Gibraltar (Gibraltar): The Rock

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

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6? stage: Gibraltar (Gibraltar)

Our trip to Andalucia could not deprive us of a stop in Gibraltar after Cadiz.

Note as? The Rock? or? Gib ?,? an overseas territory of the United Kingdom located at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, a unique place for the curious traveler: a community? British in the Iberian Peninsula, separated from Africa by a narrow strait. In Greek mythology Gibraltar was Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules placed to guard the Mediterranean and at the edge of the known world. From here in 711 Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim governor of Tangier cast? the Islamic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and? The Rock? took its name - Jabal Tariq (Mountain of Tariq) - became Gibraltar (Gibraltar). Strategically important, this last strip of Europe was ceded to Great Britain, from Spain, in the Treaty of Utrecht 1713 and? it was formally declared a British colony in 1830. The largest part? at the top of the rock? still used as a military installation and? off-limits to the public.

1 day

21 May
Departing by bus from Cadiz at 10:30, we arrive at the Linea de la Concepcion, a Spanish town on the border, at 11:30. At the border, the customs officers check the documents and this makes us feel like we are in an exodus of refugees; a strange feeling, but this? necessary for security reasons. The road that leads to Gibraltar suddenly widens into a large stretch of asphalt which in reality? ? an airport runway cut in half? from the street itself! There is also a modern terminal. There? that baffles us? that the beginning and end of the track are limited by the sea ... This solution? caused by the scarce space that Gibraltar had available to expand, torn from the slopes of the Rock, from the surrounding cliffs and sometimes carved out of the sea. Unfortunately, the need for space for a population of 30.000 has created an exaggerated urbanization, so much so that the inhabited area is called the 'concrete jungle'.
IS? impressive how the atmosphere around changes as you enter the city, from the hot and exuberant Spain you pass to a fervent and orderly England. The streets signposted in English, the red post boxes, the red telephone boxes, the kiosks selling fish & chips and the typical "bobbies" in uniform: we are like catapulted into a London neighborhood, the only difference? that cars travel on the right, as in neighboring Spain.
Shortly after the border with bus n? 5 we arrive at the bus station which is located in a square at the entrance of Grand Casemates Square and with another bus, the number 2 we arrive at our Hotel, the Caleta, located along the coastal road on the Mediterranean side. Though ? a 4 star looks quite old at least externally (? under renovation) but its location? truly enchanting. We are worried but reassured when we see the room that? very elegant, balcony overlooking the fortress and in the company of the sounds of flocks of seagulls circling among the rocks. After placing our luggage, we take the bus that takes us to the center and enter through an arch in? Grand Casemates Square ?, the main square invaded by tourists where there are numerous restaurants. Casemates Square? one of the two main areas where people congregate in Gibraltar, currently for fun and entertainment, but what not? always been like that. It was under the control of Spain until the Treaty of Utrecht in the early 2th century when Great Britain took control. It continued to be used in this way until the twentieth century but we must remember that the square? It was also used for public hangings. Now ? a place where people of different beliefs and ethnicities meet in the spirit of conviviality? that ? cos? characteristic of Gibraltar. Most of the popular outdoor restaurants and food and drink vendors are located here, while Main Street? the main shopping street where you can find everything from hitech products to whiskey. There is also the monument dedicated to the volunteers who participated in the 1? World War. Casemates Square today hosts a rally of vintage cars. Among the many cars of past years I see with great amazement and emotion a Fiat X9 / 70, the sports car from the 1973s that I owned, as red as the one I had! I approach the owner and tell him that I had had one in and he is amazed and congratulates me praising the car. I still get excited seeing my? Red? from many years ago ... I shouldn't have taken it off, too bad!
We see a typical kiosk that sells hot dogs ... but s? let's have a European snack!
A visit to Gibraltar cannot? not include a walk along Main Street, the central, pedestrianized and entirely commercial street. Here? a succession of souvenir shops, restaurants, tea rooms and shops of various kinds. Prices more? English than Spanish. We arrive at the cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned near which stands the statue erected to remember the most? 300 years of founding the Corps of Royal Engineers in Gibraltar. You can see the cable car that leads to the top of the fortress that we will take tomorrow. The Convent? an ancient Franciscan convent that from 1711? the official residence of the governors of Gibraltar. In front of c ?? the Guard House or the headquarters of the guard body. We turn right towards the coast and pass through a playground, Commonwealth Park and take a lift down to Queensway Road and the adjacent Marina Bay full of fabulous boats. Something absolutely original? the King? s Bastion, an ancient cannon bastion of the time, which now houses an entertainment center with bowling, cinema and ice skating rink. We continue on Wall Road, a street that runs along the ancient walls and leads up to Southport Gate, one of the most? impressive fortifications of Gibraltar which are part of what was once a series of walls and fortifications built in the middle? of the sixteenth century in defense of the territory for hundreds of years. Just outside the open arch in the walls is Trafalgar Square, with the adjoining Trafalagar Cemetery. We continue to the American Wall Memory which recalls the naval enterprises of the United States and the United Kingdom in the vicinity. of Gibraltar during the Great War. The monument ? it was inaugurated in 1937. Sixty-one years later, in November 1998, another bronze plaque commemorated Operation Torch, the North African invasion of World War II. Let's go back to Grand Casemates Square.
While waiting for dinner, we wander through the streets around the square. It looks like a little London with electronic and liquor stores but? the imposing fortress that dominates all this small territory and that brings us back to the geographical aspect of Gibraltar. We spot a place that we like immediately, the? Rock Fish and Chips ?.
Well a delight, best fish and chips, better than some similar places in the UK. Service ? very fast and friendly, great conversation with Abdul the chef and the Moroccan owner with whom we talk at length about his land reminding us of our trip in 2013. An interesting end of the day.

