Birkirkara is one the largest, oldest and most heavily populated city in the center of Malta with 25,775 inhabitants in an area of 2.7 km2. The Old Railway Station, a memory from Malta’s railway past, can be found in Birkirkara and can still be visited today, with a public garden around it. Malta’s perhaps most beautiful church, St Helen Basilica can also be found in this town. Besides its beauty, the church is also famous for having Malta’s largest bell.
St Helen is also the main religious feast in Birkirkara and the main attraction of the feast is a procession during which, a large wooden statue of St Helen (created by Maltese Salvu Psaila) is carried through the city. The procession leaves the basilica at 08:00 to return at 10:45 on the first Sunday following the 18th of August. The timing of the procession is unique as these events usually take place in the evening.
Today most of Birkirkara is modern but the town still kept some of its traditional Maltese characteristics of narrow streets and alleys. The city’s older part is separated from the newer part by a small garden. The larger houses in the town are often used as band clubs or offices for political parties.
Indeed Birkirkara has several stories to tell. Birkirkara has had various roles in Maltese history, however the most important was during the second world war, when it became known as Malta’s emergency capital. Much of the government administrative establishments and artistic treasures were moved here, away from the harbour and its constant air-raids.