Gibraltar is a very small country, a little over two square miles, located at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the Mediterranean Sea. It has many attractions despite its small size, but none are more famous nor loom as large, both literally and figuratively, than the Rock of Gibraltar.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a monolithic limestone promontory, which basically means it is a big slanting piece of land. It is one of the Pillars of Hercules, denoted as such because it was one of the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. It stands 1,398 feet tall and is a part of the Betic Cordillera mountain range. When one stands atop the Rock you can see the African coastline if you look towards the south, while the heart of the Mediterranean ocean awaits your visage if you stare eastward.
Inside of the Rock there is a labyrinth of tunnels known as the Great Siege Tunnels. The construction of the tunnels began as a way to withstand the Great Siege during the Revolutionary War. France and Spain wished to retake the Rock from Britain and so the man in charge offered a handsome reward for anyone who could find a way to move goes from the northern face of the rock. The idea was a great success and helped quite a bit in the efforts to fend off the overwhelming force. Such was the success that the tunnels were expanded during World War II to further help the war effort.
Sticking underground anyone who visits here should check out St. Michael’s cave! It has been visited for thousands of years as a point of interest because it was believed to be bottomless. Because of this rumor started to spread that the cave was possibly connected to the continent of Africa by a subterranean passage of some length, which also was used to explain where the apes came from. During World War II the cave was prepared as an emergency hospital but was never needed. These days it is known as the Cathedral Cave and makes a wonderfully unique auditorium for all sorts of events.
No trip to the Rock would be complete without discussing the Apes’ Den, which is home to the world famous Barbary Macaques. It is a popular legend among the people of Gibraltar that if the apes – often mistaken for monkeys – leave this place that it will no longer be British. They are descended from North African populations of the same kind. They may be adorable but let me be the first to warn you they are more than a little feisty and they are indeed wild animals, so while you can admire them don’t do so too closely or you might be in for some trouble!
We are proud of the fact that we are going to be stopping in Gibraltar as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the details about that trip, you can go here.