports Club :: Swimming". 12 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  37. ^ "Birkirkara St.Joseph Sports Club :: Home". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  38. ^ "Birkirkara St.Joseph Sports Club :: Football". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  39. ^ "The Club History". Birkirkara FC. 6 December 1996. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  40. ^ Hafez, Shamoon (23 July 2015). "Birkirkara 1-0 West Ham (3–5 on pens) – BBC Sport". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  41. ^ "Brave Birkirkara eliminated as West Ham win penalty shoot-out". 23 July 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  42. ^ Allied Newspapers Ltd (23 July 2015). "Update 3 – Agony for Birkirkara as West Ham beat them in penalty shoot-out". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  43. ^ "Birkirkara 1 – 0 West Ham – Match Report & Highlights". 23 July 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  44. ^ "Updated – Watch Birkirkara's two goals against Hearts as Stripes make European history – The Malta Independent". 22 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  45. ^ Wilson, Richard (21 July 2016). "Heart of Midlothian 1–2 Birkirkara (1–2) – BBC Sport". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  46. ^ Gordon Parks (21 July 2016). "Hearts 1 Birkirkara 2: Three things we learned as Maltese minnows send Jambos crashing out". Daily Record. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  47. ^ "Europa League – Hearts shocked by Birkirkara Hibernian lose on penalties". Espn Fc. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  48. ^ "Administration". Birkirkara FC. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  49. ^ "Birkirkara FC - Presidents". Birkirkara FC. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  50. ^ "Twinning". Government of Malta. Retrieved 18 September 2019.

External links[edit]