Guarding the lower entrance to the city is Victoria Gate, at the bottom of the steps leading to Bridge Bar and St Barbara Bastion. Although not the main entrance to the city, the gate remains as imposing as the sovereign it was named for.
As hinted by the name, Victoria Gate was built during British rule, in 1885. At the time, this part of Grand Harbour was considered to be the busiest part of Valletta, attracting sea-merchants, sailors and traders. At the time, the city only had three gates. The main one, was called Porta San Giorgio, and would later become City Gate, and catered for the majority of visitors to the capital. The other two gates were Marsamxetto Gate and Del Monte Gate, both considerably smaller.
In time, as the activity around the Fish Market and Ta’ Liesse Church continued to grow, the British realised that a bigger entrance was needed in this part of the city. Thus, Del Monte Gate was demolished to make way for the considerably grander and stronger Victoria Gate. Today, the Victoria Gate remains the only actual entrance to the city in the Grand Harbour area.
The restoration of the Upper Barrakka Lift in recent years means that visitors wishing to get inside the city from the area have a very effective short cut. Moreover, vehicles have two faster options to drive in and out of the city. For this reason, the Victoria Gate is rarely used for practical reasons nowadays and is more of a tourist attraction than a necessary part of the city.
Victoria Gate – Architecture
Victoria Gate allowed for the passage of both pedestrians and vehicles or horse-drawn carriages. This was achieved by the construction of a double arched opening for two way traffic, and two smaller doors on either side for those who are on foot. Interestingly, the original structure was equipped with a moat and drawbridge, but the moat was unused and filled up in later years. In 2010 it was finally emptied and restored.