Gibraltar

Gibraltar Attractions - Rocks, Monkeys, and More


Passengers on cruise ships heading for Gibraltar can look forward to a varied daily program there. The overseas territory of the United Kingdom is tiny at 6,5 square kilometers, but there is more than enough to see. Our tour described below takes us to selected attractions in Gibraltar.

Gibraltar's panorama


Gibraltar's panorama


Gibraltar's center


Gibraltar's center


The Rock of Gibraltar and the Barbary macaques that live there

Gibraltar's spectacular limestone rock “The Rock” is around four kilometers long and a maximum of 1,2 kilometers wide. The Rock is more than 420 meter high. The view from the top is one of the most beautiful things the British enclave in the south of Spain has to offer. There are more than 100 caves inside the rock. In the distant past they were probably retreats for the Neanderthals. The British built the caves into an extensive defense system during their reign.

Gibraltar - The Rock

Gibraltar - The Rock


How to get there?

The most convenient way to go on an organized rock tour at the Cruise Liner Terminal is with shared taxis. The cars take their passengers to a height of almost 400 meters. A stop will be made beforehand at Michael's Cave and the Barbary ape colony. The coveted rock tours are not only offered at the port, but all over the city.

A tried and tested means of transport to get on the rocks is the cable car. It has been in operation since 1966. The gondolas, which can hold around 20 people, are safe and run regularly. The journey up to an altitude of 412 meters takes just six minutes.

The distance between the unspectacular cruise terminal and the cable car base station is three kilometers. There is no direct bus connection from the cruise ship dock to the cable car valley station. We don't want to take a taxi because we want to see something of the city. That's why we walk towards the center for almost half an hour. Our intermediate destination is the North Bastion at the Waterport Casemates.

From the North Bastion we take a number 3 bus to the cable car station on Red Sands Road. The station is located at the southern end of the city center at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. When you buy your ticket for the cable car, you can also book entry to the nature reserve below the mountain station.

Welcome to Gibraltar
Collective taxes on the Rock of Gibraltar
North Bastion Bus Station
Gibraltar Cable Car valley station

Gibraltar seen from above

The observation deck of the mountain station grants visitors breathtaking views of the city, the Spain flanking the enclave, the Strait of Gibraltar with North Africa, the east coast of the peninsula and the airport and cruise port. Many ships are regularly in the roadstead off Gibraltar to bunker fuel. From the height you can see Rosia Bay, Gibraltar's only natural harbor, and the massive outer coastal fortifications built by the British. One of the defenses is Parson's Lodge Battery. As early as 1744, more than 20 cannons protected the coastal strip there.

Gibraltar seen from above
Mein Schiff 2 at the Cruise Terminal Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
Gibraltar - North Africa ahead

Gibraltar's Barbary macaques

O'Haras's Battery is an abandoned gun emplacement. The way there leads steeply downhill from the cable car station, past the Barbary macaques living in the crevices and caves of the rock. As a popular tourist attraction of the Nature Reserve, the primates are fed vegetables and fruits by a state institution. The 200 to 250 monkeys that live on Gibraltar are not only cute, they are also devious, little thieves. The monkeys smell food wrapped in plastic bags over long distances and they try everything to get hold of these delicacies. When they feel threatened, they respond by biting and scratching; after all, despite the care given to them, the monkeys are wild animals. It is very easy to lose a finger or more in a bite attack.

Barbary macaque


Barbary macaque


Barbary macaques grooming


Barbary macaques grooming


Gibraltar's Skywalk

We follow the narrow driveway towards St. Michael's Cave and see a bit of Africa's north coast. A shipyard and other port operations lie deep below us. The Spanish mainland looks very close. On the east coast, above Sandy Bay, a skywalk was completed as a tourist attraction in 2018. The glass viewing platform is 340 meters high. From the Skywalk we look out over parts of the city and the Strait of Gibraltar. We enjoy the view of Morocco and Spain and the Barbary macaques frolicking on the Skywalk.

Gibraltar - Skywalk viewpoint

Gibraltar - Skywalk viewpoint


O'Haras's Battery, Europa Point and the Pillars of Hercules

O'Hara's Battery is said to cost three Gibraltar pounds to enter. But nobody collects the money. The way up to the battery is extremely steep and arduous, because the gun emplacement is at a height of 421 meters, almost at the highest point of the rock. A good quarter of an hour should be taken into account for the ascent. The way and the effort involved are worth it. The all-round view is fantastic. We see the southern tip of the peninsula, Europa Point. Its characteristics are a lighthouse and one of the largest mosques in Europe. And even Morocco's coastline with the more than 800 meters high Jebel Musa can be seen in the haze. According to legend, this and the Rock of Gibraltar were the pillars of Hercules. According to Greek philosophers, that is where the world ended.

