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Rockin’ the Rock…of Gibraltar, That Is!

The main attraction is the rock itself on the Rock of Gibraltar!

This limestone erratic jutting straight out of the Mediterranean Sea is a strategic and historic piece of land. Nowadays the top of the rock is a Nature Preserve and you have to pay to visit it. There are a couple of ways to get up to the rock and start exploring. You can either take the cable car, take a van tour, or drive yourself. Each one of these modes has its pros and cons, but they are all worth it.

Cable car takes tourists to the top of The Rock.

As you plan to enter the Nature Reserve, you must pay the ticket for all the sights. Everything situated on the Rock is included as well as the big gun which is not on the Rock. We chose to drive, and just like entering any national park there was a ticket booth. All sales were easily conducted in Euros even though the official currency is in Gibraltar pounds.

As we started to climb, there were pullouts every few feet. The very first one was access to the statue of the Pillars of Hercules. After that, we quickly came to the entrance of St. Michael’s Cave. The cave was much larger than I expected. The main room was cavernous enough to hold music concerts in it. Due to the limestone, the cave was full of stalactites and stalagmites. They were lit up and easy to see. The path through the main part of the cave took about ten minutes, but there was a staircase leading to the bottom as well.

Barbary ape sitting high up on The Rock of Gibraltar.

Next we came to the Apes Den. The Barbary Apes are all over the Rock, but the den is where they are fed. There are about 250 macaques on the Rock, and you can almost always see them hanging around the den if you don’t see them in other places. This guy is wearing a radio tracker since many of the macaques are climbing down into the city at night and wreaking havoc.

Royal Engineers memorial inside the tunnels of The Rock.

We also visited the Siege Tunnels which were built in the 18th century then extended during World War II. The main purpose was to provide protection as well as gun emplacements. A few of the guns are still present, and the tunnels are quite long. Visitors cannot go through all the passageways, but the ones that are allowed take approximately an hour to explore. There are many placards with the history and specifications of the tunnels as you meander through.

A canon is placed at an enclosure in the tunnels of The Rock of Gibraltar.

If you drive up, you can not go to the very top of the Rock, but you can do this with the cable car. Many people take the cable car up, then walk down the Rock visiting all the sights on the way.

The Moorish castle entrance on The Rock of Gibraltar.

As you descend, you come upon the Moorish Castle built in the 8th century. The Moors actually occupied Gibraltar twice, and it was from there that the rest of Spain was conquered. The two main parts that remain are the Tower of Homage and the gatehouse. The castle was also used as a British prison for a time.

"The Big Gun" is open for visitors in Gibraltar.

Driving out of the Nature Preserve there is still one more sight that is included in the Rock’s ticket, the Big Gun. This is located down in the city and it is big! Really big weighing in about four tons.

The Rock of Gibraltar is a fascinating bit of geology that has really had a lot of history taking place on it. If you haven’t been, go!

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 3rd of September 2013

Gibraltar is just such a weird and wonderful little place. I love it.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 3rd of September 2013

Thanks Matt!