Gibraltar - Time to be enlightened
Gibraltar is situated at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is recognised historically as the southernmost point of Europe and is also strategically positioned at the western end of the Mediterranean, forming one of the ancient Pillars of Hercules. The nearby countries are Spain to the north and Morocco (North Africa) to the south, on the other side of the strait 24 kilometres (15 miles) away. The Rock is mainly Jurassic Limestone some 200 million years old.
Gibraltar’s appeal as a travel destination continues to grow, drawing an international audience from all corners of the globe. Arriving by land, sea and air, visitors are drawn to a unique location that sits at the crossroads of Europe and Africa.
The Rock’s activities are as diverse as they are plentiful, ranging from dolphin watching to exploring historical trails.
Gibraltar’s temperate climate makes it an attractive all year round choice, which is enhanced by local events and customs that offer a flavour of the Gibraltarian warmth. We look forward to welcoming you to our corner of the Mediterranean.
To arrive into Gibraltar is to be awestruck by the sheer majesty of the Jurassic limestone rock that dominates the horizon. The Rock has attracted visitors, some friend, some foe, throughout its colourful history, all drawn to its unique charm and character, which still thrive today in the Gibraltarian people.
Situated on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, the British Overseas Territory is almost entirely surrounded by water other than the narrow isthmus which links it to mainland Spain. Gibraltar is less than seven square kilometres on the outside, but inside lie numerous caves and tunnels that stretch for approximately fifty kilometres. Herein lie some of Gibraltar’s biggest mysteries and secrets.
Discover the Rock’s beauty and natural heritage, its architecture and wildlife. Historical trails will help you wile away the days and shopping in Main Street, perhaps one of the most famous streets in Europe, will tempt you with some of the best bargains around, thanks to the Rock’s Pound Sterling currency and VAT-free status.
Gibraltar’s unique position, at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, also make it an ideal location to explore neighbouring terrain.
We look forward to welcoming you soon.
History of Gibraltar
GIBRALTAR’S LEGENDARY TALE IS FILLED WITH BATTLES AND SIEGES THAT WEAVE CIVILISATIONS AND CULTURES THROUGH THE AGES. THIS HISTORICAL LEGACY LIVES ON TODAY AND CAN BE ENJOYED IN ITS NUMEROUS ATTRACTIONS.
At 426 metres high, the iconic Rock of Gibraltar is honeycombed with over approximately 52 kilometres (32 miles) of tunnelling, created by man at different chapters in its story.
Its pre-historic caves were home to the birth of modern man, and many people believe the female skull discovered in Forbes Quarry in 1848 should have been claimed as an historic find, making today’s Neanderthal man, Gibraltar Woman. Arriving visitors are greeted by the awe- inspiring spectacle of the Tower of Homage and Gate House, looming from within the Rock. This spectacular medieval fortification dates from the second Moorish occupation in the early 14th century. Gibraltar’s survival story is never more poignant than during the Great Siege of 1779-83. The Great Siege Tunnels remain a must-see for any visitor to the Rock. Gibraltar has been at the heart of Britain’s history for centuries. Success at the Battle of Trafalgar was first reported to the world in Gibraltar’s daily newspaper the Gibraltar Chronicle. Tragically, the battle cost the life of Lord Nelson. He was brought ashore at Rosia Bay, preserved in a casket of brandy, before his body was returned to England. During the 19th century Gibraltar flourished as a strategic trading port on the route to India.
With the onset of WWII, Winston Churchill instructed that Gibraltar’s complex tunnel system be once again expanded to create a fortress within a fortress. It is from here that Eisenhower masterminded the North African landings. The Rock’s testament to time is reflected in its people, the Gibraltarians. Warm and friendly by nature, Gibraltar’s hospitality is renown and keeps visitors returning year after year.
DID YOU KNOW?
The name Gibraltar is derived from ‘Jebel Tarik’, meaning ‘Tarik’s Mountain’. Tarik Ibn Zeyad was a Moorish General who was ordered to conquer the area in the name of Islam in 711.
People of Gibraltar
Gibraltar’s population is circa 30,000. Throughout its history, Gibraltar has been inhabited by a range of immigrants from differing cultural backgrounds including Spanish, Genoese, Maltese, Moroccan, Jewish, Indian and Portuguese, who combined with the British settlers to form a varied and multi-racial community. The religion practised in Gibraltar is predominantly Roman Catholicism; however, other Christian denominations and other faiths such and Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also common.
Gibraltar is a shining example of how all races and followers of different religions can live together in a peaceful and harmonious environment. The official language in Gibraltar is English although a mixture of English and Spanish is spoken in casual conversation. This local ‘dialect’ is referred to as ‘Yanito’. Gibraltar’s educational system is based on that of the United Kingdom system and all professions are required to have British qualifications.
The official language is English and all residents follow the British education curriculum, sitting their GSCE’s and A’Levels as they would in mainland UK. However, Spanish is widely spoken, in fact it is the unusual unofficial ‘dialect’ call ‘Yanito’, a mixture of English, Spanish and some Italian words, which is frequently spoken among the locals.