Ascent to O'Hara's Battery
View from O'Hara's Battery towards Europa Point


The 9,2 'cannon installed in O'Hara's Battery was established in 1901. The range of the gun was put at more than 32 kilometers. Since the military gave up the position, the Gibraltar Heritage Trust has taken care of the orphaned complex.

St. Michael's Cave

For the descent following O'Hara's Battery, we would have liked to use the Mediterranean Steps originally created by the British military. They zigzag down from the nearby Lord Airey's Battery to Jew's Gate cemetery. But the beginning of the path is already in bad shape. We like to leave the path along the cliffs to better trained hikers than we are.

Gibraltar - the Mediterranean Steps
St. Michael's Cave


Instead we follow the driveway down to St. Michael's Cave, 800 to 900 meters away. The Upper Hall of the stalactite cave is connected to a smaller cave via five stations. The caverns are up to 62,50 meters deep below the entrance to the cave. Other chambers are the Lower St. Michael's Cave and the Cathedral Cave. Its 400 seats are used for concerts and theater performances. For reasons of time and also because of the many minibuses parked in front of the cave, we save ourselves the cave.

 

 

View of the Nature Reserve Information Center and the 100 Ton Gun

After St. Michael's Cave we follow a path back into the center. At first the path is uncomfortable; later he gets better. At Jew's Gate, the historic Jewish cemetery, the path is back in good condition. There the Nature Reserve Information Center was set up and there is the Pillars of Hercules Monument. It is reminiscent of the pillars of Hercules. At this altitude we have now overcome many meters. Spectacular rock formations tower above us. The city lies below us, within reach. In between, we also see the 100 Ton Gun stationed in the Napier of Magdala Battery. She was the super cannon of the Victorian era. Then we leave the nature reserve and a quarter of an hour later we see the Horatio Nelson statue in front of the South Bastion.

Nature Reserve information center
Columns of the Hercules Monument
The 100 Ton Gun
Horatio Nelson statue

Main Street and downtown Gibraltar

The South Bastion is followed by the Referendum Gates and Main Street. Part of the street is car-free. We pass the Inces Hall Theater, look down the Convent Ramp and then stand in front of The Convent. The mighty brick building was originally the home of the Franciscan brothers. It has been the residence of the Governor of Gibraltar since 1728. Next to the convent is the narrow King's Chapel, the garrison church. The Classicist-style Government Building and The Angry Friar pub are opposite the Convent.

The Convent - residence of the Governor of Gibraltar
Government building

Gibraltar's Cathedrals and Parliament Buildings

Other notable buildings include Gibraltar's Supreme Court, the inconspicuous Anglican Cathedral of The Holy Trinity and finally the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned. You miss the splendor and splendor of many Catholic episcopal churches completely.

After City Mill Lane, which branches off to the right, the representative parliament building follows on the left side of the street. At its rear is the wide John Mackintosh Square which the town hall closes off at the rear. We see Gibraltar's tourist information office between the two buildings.

Nave of the Roman Catholic Cathedral


Nave of the Roman Catholic Cathedral


Gibraltar's Parliament


Gibraltar's Parliament


On Main Street we find bars, restaurants and various shops. This also includes a large store owned by the British retail company Marks & Spencer. The chain stores we are familiar with from other cities in Europe have apparently not yet gained a foothold in Gibraltar.

Sandy Bay - Gibraltar's home beach

After a short rest, we look for the next bus stop and get on a bus number 4. It takes us past the Great Siege Tunnels to Sandy Bay. The beach is in the east of the peninsula below the rock. We had noticed the man-made beach hours before from a height of 400 meters.

If we continued to follow the road, we would come to Europa Point in the extreme south of Gibraltar after crossing a long tunnel. There is a lighthouse and the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim mosque, which is said to be one of the largest mosques in Europe. We saw both of them before from O'Haras's Battery.

Sandy bay

Sandy bay


It's time to leave Sandy Beach. Our cruise ship, the Celebrity Reflection, wouldn't wait for us if we were delayed. We take the bus back to the North Bastion and then walk the last two kilometers back to the ship. In the Cruise Liner Terminal, Gibraltar says goodbye to its guests with “Thank you for your visit”.

summary

Little Gibraltar seems very big to us, not least because of its gigantic rock. Those who like and are good on their feet can see the essential parts of the British overseas territory in one day. The buses we prefer and the cable car help a lot. Two years later we are visiting Gibraltar again, this time with the brand new one Mein Schiff 2. Under Gibraltar - shore excursion on your own let's describe what we experience.

We prepared intensively for our day visit to Gibraltar. We found useful information for individually planning visitors at http://www.visitgibraltar.gi

Update - January 2021