Gibraltar Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia
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Gibraltar Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Gibraltar is a small peninsula with an epic profile that lies at the south of Spain. Just a 3-hour flight from London, it is a tiny slice of the British Empire with a heroic colonial history and
300 days of sunshine each year. Although it covers less than 3 square miles, Gibraltar’s strategic location has made
it one of the most fought over places in Europe. For centuries, it has withstood
political manoeuvring, sieges and battles, and today with its red phone boxes,
Union Jacks and high street shops, Gibraltar staunchly stands as a small pocket
of England in the heart of the Mediterranean. No matter where you go here, the Rock of Gibraltar looms large. Take the cable car right to the top of this
1,400 foot high limestone ridge and enjoy the spectacular views; south, across the Strait of Gibraltar
to the African coastline, and north to Spain. According to legend, this is where Hercules
separated Europe from Africa and the cliffs on each side were once known
as the Pillars of Hercules. If the Rock of Gibraltar is famous
around the world, so are its residents, the Barbary Macaques
that have lived here for centuries. Visitors flock here to watch the antics of
the only population of wild monkeys in Europe. Be warned though, they can be light fingered if they think there are treats to be enjoyed. It is said that, as long as the monkeys remain
on the rock, so will the British. It’s a legend, born during one
of the longest sieges in history when the French and Spanish tried unsuccessfully
to take Gibraltar by force during four bloody years in the 18th century. The way locals tell it, at least one surprise attack during the siege
was thwarted by the monkeys who alerted the night watch to the invaders
with their commotion. Take a tour through the great siege tunnels
built during this time. They remain one of the most impressive feats
of military engineering and helped the English to a
seemingly impossible victory. Using only hand tools and gunpowder, 18 men dug this 82 foot tunnel in less than
5 weeks to provide access to the rock’s north face. From this position, they were able to fire
onto enemy lines and hold off the invaders. Discover more stories of battle and bravery
with a tour of the Military Heritage Centre, a former artillery battery near the entrance
to the tunnels. Here, you’ll find relics from
the great siege, as well as a Memorial Chamber which pays tribute to all those who gave their lives in defence
of Gibraltar over the centuries. During the second world war, the Mediterranean became a main theatre of war
and Gibraltar again became a key target. To withstand the attacks, almost all the civilians were evacuated and
more than 30 more miles of tunnels were built, creating an underground city beneath the rock. Hike to the Moorish Castle, a medieval fortification which is one of the
most recognised features of the rock. The Union Jack you’ll see flying from the tower was first raised in 1704 and has flown proudly
ever since. A short walk downhill is St Michael’s Cave, a network of limestone caves that has fascinated
visitors since roman times. Carved by thousands of years of rainwater, this cave once believed to be bottomless, is open to visitors and is a dramatic backdrop
for concerts, ballets and theatre performances. For another dramatic backdrop, visit the very
southern tip of Gibraltar. Here, you’ll find the Europa Point Lighthouse
with its classically British design, as well as the Ibrahim-Al-Ibrahim Mosque, one of the largest mosques in a non-muslim country. Gibraltar’s cultural blend is truly unique and nowhere is this more evident than along
Main Street. Almost every building here was destroyed during
the great siege and it has been rebuilt over the centuries, creating a streetscape like no other. Stroll to the northern end to Grand Casemates Square and the Old Town
which dates back to medieval times. Once this was the site of hangings, but today, it is a thriving hub of pubs, bars
and restaurants and a great place to relax with a pint of lager. From English pints to Spanish paella, historic battles to cheeky monkeys, Gibraltar’s magic lies in its unexpected
mix of the familiar and the exotic a small taste of England right in the heart
of the Mediterranean.


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