Gibraltar, the Mighty Rock

Gibraltar, also known as the Rock, is one of fourteen British Overseas Territories, and is located on the southern Iberian Coast, along the Straight of Gibraltar. Its location at the southern tip of Europe, where the Atlantic ends and the Mediterranean begins, is only 13 km (8 miles) from the northern tip of Africa.

A British territory since 1713, Gibraltar has the unique distinction of having the only airport runway in the world that is also a highway. It closes like a train crossing, when planes take off and land.

Photo curtesy of iStock.

It is the home of the only Barbary macaque colony in Europe. They are quite tame and do not seem to be the least bit bothered by the curious people who flock around them. We were enjoying this breathtaking view when we heard a ruckus and turned to see two macaques having a disagreement. One chased the other up a steep hillside, and both came scurrying down and ran past, just a few feet from us. That was a little too close for comfort.

After WWII, the population dwindled to less than ten, but Winston Churchill came to the rescue and had additional ones brought over from North Africa. They are protected, vaccinated, and bothering them in anyway can result in a £2,500.00 fine.

Just hanging out.

Our taxi driver warned us not to touch them, and said that it is not uncommon for drivers to quickly change course, and rush someone to the hospital because they didn’t heed the warning, and received a bite. Ironically, just minutes after being warned, as we got out of the taxi to enjoy the view, we saw a woman reaching out to touch a mom and her little one; many people called out to her just before she touched the baby; whew! Our driver also said if it is determined that the warning was not given, drivers can lose their license; there’s no monkeying around about this!

Europa Point and Lighthouse is an interesting place to visit. The lighthouse, built in 1841, is situated where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet. Here you’ll also find Harding’s Battery, Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, and beautiful views.

St. Michael’s Cave is another interesting place to visit. Located in the Upper Rock Nature Preserve, it is believed that the Archangel Michael once appeared here.

The cave is illuminated with colorful lights that enhance the stalactites and stalagmites, and music befitting a cathedral is played to create a reverent, thoughtful setting.

It also has a theater that seats 600 guests. The cave is very popular and receives over one million visitors per year.

At some point in time it was thought that the cave was bottomless and that the macaques came to the Rock through an underground passageway; I think Churchill might have taken issue with this theory! As a side note, there are over 34 miles of tunnels in the Rock, mostly dug by the British Army, for storage and protective purposes.

As usual, I enjoyed wandering and taking photos.

Have you been to Gibraltar? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. We thoroughly enjoyed our short visit to the Rock, and hope to visit again someday.

Wishing you grand adventures,


28 thoughts on “Gibraltar, the Mighty Rock

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  1. Fascinating! What contrasting photo stories–from pesky monkeys to a stunningly and beautifully Illuminated cave (which I have not visited). Some of your monkey pix were so fun; one posed as if for a high school senior photo! We have visited Gibraltar, but passed on the cave for the dolphin boat excursion. What fabulous pictures, memories, and stories–and that’s why we travel!

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  2. What a crazy runway, seems to be asking for a disaster if you ask me! They really take their monkeys seriously on Gibraltar, but why do people think they should/can touch a wild animal. The lighting in the cave is gorgeous. Maggie

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  3. Don’t mess with the monkeys should be posted all over the place with such penalties. Sometimes I just don’t understand people’s thought of touching a wild animal. It’s like at Yellowstone when you inevitably see someone try to pet a buffalo. Just because they are in a protected area does not make them tame *face palm*. The caves with the lights are stunning! I actually just had a student from Gibraltar in my office the other day so it was fun to then read your post about it 🙂

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  4. After reading a few articles about Gibraltar (including yours), I’m interested in potentially heading out there some day: given its geography near Spain and Morocco, yet being a British territory, it’s a very fascinating spot to experience a different side to what we consider stereotypically “British.” I would be a bit afraid of the macaques, even if they’re tame– especially if I have food, I don’t want them near me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you get to visit someday, it’s a lovely place. I was a bit on edge with the macaques so close. At one point, one grabbed some food out of someone’s hand and scurried away. That got everyone’s attention. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to see and read about your perspective of Gibraltar, Tricia. So many familiar sights and you got to see a bit more of the caves than I did. Some decent monkey shots too, they were similarly disinterested in me when I was there but I’ve heard some nightmare stories online from people who got too comfortable around them.

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    1. I would like to return someday and see more of the caves and the surrounding area, our visit was too short. I was pretty shocked to see how close some people got to the monkeys. I imagine the medical staff at the hospital get really tired of treating monkey bites. Thanks Leighton, I always appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I did visit Gibraltar on a day trip from Spain when I was there for a school trip in high school. So, like a billion years ago. I remember the macaques, but didn’t know about the cave system. I also hadn’t realized about the runway. WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I understand the monkeys can hassle the tourists quite a lot if they get too close, so better safe than sorry! What a cool cave, the lights and the music make it more magical.
    Happy travels, Tricia!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve never been to Gibraltar but it does look beautiful! I think I would have been a bit intimidated by the macaques roaming around freely though! That cave/theatre also looks amazing, I can’t imagine how impressive a show there must be! Thanks for taking us along!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my goodness, Gibraltar looks amazing. When I go, I’m going to walk miles and miles in those spectacular caves, race my rental car down the airport runway, and give a Barbary macaque a full body hug and big fat kiss. (Only kidding about the monkey thing. Everything else I want to do.) Thank you for this wonderful post, Travels Through My Lens. You are bringing the word to my doorstep (errr… computer screen). Thank you. You are a delight to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember landing on that runway took 4 attempts round and I just gripped the seat and hoped for the best hehe. It’s lovely….you really have been exploring Europe since moving over here, you’re always jetting off and I love it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I found this post about Gibraltar absolutely fascinating! It’s amazing to think that there’s a place in the world where an airport runway doubles as a highway. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Gibraltar is home to the only Barbary macaque colony in Europe. I’ve always been fascinated by primates, and it’s interesting to hear that these macaques are quite tame and unbothered by human presence.

    I’m curious, though, about the history of Gibraltar as a British Overseas Territory. How did it come to be under British control, and what is the relationship between Gibraltar and the UK like today? Additionally, I wonder what daily life is like for the people who live in Gibraltar. Are there any unique cultural traditions or practices that are specific to the territory?

    Overall, this was a really interesting post that opened my eyes to a part of the world that I hadn’t thought much about before. I’m excited to learn more about Gibraltar and its place in global politics

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have some good questions. We did learn that many people who work in Gibraltar live in Spain since it’s an expensive place to live. Our visit was too short, but we hope to visit again someday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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