A View at the Top, Gibraltar
Even I didn't had the chance to go all the way to the highest point on the Upper Rock the scenery from the Great Siege tunnels and from the Apes Den it was breathtaking. As it was a great sunny day on that day it has made it more enjoyable to see these panoramic scenery.
From the top of the rock of Gibraltar you have a fantastic view over southern Spain and Africa is very visible aswell.
On your right you have the Atlantic ocean and on the left the mediteranian.
It´s also facinating to be at a place that has played such an important part of european history.
There are two ways leading from the old town up to the rocks. One is using a set of steps leading to a place near the Moorish Tower or go via Wills’s road to the same direction. The other one are the so-called Union Jack steps. They start near the crossing of Prince Edward Road / Castle Road which is located behing the Garrison Library. If you stand at this crossing, looking up to the rock, look for the upper right way, leaving Lime Kiln Road after behind you on the left hand side after a couple of meters. You will soon see the steps with the painted Union Jack which were constructed in 1967. They are your gateway to the rock. From there, a path (lloking more like wilderness) starts which will lead you up to Old Queens Road. Follow it up to the left, pass Devil’s Gap Battery and continue from there your way up turning to the right. Soon you will see the Cable Car intermediate station. From there, you can follow the road system further up to the rock. Or look out from the ape’s den which is close to the station. Your thrid option is to use the Charles V walls to climb up the rock (see sepearate tip about that for further details).
From the top of The Rock you can see across to the refinery near San Roque in Spain. All around this bay area are large petrochemical and industrial installations such as a stainless steel manufacturing plant and a oil refinery.
There are two spectacular canons which have a 233mm opening and could send projectiles of almost 250 kilos. During the Second World war from this strategic position at an altitude of more than 400 metres, the most powerful weapons defended the waters of the Straight.
This is probably the best and cheapest way to see the rock. It works out cheaper than taking the cable car and saves you a lot of walking.
You pay the driver at the end of the trip and the excursion can be paid in Euro or Pounds Sterling. The cost in Euro was 25 euro
The excursion starts from the end of the main street (walking past the museum to the wall where the trafalgar cemetery is). and ends up back here.
The driver will tell you all about the history and facts relating to Gibraltar and point out things you might not have noticed by yourself.
The driver stops to let you take pictues on the way up. You can get out at the Pilar of Hercules and see the Atlantic on one side and the Mediteranean on the other.
The next stop is St Michaels cave. A cave now used as an audotoriam, but completely natural. This has been used as a hospital and hide out during wars and battles. Here you can meet some of the monkey population of the rock too.
Gibraltar is the only place in Europe where these monkeys live. They were brought over by Spanish soldiers from Africa as pets, but they ran away and started a life on the rocks.
The next stop is the tunnels. These were carved out by hand by the British. You can walk right down to the end of these. The openings made for the cannons and for ventilation provide great views of Spain, Gibraltar, the Seas and the airport.
The Moorish castle was closed when we visited
The Upper Rock Nature Reserve is a protected area of great natural beauty perched about 1380ft (421m) above sea level on the limestone peninsular of Gibraltar. Its most famous residents are the Barbary Apes, which have lived on the Rock for hundreds of years as Europe's only free-roaming apes. According to legend, when the apes leave, Gibraltar will cease to be British. The Reserve is also home to many species of bird, such as buzzards and Barbary partridges. Visitors also come to see St Michael's Cave, one of a vast warren of caves containing stalagmites and stalactites, and the Siege Tunnels, which were used as a defence system by the British in the Great Siege (1779-1783) against the French and Spanish. Another popular site in the Reserve is the 14th-century Moorish Castle, which testifies to the diverse history of the peninsular.
I have written about many of these seperately in other tips, but this tip is to give you an idea of what the Upper Rock Nature Reserve consists of and how much it is to get there.
St Michael's Caves - Ape's Den - Military and Heritage Centre - Great Siege Tunnels - Gibraltar a City Under Siege Exhibition - Medieval Castle (closed for restoration) - 100 Ton Gun
Admission including attractions: (Adults 8.00 pounds) (Children aged 5-12years 4.00 pounds) (Chldren aged 4years and under Free) (Vehicles 1.50 pounds)
Admission for pedestrians: (including children aged 5-12 years) excluding attractions 50p
0930hrs-1915 (last entry 1845) Daily
Take the gondola or hike to the top of the rock where you can see the Spanish coast and a great view of the Mediterranean Sea. It was my first sight of the Sea and I was very excited. There's a cafe where you can grab lunch or a snack and a little office where you can rent headphones and a PDA that gives you a personal tour.
Beware: The monkeys can even be found inside the cafe, so watch your food carefully.
At the top, lodge your passport at the desk in exchange for the kit including headset & LCD touch-screen.
This will describe the several views you will face. You will be explained the history of Gibraltar, and its strategic importance.
NOTE: the desk operator leaves at 1700 hours in May, so make sure you return the kit in time & get your passport back!
One of the things you must do when in Gibraltar is to take a trip to the Top of the Rock, either as part of an organised tour or independently via the cable car. You can get off the cable car half way up and visit the Apes Den or go all the way to the top. There isn't a great deal up there, just a souvenir shop, cafe etc. but it is the views that you are really going for. Along with a main viewing balcony there are viewing points all around so you can see both the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Bay of Gibraltar and the harbour area on the other. And of course you get a great view over the airport across to Spain. Look towards the harbour area to see all of the land reclamation that has taken place over recent years to create the new town.
From the Rock one is rewarded with spectacular views across the Straits of Gibraltar all the way to North Africa. It is an amazing sight to see how close Africa from here with one of the busiest water ways in the world being right in between.
Whilst most people go to Gibraltar and have the idea that they will look across at Africa, don't forgt to take a look back at Spain too!
As Spain is much closer, you can get much clearer views of it, and when you get the light shining in the right place, the water will glisten almost the whole way.
This picture shows a typical view when the water is shining brightly. The contrast in the view is so high, that it almost appears to be a black and white image, even if I was using colour film!
Gibraltar sits at the narrowest part of the entrance into the Meditteranian Sea. This narrow entrance is known as the Straits of Gibraltar. The other side of the Straits of Gibraltar is Africa.
On a good clear day from the top of the Rock, it is possible to see Africa which from memory I think is about 10 miles away.
The picture here shows me standing on the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, with Africa clearly seen to the right of my head (although it does appear quite a long way in the distance!).
Being a very barren rock has several disadvantages. A pretty serious one is where do you get your water from. Gibraltar has solved this is a pretty novel way (well novel to me at any rate!)
They have built a slope against the almost uninhabited side of the rock, which catches any rain water that falls, and then lets it run down into gulleys at the bottom so that it can be collected and used later.
From the top you can lean over and see this big water catchment area, which it is unlikely that you will see anywhere else.
It was held by the Spanish until beginning of 18th century, when it became under the control of an Anglo/Dutch force and under a treaty became known as the "Crown of Great Britain". In fact Gibraltar is celebrating 300 years of British rule this year.
You can just about make out the lights in Casement Square 1704-2004