Gibraltar is a “British Overseas Territory” located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula on the north side of the Straights of Gibraltar. It’s relatively small with a total area of 2.6 square miles and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is the densely populated town of Gibraltar, home to over 32,000 people, primarily native Gibraltans. Historically possession of the “Rock” has been important because of its strategic control over access to the straights.
In ancient times the straights were referred to as “The Pillars of Hercules” being the western limit to Hercules expeditions and Plato placed the island of Atlantis beyond the “Pillars of Hercules”. Renaissance tradition claimed the pillars bore the warning Ne plus ultra “nothing further beyond”, serving as a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further. Modern ships usually refer to the passage through the straights in the ship’s log as “chopping the rock” and is usually timed with picking up the official pilot.
No ship passes between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean without transiting the narrow straight between Europe and Africa that sits below the Rock of Gibraltar. In World War II the large gun emplacements up on “The Rock” could prevent any ship from transiting the straight.
Gibraltar has been a diplomatically disputed territory between Spain and Great Britain for a ages and often the Spanish will close the boarder between Spain and Gibraltar as a protest. Since the boarder is used mostly by Spanish citizens who work in Gibraltar it only hurts their own citizens.
Where Your Ship Docks
Cruise ships dock at the commercial harbor on the northwest side of the British city of Gibraltar. The city center is located on a strip of land on the west side of the “Rock”. Usually there are shuttle buses available to take you to the Gibraltar city gates.
The city of Gibraltar is not very large and is easy to walk in once you get to the city entrance. Most visitors are interested in getting up to see the “rock” and the best way up is to book a tour bus, arrange a tour with a local taxi or take the cable car ride. The lower station is located at Red Sands Rd, Gibraltar mid way between the pier and downtown.
The local currency is the Gibraltar Pound currently equal to $1.31 US Dollar. Credit cards are welcome and there are ATM machines available.
The Gibraltar Apes – One of the biggest attractions are the famous Gibraltar Apes, the only free-roaming bands of monkeys in Europe. Originally from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, they are actually Barbary macaques that somehow got to Gibraltar. Currently, some 300 animals in five troops occupy the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.
Alameda Botanic Gardens – Alameda Gardens opened to the public on 14th April 1816. The name Alameda is derived from the Spanish word “Alamo”, or White Poplar and old writings mention these trees growing along the Grand Parade in the center of the gardens.
Cable Car – If you think that Gibraltar is an impressive sight from the ground or even from the sea, wait until you see it as you ride up and down the upper “Rock” on the cable car. It’s a short ride of 6-minute ride that ascends 1,350 feet. A round trip ticket costs G£17.00 with discounts for children and seniors. Plan on a light meal at the Top of the Rock Café as you take in the vistas of North Africa, Spain and Gibraltar
Explore the World War II Tunnels – The tunnels accommodated what amounted to an underground city during WW II manning and defending the batteries that controlled the Straights of Gibraltar.
Gorham’s Cave Complex a World Heritage Site – A sea cave complex and one of the last known habitations of the Neanderthals in Europe.
Lower St Michael’s Cave – The Rock of Gibraltar natural cavern with stalagmite formations and an underground lake.
Spirit of the Rock Distillery – Learn how Gin is made. Includes tastings of various famous Juniper spirits and facts about and Gins history on Gibraltar.
Dominating the passageway from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean the Rock of Gibraltar effectively controls the Straights of Gibraltar and is a British possession. This port of call offers a number of unique experiences for the cruise passenger.