Why are these facts so awesome? Well, probably because you don’t know anything about Gibraltar to begin with! So tune in for some sweet history, photos, and travel tips from Nothing Familiar!
1. Straight of Gibraltar
The straight of Gibraltar may be even more famous than the actual city itself! The body of water carries an immense historical importance in the world, that even holds weight in today’s society. Not only does the straight act as a passageway from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean, but its close proximity to Africa only magnifies the nine miles of water in between.
2. A British Territory
Now you’d think Gibraltar would be a part of Spain by looking at a map… However, it’s actually a British Oversees territory! Following the ceding of Gibraltar to the English Crown in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, Spain unsuccesfully attempted to regain control in three separate battles. British control of the region would forever change the culture and course of history in this little corner of the world.
3. The Rock
The Rock is the unchallenged centerpiece, and the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Gibraltar. At almost 1,400 feet high, it towers over the city and the vast ocean underneath. The rock of Gibraltar holds many amazing attractions which I will feature on this list, including a beautiful nature reserve which covers most of its upper area.
Over 300 Barbary Macaque monkeys call the rock of Gibraltar home, and it’s very exciting to see them in their natural habitat. If you’re planning on taking a hike up the rock, keep a look out for these crazy creatures on the walls and roads. The higher you climb (especially into the nature reserve), the more monkeys you will see. Do not feed, or try and pet the monkeys! They are big, aggressive, and they will bite. The hospital of Gibraltar is one place you don’t want to visit!
Gibraltar has a rich history, and forever holds a spot in Greek mythology with one of its greatest heroes. In Latin, it is famously referred to as Calpe, and acts as one of the pillars of Hercules. For the Greeks, Gibraltar marked the end of the Mediterranean coast line, which to them also symbolized the end of the world!
6. Europa Point
Europa Point is one of the many impressive lookouts of Gibraltar, and the point in which the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans meet. As if this wasn’t cool enough, on a clear day you can even see the Moroccan Coast of Africa!
Speaking of Africa, since you’re so close you might as well go step foot on another continent, right? Only a half hour ferry ride away lies the city of Tangiers, Morocco. Day trips can easily be arranged in town, and even include tours in the price!
Gibraltar is home to 30,000 residents proud to call themselves part of the United Kingdom. In fact, their have been two separate votes in both 1967 and 2002, where both times the people of Gibraltar rejected a referendum to put them under Spanish governance. The latter of which, resulted in an overwhelming 98% of Gibraltarians voting to stay under British sovereignty. Cheers!
As a British territory, English is the official language of Gibraltar. However, with Spain right across the border, there is plenty of Spanish spoken as well. There is even a local language unique to Gibraltar called Llanito, which is a combination of English, Spanish, Maltese, Portuguese, and even some Italian mixed in!
The food in Gibraltar is every bit as diverse as the language. While you can expect to eat your fair share of fish and chips and other English specialties, you’ll also find tapas, kebabs, and a delicious selection of African food, too!
11. Great Siege Tunnels
The Great Siege was an attempt by Spain and France to capture the territory of Gibraltar during the American Revolutionary War. As the story goes, in order to get the cannons within firing range of the attacking enemies, the British came up with the idea of digging into the limestone rock. What resulted, was a start to one of the most impressive labyrinth of tunnels known to man, and was a vital part in defending Gibraltar. The tunnels were again used by the Allies during World War II, and actually expanded from 7 to 25 miles in length!
Due to lenient tax regulations of the early 2000’s, Gibraltar has been a popular home for bookmakers and online gaming companies. Although present day taxes have increased, many big players in the gambling industry still call Gibraltar home, and it remains a large part of the economy.
13. St. Michael’s Cave
Of the over 150 caves inside the rock of Gibraltar, St. Michaels Cave is the biggest and most impessive of all. Sitting high in the nature reserve, it dates all the way back to the Neolithic time period, and onlookers have been writing of its beauty since 45 AD! St. Michaels Cave is visited by over 1 Million people per year, and a must see on any trip to Gibraltar.
14. Gibraltar International Airport
Surpisingly high on our list of cool and unique things about Gibraltar is the International Airport! As soon as you get over the border from Spain you will actually have to CROSS the airport runway to get into the city. Depending on your timing, you may even by held up by police officers because a plane is either landing or taking off!
15. Mediterranean steps
Strictly for the adventurous, making the trek up the Mediterranean steps is the best way to see the rock of Gibraltar. Aside from the incredible views of the city and ocean below, the hike is something of a spectacle in itself. Along the steps, you’ll have the pleasure of seeing some 500 species of plants, hundreds of birds, and other intriguing animals that call Gibraltar home. However, be warned. The hike is strenuously steep, and most visitors prefer to take the cable car at least one way up or down.
16. World War II
As you now know, Gibraltar has always been a place of high military importance. So much so that during World War II, it was one of the most heavily defended naval ports in Europe. Due to its vital position, the British controlled nearly all ships coming from the Mediterranean Sea into the Altlantic Ocean. To make room for the massive military operations (and for the safety of the civilians), more than half of Gibraltars population was evacuated at the beginning of the war!
While not necessarily known for its beaches, Gibraltar has six amazing spots enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. With its pleasant sub-tropical climate and beautiful backdrop, the beaches are a perfect place to cool down on a hot day. Check out Catalan and Sandy Bay, or the Eastern/Western beaches to take a dip. Oh, and make sure to keep an eye out for the Dolphins!
If you LOVE Nothing Familiar, make sure to Subscribe Here for more awesome tips, photos, and travel lists!