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Kalkara, Malta
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Kalkara is a small town in Malta, with a current population of 2,871 (Nov 2005). The name comes from...
Kalkara is a small town in Malta, with a current population of 2,871 (Nov 2005). The name comes from the Latin word for lime (Calce), as there was a lime kiln present there since Roman times. 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. Some historians believe that the land that today is known as Kalkara, was 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 mentioned inlets could have provided these primitive emigrants with the needed shelter after having endured heavy storms which at that time where present in the Mediterranean Sea. 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. However, this village is mostly known for building boats, known as the Maltese dgħajsa and for oarsmen (barklori). From medieval times, the Kalkariżi took part in the national regattas with their own constructed boats. In Kalkara, due to its neighbourhood, one may find various fortifications and other historical sites. The design of this fort was done 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 even by the British, who also used it as a prison. In this fort there is a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas. In 1724 Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena ordered that a new fort had to be built near the entrance to Kalkara so as to protect nearby Vittoriosa and to safeguard from above the Grand Harbour. During the British reign, this fort was used as a reformatory for children. In 1650, together with the chapel of Our Saviour, Fra Giovanni Bighi erected near the same site a large villa overlooking the entrance of the Grand Harbour. During the plague of 1813 this villa was used as a temporary hospital. However, through a decree by King George IV, on 23 March 1830, Vice-Admiral Sir P. Malcolm laid down the foundation stone of a Naval Hospital on the site where Villa Bighi was situated after it was pulled down. Bighi Naval Hospital took two years to be completed and figured £20,000 of capital expenditure. During the British reign it was used extensively, and nowadays it is serving as an International School of Restoration. An establishment nearby Villa Bighi is being used by Circolo San Giuseppe Filarmonika Sagra Familja as Dar l-Armar il-Ġilju ta’ Lulju. Over-looking Kalkara Creek there is Villa Portelli which is a large villa built by Sir Agostino Portelli as a summer residence. Through World War II this villa served as the residence of the Flag Officer while in 1961 Admirals began to use it as their residence. All above information was edited by Circolo San Giuseppe Filarmonika Sagra Familja, Kalkara (A.D. 1897) and taken from www.sagrafamilja.org. Copyright reserved.
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