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Kalkara is a small town in Malta with a current population of 2,880. The name comes from the Latin word for lime, as there was a lime kiln present in the town since Roman times. This gave rise to the town’s motto: A Calce Nomen.
The village of Kalkara consists of two inlets that sprout out in the Grand Harbour of Malta. These are respectively known as Rinella Bay and Kalkara Creek. It also comprises two peninsulas, today known as Bighi and as Ricasoli respectively. It is believed that the Kalkara area is one of the oldest inhabited zones due to the fact that accessible creeks had provided the then Sicilian seamen shelter after having endured heavy storms, which at that time were prevalent in the Mediterranean Sea. Old maps and documents always referred to Kalkara as a suburb of Vittoriosa city. As a matter of fact, the Capucchin Convent and St Liberata Church have always been referred to 'Fuori la Mura' outside the bastions surrounding the city.
The findings of Egyptian Columns in the area known as 'Ta Bighi' in 1830 and the building of Is-Salvatur Chapel in 1650 indicate the various interests in Kalkara. Among the historical buildings in Kalkara one can find the Wied Ghammieq Cemetery, purposely built during the Cholera epidemic in 1837. Fort Rinella, Fort Ricasoli and Villa Portelli all served as a private residence for the Flag Officer in Malta during the British rule.
Villa Bighi, a large villa overlooking the entrance of the Grand Harbour, was built in 1650 together with the chapel of Our Saviour, which served as the Parish Church of Kalkara in the 1940s when the first Parish Church was demolished by the enemy bombardments in the Second World War. The bombings led to the loss of all the church’s treasures. During the plague of 1813 this villa was used as a temporary hospital. However, through a decree by King George IV in1830, the foundation stone of a Naval Hospital was laid on the site where Villa Bighi was situated after it was pulled down. Bighi Naval Hospital, which took two years to be completed, was used extensively during the British reign, and nowadays it is serving as an International School of Restoration.
The present parish church was duly finished in 1952 when it was blessed by Mons. Gonzi. Amongst the works of art found in the church are the marble pulpit, the marble pavement of the church and the Via Sacra. The village feast of the patron saint St Joseph is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of July.
Fort Ricasoli was designed by Count Valperga in 1670. Previously on the same site of its erection, there was a tower known as “Torri Orsi”, but Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner decided that a new fort should be built on the Rinella Peninsula so as to safeguard the entrance of the Grand Harbour from the invading Turks. Comm. Giovanni Ricasoli donated a large sum of money for its completion, and due to this after it was duly finished, the fort was given the name “Ricasoli”. The fort was extensively used both by the Knights of Saint John and the British, who also used it as a prison. In this fort there is a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
SmartCity, a modern technology park is currently under development in Kalkara. The plan is to transform the Ricasoli Industrial Estate into a state-of-the-art information technology and media city on the models of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.
Kalkara is mostly known for building boats, known as the Maltese dgħajsa and for oarsmen (barklori). As from medieval times, the locals took part in the national regattas with their own constructed boats. This tradition is still held and one can follow the regattas annually on 8th September and 31st March.
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