Category Archives: Grand Harbour

Where to Go in Malta – The Barrakka Lift in Valletta

History of Malta
Macartney, McElroy & Co. Ltd., an engineering company specializing in electric tramway systems, constructed the Upper Barrakka Gardens lift, which opened in September 1905.
Macartney, McElroy & Co. Ltd. also laid down tramlines in Malta in 1904. The tramlines linked the Three Cities and Rabat to Valletta, via Floriana, Hamrun, Birkirkara, Attard and Zebbug.
John Francis Macartney died on the 15th February 1913, aged 44 years. He had been the principal shareholder and managing director of Macartney, McElroy & Co. Ltd. This company designed and constructed the Malta Electric Tramway system in 1904, followed by the Barrakka Electric Lift. Upon his death, the management of the company passed to his son J.F. Macartney. Apart from Malta, the company ran tramways in more than twenty British cities, as well as North and South America and South Africa.
Opened to the public in September 1905, at a cost of £5,000, the Barrakka lift connected Lascaris Wharf (Old Customs House) with Upper Barrakka Gardens offering a shorter and quicker route.
The lift incorporated two cabins each capable of carrying 12 passengers. It rose through 75 tonnes of steelwork vertically 167feet 7inches, with the winding gear housed in a turret even higher at 197feet (60m), to a lateral bridge, extending some 23feet out from the bastion gardens.
Other than a shutdown from October 1917 to June 1919, due to unavailability of spares and coal to generate electricity, the lift would see daily use until 9pm on 2nd February 1973. However, following the
privatisation of the dockyard in 1958 along with the withdrawal of British servicemen in the 1960s, its main source of income, revenue, was insufficient to meet the wages of the six employees and the closure became inevitable.
Malta Attractions
Efforts by the Government to find a company to run yet another Maltese unique and historic transport system were unsuccessful and after lying idle for ten years the lift was dismantled in August 1983. In March 2009 the government submitted a planning application for the construction of the lift. The full development permit was granted in September 2010. The €2.5 million project, mostly funded by the EU, brings back a century-old link between Valletta and Grand Harbour.
The 58m high lift has two passenger cabins with a total capacity of 21 passengers and is able to carry up to 800 people per hour. Its concrete structure is covered with a honey-coloured aluminium mesh to blend in with the fortifications which have been restored.
In order to safeguard the newly-restored bastions, the lift is freestanding so as not to damage the fortifications.

For more information on Things to do in Malta during your holidays contact the dedicated team at one of the Luxury Malta Hotels and they will assist you in having enjoyable short breaks in Malta.

Share Button

Things to do In Malta – BIRGUFEST

Birgu, also known as Vittoriosa, is a town situated on a peninsula in Malta’s natural harbour. Throughout Maltese history, Birgu can easily claim to have been the Island’s former maritime capital. Birgu is located in the southern part of Malta forming part of the Three Cities which is a collective description of the three fortified cities of Birgu, Cospicua and Senglea.
Of the Three Cities, Birgu is the oldest and takes primacy over the others as it stands on one of the first inhabited sites in the Grand Harbour.
Birgu played a key role in Maltese history, and its importance peaked during the Order of the Knights’ period. It achieved resounding fame during the Great Siege, which marked the Order’s first significant land victory in its five hundred years of existence. It was on this occasion that Birgu earned its name Vittoriosa meaning victorious.
During the Second World War, Birgu, like the other places on the harbour, was submitted to unceasing air attacks. Destruction was widespread with more than 60% of its buildings were wiped out. Churches, palaces and houses lay in ruins after the devastating attacks.
Now Birgu is a tourist attraction with lots of history to discover and one of the most famous Yacht Marinas in Europe. The historic Vittoriosa Waterfront contains the former Palace of the General of the Galleys and the Order of St John’s treasury. The area was refurbished in the early 2000s, and both buildings are used for other activities: the former is now a casino, while the latter is home to the Malta Maritime Museum. A second museum, the Vittoriosa 1565 Museum, is also located in the own and is dedicated to the siege and the battle in 1565.
This year the Birgufest will once again host locals and visitors alike, for another edition of the candle lit magical evening, together with a variety of traditional music, choirs, local and foreign bands. For the young at heart, concerts by renowned local bands will rock the main square of Birgu on Friday and while on Saturday the people of all ages can relax to a concert of mixed music including jazz.
If you would like to immerse yourself into the rich history of Malta and learn more about old Maltese traditions and customs then the Birgu Festival is one that you would not want to miss! Join thousands of others and head to Vittoriosa for this fascinating festival which will be held on the 19th-20th of October 2012.
Should you wish to experience this event kindly contact our transport desk on transport@excelsior.com.mt and they will organise your transfers. And for more information on Things to do in Malta during your holidays kindly contact the concierge desk at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta.
Share Button

Malta Events – Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is taking place on the 20th October 2012 and one should not miss the opportunity to make their way down to Malta’s Grand Harbour to witness the start from any of Valletta’s fortifications. This race is a sight worth viewing.
This exceptional race is a highly rated offshore classic and a spectacular event hosting a record of 78 boats in recent years thanks to its Organising Committee who have managed to bring Rolex on board as the title sponsor. This year, in 2012, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is organising the 33rd Edition of this race with 70 participants.
The Middle Sea Race began as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Paul and Jimmy who competitively raced in Malta in the early sixties. Paul and Jimmy, together with a mutual friend Alan Green, set out to map a course designated to offer an exciting and unique race. The resulting course was so inspirational that it is the same used today.
The race is considered to be a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions that they face during the race. The race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. This magnificent race has been recognised all over the world including many prestigious figures such as Ted Turner, CEO of Turner Communications (CNN), who has written that the Middle Sea Race “must be the most beautiful race course in the world. What other event has an active volcano as a mark of the course?”
The race begins in Malta and heads for the Straits of Messina before circumnavigating Sicily. The course then goes on to take the racers past the breathtaking islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa before returning to Malta and features Stromboli’s active volcano.

If you wish to stay informed of events taking place in and around Malta check out our Malta events page.

Share Button