It’s like stepping into the 1950’s to set foot on Gibraltar, the outpost of Britain located in the sea off Spain’s south coast. You can experience three cultures in one day on the island, English tea on the famous Rock, tapas and turron across the bay in Spain, and snake charmers and Turkish coffee in Tangier just a short ferry ride away. It's exotic, sunny and warm, but it has English policemen, red pillar-boxes and chips with everything.
Gibraltar - The Fascinating Rock in the Mediterranean
As solid as the Rock of Gibraltar is an expression often heard. A visit to the place where the most famous inhabitants are Barbary Apes will help explain what the expression means
The Rock of Gibraltar
Gibraltar Tourist Board
On the Rock, everything is quintessentially English especially if you choose to have a drink on the terrace of the best known hotel,The Rock, as the sun sets over the Bay. From Gibraltar, a 90 minute ferry ride takes you to Morocco and Tangier with its snake-charmers, carpet shops, coffee and tea houses thronging the maze of alleyways in the 15th century casbah. Take the road link to Spain and in just a few minutes you are in Algeciras or Estepona on the Spanish side where immediately you will sense a different culture. Drive a little further and you can reach Granada or Seville.
In and around Gibraltar there are bobbies on the beat (English policemen) and red telephone boxes - England at its most nostalgic served up with with a dollop of sunshine. The look back at the past can sometimes also include the food, which can be a downside of the trip, as much of what is on offer has come straight out of the seventies, condensed milk in coffee, prawn cocktails, and chips with everything. Of course remembering that this is a ‘squaddie town’ the chips with everything probably can’t be avoided.
Sailing off the Coast of Gibraltar
Gibraltar Tourist Board
Gibraltar with its Mischievous Macaques
Shopping on Gibraltar
From Chain stores to Markets
Gibraltar’s history of traders dates back to the start of the 19th century when the Rock’s strategic location meant that it flourished as a trading port with an ethnic mix of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Jewish and Moorish communities making up the population. Today, the descendants of those original traders are shopkeepers manning the tills in the busy shopping centre.
Gibraltar welcomes millions of tourists every year and most of them will head for Main Street, the centre of Gibraltar’s commercial district and the scene of some of the best value shopping on the Mediterranean due to the country being Vat free. Cheap spirits, alchohol, perfume and electronics attract visitors from the Spanish mainland and cruise ships make regular calls. It is an ideal spot in which to replenish the drinks bag and buy some really good quality perfume at a fraction of the price you’d pay in airports.
With a plethora of international chains and high street brands that sit alongside handicraft and souvenir shops the choice is endless. Main Street and Casemates Square are two of the most popular shopping areas and the Gibraltar Public Market (1929) located just outside Casemates Square, is a traditional indoor market with a range of fish, fruit, vegetables and local delicacies.
St. Michael's Cave
Gibraltar Tourist Office
Things to See on Gibraltar
St. Michael’s Cave
One of the Rock’s top tourist attractions is St. Michael’s cave, a limestone grotto with stalactites and stalagmites which has attracted visitors since the days of the Romans. In blasting an alternative entrance to the cave during World War II a series of descending chambers ending in a mini lake was discovered. Special guided tours to this lower section can be arranged on contacting the Gibraltar Tourist Board. The Cathedral Cave, a unique auditorium for concerts, ballet and drama with a seating capacity of 400, is open to visitors.
was officially opened on the 23rd July, 1930 because of its well-preserved fourteenth century Moorish Baths in the basement of the building. It is located within one minute's walking distance from the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Main Street and it covers all aspects of the Rock’s history plus its natural history. It is a must for the visitor who wants to know about the famous Rock.
The Apes of Gibraltar.
The unmissables are the famous Apes which are found on top of the Rock, a journey that affords truly breathtaking views. From 426 feet up the African coastline is clearly visable as is the meeting of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and Spain’s Costa del Sol, quays, marinas and bays far below.
The Apes’ Den is home to some of Gibraltar’s famous macaques, descended from North African populations of Barbary Apes, and the only free-to-roam primates in Europe. According to legend, if the Apes leave Gibraltar it will cease to be British. Remember that these are still wild animals however, and as such are both mischievous and dangerous. Do not annoy them in any way as they will bite if frightened or annoyed, and do not feed them or let them see you have any eatables on your person.
World War II Tunnels
In May 2005 the World War II Tunnels were opened to the general public to enable visitors to walk in the footsteps of Churchill and De Gaulle. In 1940, Britain was at war with Germany and Italy and it was believed that an attack on Gibraltar was on the cards. In order to repel this, a massive network of tunnels was excavated during 1939-1944 by the Royal Engineers and Canadian Engineers – an extension of the Great Siege Tunnels from 1779-83. This fortress inside a fortress is part of the 32 mile-long network of underground passages and a tour of these tunnels is highly recommended.
Eastern Beach, Gibraltar
Gibraltar Tourist Board
Beaches on Gibraltar
Despite its reputation as a shopping haven, Gibraltar has a surprising variety of attractions, not least 6 delightful beaches around its shorelines. Four of these, Sandy Bay, Eastern Beach, the picturesque village of Catalan Bay, and Western Beach, are sandy. Blessed with a delightful sub-tropical climate of pleasant winters, glorious springs and shining summers, the beaches and nearby waterfront restaurants are a popular attraction. Swimming, sailing, kayaking, surfing are all available and there is even dolphin and whale watching.
Cable Car to Top of the Rock
The Cable Car to the "Top of the Rock" is a must for all visitors to Gibraltar. Reaching 412 m above sea level in approximately 6 minutes it offers uninterrupted views westwards to the city of Gibraltar, southwards across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa, across the Bay to the Mediterranean and Algeciras in Spain, and the beaches and cities of the Costa del Sol to the east. There is a snack bar at the top of the Rock (but remember to watch out for those mischievous monkeys).
Further Afield into Spain and Morocco
Gibraltar is the perfect base from which to explain nearby Spain and Morocco even on a day trip.
In nearby Spain you can visit Jerez for a sherry-tasting experience, or Ronda, the beautiful old town of bull-fighting fame where Hemingway spent so much of his time, take a trip to old Seville or Cordoba, or stroll around Marbella to view the rich and famous at play on their yachts in the famous marina of Puerto Banus. The Spanish port of Algeciras is about 12km by road to the west of Gibraltar and from its rail terminal trains run regularly into the beautiful Andalucian countryside giving access to Ronda, Cordoba and Madrid.
Alternatively, a short ferry crossing will take you to Morocco to sip mint tea in a Tea House, buy spices and silks, and haggle over leather bags and camel skin foot stools in the souk.
All in all, Gibraltar is a great place for a holiday and a very attractive destination.
Further information: www.visitgibraltar.gi
And the Band Plays on ...........
Gibraltar Tourist Board