The Rock Of Gibraltar Gateway To The Mediterranean

The Rock Of Gibraltar Gateway To The Mediterranean

The Rock of Gibraltar is located right on the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsular. Despite the fact that it is physically attached to Spain, the Rock is actually the property of the UK and has been since the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. For those heading north from Africa, the Rock of Gibraltar is a true gateway to the Mediterranean, as many of the ferries and cruise ships that bring passengers from locations such as Tangiers dock here and beyond The Rock lie Spain, Portugal and the rest of northern Europe.

The Rock of Gibraltar has a unique place in history, and has been an important location for many ancient civilisations, from Roman to Moorish. The Romans called it Mons Calpe and The Rock featured in Greek mythology as one of the Pillars of Hercules. This unusual spot was particularly important to the Moors, who occupied it for more than 700 years. Today it’s possible to see evidence of this occupation by visiting Gibraltar’s Moorish Castle, built in A.D. 711, which provides some insight into what it was like here during the Moors lengthy reign.

gibraltar arialDuring the Second World War, The Rock became a focal point for the British military, who evacuated all of its inhabitants to the UK, Morocco or Jamaica so that the area could be fortified to resist an attack from Germans. The Rock’s system of tunnels was significantly expanded so that it could act as a way to safeguard the shipping routes that still depended on it as a gateway to the Mediterranean. By the mid point in the war, there were more than 30,000 service personnel occupying the island and almost no civilians at all. The Rock is a naturally strong defensive point, which has provided significantly protection for its residents across the years, as well as for the country beyond it. It is rumoured that this stability and ability to protect its people is behind the phrase ‘solid as a rock’ (of Gibraltar..).

In terms of things to do here, The Rock has its own nature reserve, (the Upper Rock Nature Reserve) and the flora and fauna within it are protected by law. Because the Rock is a headland it tends to be a haven for birds and attracts huge numbers during the periods of migration. It has its own unique culture which is generally a combination of Spanish and British and many locals feel a real sense of identity, so much so that after the residents were evacuated during the Second World War, when the war ended there was a highly successful campaign for repatriation. Sights to see here include a number of great beaches, Lower St Michael’s Cave, the cable car that takes visitors to the top of the Rock, the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, the Mediterranean Steps and the Rock Hotel, which is something of an institution. The Rock is also the perfect location for those who are looking to combine a visit to southern Europe and northern Africa, as Gibraltar has those great ferry links to the south and is within easy reach of many of Spain’s best-known tourist areas, such as the Costa del Sol.

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