A December 2002 trip
to Gibraltar by jaebirdypie
Quote: Despite its tiny size, Gibraltar (the only colony in Europe) is packed with many sights and wonders.
Attraction | "Apes' Den"
The Apes' Den is home to Gibraltar's Barbary Apes which is a breed native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Legend states that the British will hold Gibraltar only as long as the apes remain. With their small size, cinnamon colored fur and non-existent tails, they are just about the cutest apes anyone has ever seen. They roam about freely upon the Rock like squirrels, but mostly stick close to their den. The abundance of the bitter oranges everyone fears eating never goes to waste. The apes consider them a fine delicacy -- rind and all.
As adorable as these little guys are, you do have to be careful not to get too close. They are in no way mean or vicious, but they are VERY curious! They can easily scratch while "inspecting" and have been known to bite when frightened.I actually got to see the apes' curious nature first hand as a bunch of them crowded at the feet of a fellow tourist while another scrambled up her back. The poor woman stood there frozen and bug-eyed while the little ape perched atop her shoulders inspecting her long, brown hair. Fortunately, the only injury she sustained was a rumpled mass of curls!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 5, 2003
Attraction | "Saint Michael's Cave"
During World War II, Gibraltar served as a key strategical point for the Allied Forces. These caves were made ready to give sanctuary as a bomb-proof military hospital although they were never used. While blasting out a new entrance during the preparation, a further series of caves were discovered--complete with a small lake. It is essential not to wear sneakers or any shoe with a rubbery bottom. The stone stairs are very slippery in spots because of the natural water flow!
Today, the caves have a much more peaceful purpose than that of a would-be wartime trauma unit. Classical concerts, drama and ballet productions are performed here. The stage, with its dramatic lighting and cozy theater seats, makes a serene setting for any fine arts show.
Upper Rock Nature Reserve/St. Michael's Cave
Rock of Gibraltar
Attraction | "The Moorish Castle"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 5, 2003
The Moorish Castle Complex (The Tower of Homage and The Gate House)
During the Great Siege, the tunnels and the men stationed within operated very much like a small independent village able to forge their own weapons and store food. There were, however, many problems with that. As time wore on, the optimistic plans of victory dwindled to a vicious struggle for survival. A soldier's rations became quite sparse to say the least. What was given as a month's worth of food was really only enough to feed a man for one day. Fighting a brutal war against their attackers, hunger and at times each other, the British were resillient and kept control of the Rock. It was, however, a very costly victory. Many, many British soldiers starved to death during the four year battle.
There are many strategic lookout points armed with cannons throughout the tunnels. Hand sculpted wax figures depict each aspect of underground life during the Great Seige, including the difficult job of manning these guns. The life-sized statues are created, dressed and maintained by the Gibraltarian people.
The Great Siege Tunnels
The length of the tour depends on the travelers, really. You may choose to skip some sites or only explore part of the way. The minivan guides do not escort the party through each site, but will give a brief history on the way. The sites are well documented with wall plaques explaining each item of interest in full detail. With a little bit of pre-trip study and patience, a visitor can leave Gibraltar very well educated in its fine history. I strongly suggest this tour if you are pressed for time, looking for a general overview, or do not wish to take the athletic stair/hiking route.
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