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Gibraltar Travel Guide - Sights to See
Where else would you find a town, which is also a country? Gibraltar is only 2 1/4 square miles in size, but it has its own airport, currency, postage stamps, naval and military garrisons, two cathedrals, newspapers, radio and TV.

"The Rock" also enjoys a healthy climate and has a recorded history dating from 711 AD, and traces of cave occupation 40,000 years ago. The Rock of Gibraltar is a massive limestone rock rising out of the sea to a height of 1396 feet, and is often referred to as the Gateway to the Mediterranean.

It was originally a Phoenician trading post called Calpe. In 711, a Berber called Tarik Ibn Zeyad landed and named the rock Gibel Tarik (mountain of Tarik), from which the name of Gibraltar is derived. The rock was captured from the Moors in 1309 by the Guzman E1 Bueno, and then recaptured by the Moors in 1333. In 1462 Spain seized and fortified the rock against further attack but in 1704, during the Spanish War of Succession, a joint Anglo Dutch fleet made a surprise attack and captured the fortress.

The Spanish and the French have since made attempts to conquer the Rock by siege, bombardment, tunneling, and finally with ships. The British rained cannon balls on the fleet and set them afire. Since then, there have been three treaties confirming Gibraltar as a British possession. The Spanish still claim it, but in a free vote in 1969, the Gibraltarians decided by a huge majority to remain under British rule.

Two languages are spoken - English and Spanish. The community is made up of Gibraltarians, Britons, Spaniards, and a few Italians and Indians. The town of Gibraltar lies on the west side of the rock around the harbor. There is little to see there other than two sets of gates.

St. Michael's Cave: The Lower Cave and lake are connected to the Upper Cave by a passage spanning the 50-150 foot difference in depth. The endless stories of adventures in the labyrinth of passages that have formed naturally in the porous rock are an attraction. Its possible for even an amateur to travel miles underground.

The Rock Apes: Although almost universally known as Barbary Apes, they are actually tailless monkeys. Legend has it that the first apes were either brought in by the Moors or that they found their way through a tunnel that linked St. Michael's Cave with Africa and that, when Africa and Europe were joined together, there were many more monkey packs. Today there are only two packs, some 40 apes in each. Each pack has its leader and its own den halfway up the rock. Regular mealtimes are 8 AM and 4 PM. The apes are carefully tended and protected by the British, since they have a saying that "when the apes leave the Rock, so will the British". Mind your camera or they will steal it.

St. George's Hall: This was the site of a magnificent banquet given by Lord Hapier in honor of U.S. General Ulysses Grant.

Chapel of Our Lady of Europa: This chapel is much venerated and often saluted by passing vessels. The chapel kept a light burning to warn ships of the rocks.

Tower of Homage: The tower is a magnet to the eyes of visitors and ships as they pass through the straits. Little remains of the original Moorish Castle, 12 centuries old, other than parts of the outer walls running between the castle, the harbor, and the Pier.

Gibraltar Museum: This museum is built over a Moorish Bath in the town center, close to the Roman Catholic cathedral. To anyone intrigued with the history of The Rock, the exhibits are fascinating.

The Convent and King's Chapel: This is the official residence of the governor, the Queen's representative. The changing of the guard takes place every Monday at 10:30 AM... a colorful ceremony with bank and the governor and his family on the balcony to take the salute. The convent was so named in 1531 when a wealthy Spaniard gave the friars land, materials, and money to build a convent and a chapel for the burial of himself and his family. There are no signs of their graves today. King's Chapel may be visited but the home of the governor may not.

Trafalgar Cemetery: This is actually a charming garden blazing with geraniums. Tombstones commemorate many who fell at the Battle of Algeciras, Trafalgar, and Malaga in the early years of the 18th century.

Alameda Gardens: This site is where the Arabs drew water and piped it through the town to supply their ships. The area is now covered with subtropical trees and flowers. There are monuments to the Duke of Wellington.

Cable Car: On Red Sands Road, this car rises to the top of the Rock. The car stops at the Apes Den halfway up the cliff. At the top is a refreshment place.

Duty Free: Many tourists think Gibraltar is a shopper's paradise. If you're interested in Llardo Ceramics, they are cheaper in Gibraltar than in Spain. Shopping is so good that the main street is lined with shops selling luxury items. And so you won't have to spend a lot of time on lunch, there's a McDonald's right at the beginning of the shops.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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