The Upper Barrakka Gardens don’t only provide a lovely green space with spectacular views. They also serve a much more practical function, thanks to the presence of the Barrakka Lift. which is located at the furthest end of the gardens, right behind a massive stone monument. The lift links Lascaris Wharf to the upper side of Valletta, and is extremely convenient for cruise liner passengers and those using the Gozo Fast Ferry.
The original list was operational between 1905 and 1973, when it was decided that the high cost of maintenance required to keep it working safely made it not viable. It took over 30 years before plans were kickstarted to rebuild the lift. The project coincided with a sharp increase in the number of cruise liners stopping at Grand Harbour, and with the introduction of a ferry service linking Valletta to The Three Cities. The total cost of rebuilding reached the €2 million.
Today, the lift operates between 7am and 9pm, or till midnight in the summer months, with passengers charged a nominal fee of €1. During the annual Notte Bianca festival, the lift is turned into an alternative mini-venue, with troubadours and story-tellers keeping passengers entertained.
Barrakka Lift – some local colour
Throughout the 80s and 90s, the area near the Barrakka Lift was considered derelict. The place soon started attracting older school-children who’d be playing truant and who figured out no-one would spot them in this out-of-the-way spot. Tourists would often wander upon the area and be faced with throngs of teenagers playing that eternally favourite game, Spin the Bottle.
Eventually, the authorities caught on to what was happening, and it became the job of the newest police recruits to keep an eye out and to drag recalcitrant students back to school or to their parents.