2 day

22 May
This morning we are awakened by the sound of the seagulls that crowd The Rock placed in front of our balcony. We go out early and with the bus n? 2 we go to Europe Point the point pi? southern Gibraltar and the European mainland. Area ? flat and occupied by a playground and some buildings including a cafeteria where we have a hearty breakfast between strong gusts of wind. The spectacle that is offered to our eyes? incomparable. You can see the coast of North Africa including Ceuta and the Rif mountains of Morocco. like the Bay of Gibraltar and the cities? along its right and left coasts. Has the government of Gibraltar spent? 4,4 million pounds to renew Point Europe which? was inaugurated in 2011.

Trinity Lighthouse
Of the three attractions of Point Europe, what is the most? often visited and more? frequently commented on? the Trinity Lighthouse, or the Point Europa Lighthouse. Construction of the Point Europa Lighthouse was begun in 1838, by then Governor Alexander Woodford.

Harding's battery
In 2013 an original cannon? RML? 12,5 inches of 38 tons that fired 800-pound bullets? been mounted on a carriage? replica ?.

Ibrahim al-Ibrahim Mosque
White as snow? the mosque pi? southern Europe visible from the sea from many kilometers away.

Shrine of Our Lady of Europe
Built on the remains of a small mosque built by the Arabs in 711 during their first landing. Later it was transformed into a Christian sanctuary in honor of the Madonna Patroness of Europe, with the devout intention of consecrating the entire continent to God, through Mary, as a place of prayer and worship in its pi? point pi? southern.

Monument to General Wladislaw Sikorski
Dedicated in January 1945 to General Wladislaw Sikorski, Prime Minister of Poland and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish forces, it was placed at the eastern end of the runway of what was then the RAF North Front (now RAF of Gibraltar).
Consisting of a base on which? a propeller recovered from the fallen B-24 was placed and also a plate:
"Near this place the
General Władysław Sikorski
Prime Minister of Poland and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish forces
lost his life in a flight accident on 4 July 1943
He fought and? died in the service of his country and for the common cause of all nations fighting for freedom?
Not omnis moriar "

We are moving towards the Cable Car Station that leads to the Upper Rock or the top of the Rocca. Alas? cableway ? stop, too much wind! They tell us to come back while waiting for them to give permission for departures and we think about going to see the famous 100-ton cannon. No holiday in Gibraltar can? be complete without visiting this wonder. The late nineteenth century saw the construction of four of these giants by the authorities? military of Great Britain. Two were built for Gibraltar, while two others were built for Malta. Has a rod that? longer more? of 32 feet and can? shoot up to 8 miles away. Truly an extraordinary weapon for its time. Were they the most? large muzzle-loading guns and required a hydraulic system to carry out the projectile loading operations. It took 35 men to arm it and it could fire one shot every four minutes. The bullet weighed about 2000 pounds and was traveling at high speed. about 1500 feet per second! It is said that on the occasion of a visit by the Inspector General in 1902, he was preparing to fire five shots at full charge but failed on the first attempt. Further were tried, but nothing seemed to work. At the end of the waiting time, which was thirty minutes, a volunteer was required to enter the barrel to remove the unexploded projectile by hooking it to an extractor so that it could be removed. A tall thin soldier stepped forward and tied to the waist was lowered into the barrel. Completed the task it is said that he was on the spot, promoted to Bomber. Not the pi? exceptional rewards for risking his life, but it certainly made him famous. In the attached museum? told the episode with the curious addition of a mannequin stuck in the barrel with the legs dangling! These English ... Another weapon present? a fully functional WW2 anti-aircraft gun and a nice green color placed there? as a tourist attraction.