To some outsiders who only speak either English or Spanish, ‘Yanito’ may sound vaguely familiar, as speakers appear to switch languages in mid-sentence. One feature of the language is the pronunciation of English words with a Spanish intonation. All Gibraltarians, also speak standard Spanish when conversing with Spanish speakers.
It seems that, in the first decades of the 19th century, ‘Yanito’ was full of Genoese words, later substituted mainly by Spanish and some English words. There has been a Jewish community in Gibraltar for many years and this has resulted in a significant Jewish influence on the language.
GIBRALTAR OFFERS VISITORS VIEWS OF UNPARALLELED BEAUTY BOTH ON LAND AND AT SEA. WILDLIFE FLOURISHES ON THE ROCK’S POROUS LIMESTONE, AND ITS FLORA AND FAUNA ARE WORLD RENOWNED AND OF CONSERVATIONAL IMPORTANCE.
Gibraltar Candytuft grows nowhere else in Europe and is recognisable by its pale lilac clusters of flowers.
They are abundant during April especially in the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, Upper Rock. Gibraltar’s Nature Reserve, Upper Rock brings together walkers from all over the world, with the most famous of the multitude of paths being the Mediterranean Steps. Located on the eastern face of the Rock, it starts at an altitude of 180 metres and finishes at 426 metres at O’Hara’s Battery, the highest point on the Rock. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded on the Rock over the past few years, and famous residents include the Barbary Partridge and the Peregrine Falcon. Gibraltar lies on the migratory route between Europe and Africa and every spring and winter the skies play host to everything from eagles and vultures to storks and songbirds.
Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the Barbary Macaques, are a species of tailless monkey. Originally from North Africa their presence dates back to the days of the British garrison. The Alameda Gardens, designed in 1816, are an ideal spot to sit and relax. St Michael’s Cave has fascinated visitors since Roman times. Its cathedral cave was long believed to be bottomless, giving way to a legend that Gibraltar is linked to Africa by a subterranean tunnel. Gibraltar’s waters are teeming with sea life and living in the Bay of Gibraltar there are no fewer than three species of dolphin: common, bottlenose and striped.
GIBRALTAR IS A VIBRANT CITY WITH A RANGE OF LEISURE PURSUITS TO SUIT ALL TASTES AND BUDGETS. THE BUSY, BUSTLING CAFÉ SOCIETY OF CASEMATES SQUARE TRANSFORMS INTO LIVELY NIGHTLIFE WITH ENTERTAINMENT AND MUSIC FROM YOUNG RESIDENT BANDS.
The town centre is best enjoyed on foot. Its typical Georgian and Victorian architecture is interspersed with Portuguese, Genoese and Moorish influences, a reminder of Gibraltar’s colourful and chequered past, giving it some of the most interesting architecture in the Mediterranean. Modern Gibraltar is reflected in the financial district of Europort and the two Marinas with their luxury yachts and apartment buildings.
The King’s Bastion Leisure Centre, refurbished from an old battlement, is an ideal location for all the family to enjoy.
Culture and heritage come together every 10 September, National Day, when the Rock celebrates its past. On that day Gibraltarians dress in red and white, the national colours, and there are street parties and celebrations in abundance. The day’s festivities are dramatically rounded off with a firework display and open air concert. Pageantry is always on show in Gibraltar. The daily changing of the guard takes place outside the Governor’s home at the Convent in the centre of Main Street. Throughout the year, History Alive, Gibraltar’s Re-enactment Association parade the streets dressed in period uniforms from the 1700s reminiscent of Gibraltar’s past as a garrison town.
A WORLD OF FLAVOUR
VISITORS TO GIBRALTAR WILL BE STRUCK BY THE VIBRANCY AND COLOUR OF LOCAL LIFE. IT IS AGAINST THIS BACKDROP THAT SO MANY CULTURES LIVE HARMONIOUSLY, AND A WIDE RANGE OF INTERNATIONALLY INSPIRED DISHES CAN BE FOUND.
Local specialist dishes include Calentita, a local delicacy made from chickpea flour; Pinchitos, kebabs made of spiced lamb or chicken cooked over hot coals; Torta de Acelgas, a spinach pie; and Pan Dulce, a specialist bread traditionally eaten at Christmas. Gibraltar’s true flavour comes together once a year at the ‘Calentita’ food festival which takes place each spring in Casemates Square. The festival is a display of the destination’s diversity and local customs.
As well as local dishes, stalls include a range of international cuisine. Gibraltar’s Main Street and Casemates Square are at the centre of its Mediterranean café society with traditional coffee houses dating back to the 1800s. At night, Casemates Square transforms into a vibrant night scene with lively bars and restaurants filled until the early hours. With the sea a strong part of its legacy, fish is a popular staple of Gibraltarian cuisine. There are many specialist Mediterranean and fish restaurants and a further variety of international cuisines can be found around Gibraltar.
Running parallel to Main Street is Irish Town that is well worth a visit with its historic coffee houses, specialist ironmongers, pubs and attractive restaurants. You can find most ethnic and international cuisines in Gibraltar, including Indian, Chinese, Thai, Argentinean, Moroccan, Kosher, Brazilian and European, such as British, French, Spanish and Italian. For a meal on the go, there are fast-food restaurants and conveniently located sandwich bars, plus plenty of ‘ye olde’ English pubs and pavement cafés.