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Rock of Gibraltar

Places to Visit - Gibraltar

Gibraltar - The Rock of Gibraltar is located at the entrance of the Mediterranean. Its strategic location and history have made it an international symbol of solidity and strength. The subject of repeated conquest and sieges, Gibraltar has been a British Territory since 1704. Ceded forever to Britain by Spain in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Gibraltar joined the EU in 1973, under the British Treaty of Accession.

Gibraltar is a member of the European Union by virtue of Britain's membership. However, it is outside the Customs Union so travellers from EU member states can still enjoy duty free purchases now banned to travellers within the EU.

In recent years the locally elected Government has created a solid economy. In a modern Europe, this has its base in offshore finance, shipping, tourism and the Internet rather than the military past. There is, however, much of that for the tourist to see. The country is inhabited by around 30,000 people made up of Gibraltarians, British, Moroccans, Indians and Spanish. There is also a colony of the famous apes, the only ones in Europe to run free in a semi-wild state.

The airport has daily scheduled flights to and from Gatwick and Luton in the UK, flights to and from Madrid started last month. If travelling by car, during the more popular visitor months, queues at the border may make it less time-consuming to park in La Línea and walk across. The land border is open 24 hours a day, though expect delays when planes are landing - the only road into Gibraltar runs right across the airport runway!

If you take the walking option across the border, there are buses every 15 minutes to the centre of Gibraltar and Europa Point, or it's only about another 10 minutes walk (across the runway and through a tunnel under the city walls) to the main Casemates Square. The best way to see Gibraltar is with your own personal guide, someone who knows the history, the flora, the fauna and the legends of the rock. One such individual is the local taxi driver who is fully informed on all local matters, past and present, someone who will take you on an ‘Official Rock Tour’. These cost about £7.00 per person plus entrance charges to the St Michael’s Caves or to the Great Siege Tunnels. You will find start points at any of the numerous taxi stands around Gibraltar and the tours usually take a couple of hours. Your first stop will be Jew's Gate, where the Continents of Africa and Europe can be captured on film offering some spectacular views.

This is where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Sea. Three hundred metres above sea level is St. Michael's Cave, a natural grotto known to man since prehistoric times followed by a visit to the Barbary Apes. The next stop takes you further back in time to the late 1700's when the first excavations of The Great Siege Tunnels began. Older still is the Moorish Castle, which has its origins in the early part of the 14th century. As you drive out of the Nature Reserve you will see the last remaining tower of the Castle, the Tower of Homage.

On the EAST SIDE are Gibraltar's beautiful beaches. Here too you will find the Water Catchments. The rock face on this side hides some of the Rock's most impressive features. You will end your tour anywhere in the Town Centre. From the Trafalgar Cemetery or Casemates Square from where you can walk into Main Street or the many narrow picturesque back streets to enjoy a little shopping. There are many shops and boutiques. Remember, Gibraltar is VAT free. If you prefer, end your tour at the Gibraltar Museum and go back 200 million years.

Choose any period in history and then find it on the Rock. The people who know will drive you there.

This interesting article on Gibraltar was provided by kind permission of the Leader newspaper one of the leading local newspapers on the Costa Blanca, Spain.

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