Top of the Rock of Gibraltar
St Michael's Caves, Barbary Apes Tours
Top Rock tours of Gibraltar: Well, not to the very tip top of the Rock, but as high as you can go, to see the apes and the views and the caves inside -- usually begin just after you cross the border with Spain (see Gibraltar town page). Day trippers tour buses from the Algarve in Portugal park in Spain and walk across the border. Present your passport to Gibraltar customs,. Gibraltar tour vans, cabs are near here.
St. Michael's Caves: Tours to the Top may include walking tours into St Michael's Caves.
Rock of Gibraltar a Pillar of Hercules
En route to the top of the rock, the entrance drive is marked by this monument. Walk around the monument to the patio area that offers views across the Strait of Gibraltar.
The first visitors to Gibraltar came in the 8th Century BC, and it's been a steady stream ever since then.
It was near noon when this photo was taken, and the sun was trying valiantly to do its work and burn off the fog.
Gibraltar tours go in a clockwise direction around the base of the Rock.
The road runs along the eastern coast past several lovely resort hotels to the entrance for the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
The road into the reserve is very steep the higher it climbs, with many turns upon itself. Long vehicles often have to stop and manouevre in a series of 3-point to 5-point turns.
Another Pillar of Hercules Across the Strait in Africa
Across the Strait lies the other Pillar of Hercules, rising in Tangiers. All that's visible in this shot through n the morning mists is the tip.
The view is from behind the monument in the above photo.
The ferry crossing from Algeciras, Andalusia, Spain (just a few kilometres west of here) to Tangiers takes about three hours.
The Straits of Gibraltar joins the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, creating a good catch for fishermen, with Conger, an eel-like fish, and 14 species of bream.
The Upper Rock Views of Gibraltar
Apes and tourists share this small lookout area at the top of the Rock just before the road heads back down the mountain.
This is as high as most can go: The very tip, shown in the photo, is called O'Hara's Battery, and is reserved for the military.
You can see in these pictures how the sun comes out, then disappears again.
Gibraltar's famous Barbary apes (macaques)
About two dozen apes (Barbary macaques) live on the Upper Rock.
They are just one of five free-roaming colonies totalling about 250 apes.
Legend has it that as long as the apes inhabit Gibraltar, it will remain British.
They've been here now for just over 300 years.
Gibraltar Harbour A Long Way Down From the Top!
Though tourists are cautioned against getting too close to the apes, there're always those who choose to ignore good advice.
Though the apes generally keep to themselves, if provoked, they can and do bite.
This view is looking west northwest, over the town of Gibraltar and into Spain, near Algecira (where you can take the ferry to Tangiers, Morocco, in Africa.)
There are three-day excursions from the Algarve in Portugal to Algeciras (day 1), across to Tangiers and back (day 2), then returning to Portugal (day 3).
Monument Gibraltar Upper Rock Can Be Crowded
The top of this cairn and lookout on the Upper Rock is accessed by stairs.
There's not much room on the roof, so tourists can get quite pushy trying to claim a spot.
There is no parking up here, other than on the road.
Most visitors stop here for about 20 minutes, so those behind them in line may take their places.
Gibraltar's 'Lion' profile Always Changing
This view of the Rock of Gibraltar, seen from the lower town, shows how the Rock got its 'lion' name.
The first description of Gibraltar comes from a Roman geographer.
The Moors took possession from 1462 until the beginning of the 18th Century, and dominated Gibraltar for over 7 centuries, then Spain.
In 1805, the Battle of Trafalgar took place near here; sovereignty issues between Spain and England continue to surface from time to time.
Great Siege Tunnels Reminders of History and War
The Great Sieges of the late 18th Century precipitated the construction of an extensive tunnel network some 32 miles (51 kms) long.
During the Second World War, more tunnels were added.
They were slanted downward to accommodate the firing angle of a prototype of the first downward firing guns.
Most tunnels are inaccessible to the public, but at the base, there's an exhibit, City Under Siege, that shows the conditions the men faced at that time.
The gun placement and lookout holes are seen on the face closest to Spain and the border, north-northeast.
From Bill Z., Kenora, Ontario, Canada:
"The scariest thing I remember was landing on the tarmack with both ends of the runway ending in the water. We stayed overnight at the RAF [Royal Air Force] station, scrubbed our teeth with salt water and ate British food. Fresh water was a premium as it was collected in large reservoirs inside the Rock.
"Of course we visited the bars on both the American and British sides. In one of the bars, an English sailor attempted to [fondle] one of the Spanish dancers, and she kicked him on the side of the head without missing a step. The poor sailor was knocked out cold. Quite funny. Thanks for jogging my memory!"
St. Michael's Cave in the Heart of Rock of Gibraltar
This natural grotto is an auditorium that can seat 400 for concerts.
A cross section piece shows how a stalagmite is formed.
There's an optional tour of Lower St. Michael's Cave (groups of 5-10 only, no children under 10) that takes about three hours and involves some rope climbing.
Your reward is a spectacular view of the cave and an underground lake.
St Michael's Cave vignette Remembers the Visigoths
Early Rock inhabitants (perhaps Visigoths) in St. Michael's Cave illustrate that these caves were man's first home on the Rock.
In 1848, an ancient female skull was discovered in Forbe's Quarry, at the foot of the north face, 8 years before Neanderthal Man was discovered near Dusseldorf.
Gibraltar is just one of those glorious places on this planet (the Great Wall of China is another) that you've heard about all your life.
When you finally stand at the top of the rock, and gaze all around you, you think, "Wow! I'm actually ON the Rock of Gibraltar!!"