Gibraltar - The Window to Africa
The white and harsh limestone rock rises up almost vertically and lively monkeys are not bothered by the delighted travellers who visit their homeland. Gibraltar is a unique destination and combines Europe's pride with Africa's exoticism.
Geography - The rock between Europe and Africa
The small peninsula of Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, which lies on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar has an area of only 6.5 km² and the border to Spain is not longer than 1.2 kilometres. Gibraltar does not have a separate capital. The border to Africa is the most narrow area in the region. At the most narrow point of the Strait of Gibraltar the distance to the next continent is less than 15 kilometres. The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot summers and humid winters. In addition, the peninsula is affected by the winds of the levant from the east and the ponente from the west.
Nature - A rock of limestone
You can see the steep Rock of Gibraltar, which is 426 metres high, from afar. The harsh limestone rock is the peninsula's landmark and towers over the rest of the region. It is also Upper Rock and together with the surrounding marine area, it has been declared a nature reserve. Only a small proportion of the once thick forests along the rock has been preserved to the present day. Most of them fell victim to the clearings by the British. However, the inhabitants make every effort to preserve the natural beauty of their homeland with the botanical garden Alameda. Apart from its well-known monkeys, Gibraltar is mainly populated by birds like accipitriformes and falcons. The surrounding waters are home to whales and dolphins.
Natural sights - The Barbary macaques
The highlight of every trip to Gibraltar are the many Barbary macaques which live on and around the Rock. Gibraltar is the only European region in which you find these monkeys. It is not clear how they came to the island. It is believed that they were probably transported from Morocco to Gibraltar a couple of centuries ago. According to legend, the British rule over the island will last until the last monkey has disappeared. Holidaymakers should also visit the limestone caves called St. Michael's Cave and go on a tour through Gorham's Cave. Researchers recently found cross-shaped rock engravings from Neanderthals which are over 39,000 years old.
Culture - Gibraltar as a pawn in the hands of the powerful
The Neanderthals already retreated to this remote part of Europe 28,000 years ago. Gorham's Cave is a witness of this impressive period. The Rock of Gibraltar was known as one of the Pillars of Hercules in ancient times. In 711 the Arabs and Berbers laid claim to the region. The European nation only showed increasing interest in Gibraltar from the 16th century on. Both the Habsburgs and the Dutch as well as the Spanish and the French contested for the small peninsula but the maritime power of Great Britain won in 1704. Since 1830, Gibraltar has been a British crown colony but it has its own government. The population of almost 29,000 people is subject to both Spanish and English influences but they increasingly see themselves as an independent nation with its own history and identity.
Cultural sights - Churches, mosques and the lighthouse
Despite its small size, Gibraltar has very interesting cultural sights. The museum, the castle and the Roman-Catholic cathedral on Cathedral Square are worth a visit. At Gibraltar's most southern point you find the Europe Point. It is the location of the Trinity Lighthouse, which was built in1841, and Europe's most southern mosque, the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. The Shrine of Our Lady of Europe is also worth seeing. The Great Siege Tunnels and the big canon at the west coast are reminiscent of Gibraltar's past of war.
Experience - Spain and England in the smallest spaces
Gibraltar's affinity with the United Kingdom is not only apparent from street names and signs but also from the cuisine. Fish and chips and beer are served in all bars and pubs. Of course the Spanish influence is also noticeable. Spanish restaurants serve tapas, tortillas and calentitas. The most lively pub miles are located along the Casemates Square, at the beautiful Marina Bay and in Main Street. The latter is also a great location for shopping trips. A cable car ride to the Rock and its observation platform is a particularly unique experience. In good weather, visitors can see as far as Morocco.
Activities - Hiking on the Rock
Gibraltar is excellently suited for hikes through the forests and the mountainous regions around the Rock of Gibraltar. Sun-worshippers can relax at the beach and swim in the sea. The unique position makes it possible to travel from Europe to Africa in one day. The starting point for this journey is the peninsula's lively harbour. Holidaymakers can easily reach Morocco on a yacht.
The official language in Gibraltar is English but due to the proximity to Spain, Spanish is also spoken by many people. Gibraltar pound is the region's currency. As it is only used in Gibraltar and cannot be changed back into other currencies, travellers best spend the money they changed on the peninsula.
Gibraltar fascinates with the charming atmosphere of a small town and is a welcome change for day trippers and city travellers. Animal lovers will enjoy meeting the lively monkeys.