Gibraltar is a British territory located on the southern coast of Spain that has been the subject of dispute for centuries due to its strategic position in the Strait of Gibraltar. Although known primarily for its famous rock, there is much more to see & do in Gibraltar.
History of Gibraltar.
The history of Gibraltar dates back to Roman times, when the Romans built a fortification on the rock to protect themselves from attacks from North Africa, although there are prehistoric remains of settlements from Neanderthal times. During the Middle Ages, Gibraltar was conquered by several peoples, including the Visigoths and the Arabs, who built a castle on top of the rock.
In 1462, Gibraltar was conquered by the Reyes Católicos of Spain, who used it as a military base to control the Strait of Gibraltar and protect against pirate attacks. In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Gibraltar was conquered by British troops and became a British territory.
Over the centuries, Gibraltar has been the subject of dispute between Spain and Great Britain, and has been considered a point of tension within the two countries. However, in recent years work has been done to improve relations between Spain and Gibraltar, and today it is a safe and welcoming place to visit.
What to see in Gibraltar?
Although the extension of Gibraltar is what it is and there is not much room for anything else, there are plenty of tourist attractions that you can not miss if you pass through there. Here is a list of the most relevant points.
1. St. Michael’s Cave.
One of Gibraltar’s main tourist attractions is undoubtedly St. Michael’s Cave, an impressive network of caves and passageways that extend under the rock. The cave is home to a variety of animal species, including bats & spiders, and is a popular place for guided tours.
2. The Castle of Gibraltar.
Another popular attraction is the castle of Gibraltar, a fortification built by the Romans and expanded during the British era. From the top of the castle, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the coast and the Strait of Gibraltar.
3. Gibraltar Airport.
You can’t miss – as you have to go through it to get there – Gibraltar airport, which is known to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world due to its location in the center of the city and the nearby short runway that crosses a main street. It is a very photogenic place and it is common to see tourists taking pictures next to the planes landing and taking off.
4. The border.
Another point of interest in Gibraltar is the famous border with Spain, which is the only place where you can cross the border between the two countries. The border is an interesting place to see how the passage of people and goods between the two countries is controlled.
5. The monkeys of Gibraltar.
The monkeys of Gibraltar are a very popular tourist attraction. These bearded macaques, also known as magot macaques, have made their home on the Rock of Gibraltar and are a protected species.
They are well known for their friendliness and for their habit of approaching tourists in search of food. Although it may be tempting to feed them, it is important to remember that monkeys are wild animals and should be treated with respect.
If you want to see the monkeys of Gibraltar, you can go up in the Cable Car and visit the population that lives on the rock. You can also take a guided tour through the natural park of Gibraltar and see the monkeys in their natural habitat. Remember, however, that monkeys are wild animals and you must respect their space and not disturb them.
6. The red booths.
Another thing you can not miss in Gibraltar is to take a picture in one of the famous red cabins, which are an icon of the city.
7. The port.
Another place you should not miss in Gibraltar is the port and marina, where you will find a variety of bars and restaurants overlooking the sea. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
8. Punta Europa.
If you want to enjoy unique views, you can not miss Punta Europa, where you can see the Strait of Gibraltar from above. It is an ideal place to take pictures and enjoy the beauty of nature.
9. Main Street.
Another way to get to know Gibraltar is to walk along Main St, the main street of the city, where you will find a variety of stores, bars and restaurants. It is a perfect place to mingle with the people and discover the true essence of Gibraltar.
What is spoken in Gibraltar?
Finally, it is important to mention the peculiar way of speaking of the Gibraltarians, known as “llanito” or “yanito”. Llanito is a mixture of English and Spanish spoken in Gibraltar and is a unique feature of the region’s culture. Gibraltarians often use words and expressions from both languages in their way of speaking, and it is common to hear phrases such as “Te llamo pa’ tras”. “Estoy de libertad”. “Pómpalo brother”.
Some tips to enjoy Gibraltar:
- Do not enter with your car: yes, gasoline is cheaper but you may have to queue for several hours to enter and leave (you have to go through customs in both directions) and the visit may become bitter if the wait is too long.
- Everyone speaks Spanish, don’t worry.
- Go into a pub and order a good English beer. Relax, they serve it cold 😉
- Pay by credit card. Yes, despite being British territory and having the pound as currency in the vast majority of places you can pay with euros but the exchange rate is not usually very advantageous (not that they cheat) so you can pay with your bank card and benefit from the best possible exchange rate, although you should check that your bank does not charge you commissions!
- If you go to see the monkeys, don’t take out food and watch out for shiny objects.
Gibraltar can be seen from Estepona.
You may have noticed that on clear days from Estepona beach you can see two profiles on the horizon. The one on your left is Africa and the one on the right is Gibraltar.