An innovative means of access: the lift at Upper Barrakka gardens

Town of Valetta - 2005-2012


  • Opened on: 15 December 2012
  • Operating times: 7AM to 9PM every day
  • Annual number of passengers: 1 million
  • Difference in height covered by lift: 58m
  • Return fare: 1€
  • Lift takes: 23 seconds
  • Capacity: 21 people

Tourism in Malta: extremely important for its economy

The number of tourists going to Malta is constantly increasing and employment in this field accounts for 8.5% of the active population. In 2011, over 1.4 million tourists visited the island which has a population of 400,000. Valletta, included on the
World Heritage List since 1980, is visited by a large number of cruise tourists. Ships berth at the foot of the fortifications, down from the old city.

The vertical connection from the cruise-liner terminal to the city of Valletta

Several possibilities have been studied since 2005 in order to facilitate the transfer of cruise passengers from the terminal to the old city. The cable car solution was ruled out for several reasons: public opinion was opposed to the visual impact of the pillars, the level of safety was deemed insufficient (crossroads and arrival point in front of the government buildings) and passenger comfort
would have been impacted by the strength of the breeze.
Among the other solutions envisaged, feasibility and benchmarking studies have been conducted with regard to a funicular railway and a park and ride system. It was eventually decided to install a lift, to
replace the old industrial lift dismantled in 1983. The starting point is 500 metres from the cruiser terminal, in the ditch of the town’s fortifications. The World Heritage Centre was regularly consulted during the phase concerned outlining the project.

Finance plan

Project cost: 1,5 M€ (public and European funding only)


Negative aspects

A funicular railway would have made it possible to link up other attractions in Valletta and could have blended in better with the historic urban landscape. Climbing up slowly and gradually would have been better than a fast lift ride in terms of gaining a better understanding of the defensive system. Although less attractive and more intrusive, the lift does have the advantage of being very efficient and highly appreciated by the large number of tourists who use it.