We go back to the cable car station but we have the bad news that the system is not working. Not bad there are mini buses that make the climb with the addition? the visit to the Caves of S. Michele and the tunnel of the great siege: all in all a favorable combination paid 30? per person. Path ? pleasant and takes place along the panoramic road that leads to the top giving breathtaking views and? impossible not to be amazed by a view so? extraordinary. The fortress ? a spur of rock, overlooking the city? with the grandeur of its 426 meters in altitude and on the other side? overlooking the sea. IS? just from these locations that you can? enjoy the best view, from the top overlooking the whole city, the port and the gulf, moreover, on the other side of the Rocca, you can? admire the rugged coast that drops steeply to the sea. In front of Morocco and the blue of the sky and the sea. Looking back at Spain, the industrial port of Algeciras, Andalucia lying sleepy in the sun. Up there? at the top, c ?? the natural habitat of the Gibraltar monkeys and a little pi? Below is the Torre de l? Homage, the only remnant of the ancient Arab castle built in 1333, which dominates the city. The Moorish castle of Gibraltar? remnant of the Moorish occupation of Gibraltar, which? duration 710 years. It was built when the Berber leader Tariq ibn Ziyad conquered? the Rocca which took its name. Upon our arrival we are greeted by the friendly monkeys, many tourists are fascinated and come to take pictures. Gibraltar? the only corner of Europe where monkeys live in the wild. The fortress ? in fact inhabited by the well-known Barbary macaques of the colony of Gibraltar (barbary apes), the only primate that lives free in Europe. It is not known why these monkeys have taken up residence in this place, the versions are contrasting and pass from the Romans to get to the Arabs, but c? even those who claim that they are indigenous. They meet everywhere! They are not at all intimidated by man ... quite the contrary! Snatch passers-by? it also happened that cameras and personal items end up in the loot. In fact, you are advised NOT to carry any plastic bags in your hand ... the monkeys associate it with food and ... they steal it from you! Also, if they feel threatened or bothered, they can bite ...
It is said that when the monkeys disappear from Gibraltar, the British will also leave why? Gibraltar will cease? to be their possession.

Continue the excursion to the Caves of San Michele.
Over 150 caves have formed in the porous limestone over the millennia thanks to infiltration of rainwater. Permanent rivulets and drops of limestone rainwater have shaped magnificent stalagmites and stalactites over time.
Those of San Michele are the most? spectacular. Their interiors are emphasized by wonderful plays of colored lights. In the room pi? large, the "Cathedral Cave",? An auditorium with 100 seats was created for classical and modern music concerts attended by over one million spectators a year.
Their name ? presumably due to the similarity to other caves in Puglia, Italy, where the Archangel Michael is said to have appeared. The entrance to the cave of San Michele is located about halfway. road between the base and the top of the Rocca.

But the caves also have archaeological interest.
The first human traces date back to the Neolithic, in fact in 1867 stone axes, arrowheads, ceramic shards, jewelry made of shells and bone needles were found. In some caves there are also cave paintings and two human skulls with the typical shape of the Neanderthal head. These findings indicate that human presence dates back to about 40.000 years ago. Even among ancient peoples such as Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians, the cave? been mentioned in some writings.
As the Rock of Gibraltar supported the skies at the end of the world according to ancient mythology, the Caves of St Michael represent the entrance to the underworld.

Great Siege Tunnel
The Great Siege of Gibraltar? It was an unsuccessful attempt by Spain in alliance with France to take Gibraltar out of Britain's control during the American Revolutionary War. This ? was the pi? large military operation in terms of numbers, especially as regards the great assault of September 18, 1782. It? was the most? long siege suffered by British forces, as well as being one of the most? longest in history. The siege, and the consequent blockade, lasted? for three years, from 1779 to 1783. On September 14, 1783, the British destroyed the French and Spanish floating batteries that were besieging the fortress and in February 1783 the preliminary peace negotiations began for which the state of siege ceased. During the Second World War, the British equipped the tunnel further in order to avoid an attack by German troops. 30.000 British soldiers were stationed there in 1942 to control entry into and out of the Mediterranean. The louvers and those used for the gun posts now offer an unusual view of the Bay of Gibraltar and southern Spain. Along the way you can listen to suggestive audio effects and admire some very realistic statues that make the atmosphere that was breathed during the sieges particularly well.
Even without the cable car trip we are very satisfied also why? the driver of the minibus gave explanations in Italian, which we would not have had if we had to walk to both the Caves and the Tunnel. Not all evils come to harm!
Let's go back to the center and decide to take a tour in the city center? look at the shops and stop to eat. Gibraltar? a tourist trap, beautiful houses and English-style streets that contrast with the scorching and suffocating sun of Southern Europe, but the shops are expensive, very dear.
We stopped to eat in a typically English place, typically touristy, typically expensive, overpriced, how? dearest everything in this place ... Then a well deserved rest.

3 day

23 May
Also this morning we are awakened by the seagulls but we have to leave for Malaga at 10:30 and so we take it easy by lazing in bed and calmly prepare our luggage. Let's take a look at the residences around the hotel: do they have city names? Italian but ... some also some writing errors: VENEZZIA (2 z) and TERRAZA (1 z), will they have compensated for the errors?
How to go by English bus to the border and then we will take another one to the bus station. From time to time we turn to observe "The Rock" once again, to fix it in our memory along with all the good memories related to it. We are ready to expatriate again, to return to Spain to breathe a little more air. relaxed and cheaper. Just outside the customs gate c ?? a statue dedicated to the Campogibraltare? os or all those workers who in difficult times for Spain crossed the border every day in search of a job with which to support their family. This monument? the city tribute? of La Linea to all those who have worked (and still work) in Gibraltar. Breakfast on Spanish soil and then at the bus station.

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