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Gibraltar

Main attractions

The Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar - a true wonderland, criscrossed with secret tunnels, also the last refuge of Neanderthals / Mark Freeth, / CC BY 2.0

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory.

This peninsula is very interesting! Many know that Brits over the centuries have turned this cliff into fortress but few realize that total length of underground passages here is 55 kilometres! This means - the small peninsula is criscrossed with subterranean passages, many of them - secret.

But 24 thousand years ago this was the last refuge of the "other" humans - Neanderthals. They lived here and even created works of art.

Caves

Entrance in Vanguard Cave, Gibraltar
Entrance in Vanguard Cave / Gibmetal77, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Caves - last refuges of Neanderthals

  • Bennet's Cave - one of four caves in Gorham's Cave complex. Cave has formed in Jurassic limestone and has a thick layer of sediments which has recorded important information about the natural history in this area 55 - 15 thousand years ago. Here lived also Neanderthals.
  • Boathoist Cave - one of Gibraltar's cave where Neanderthals have lived. This sea cave was prepared as secret escape route during the 2nd World War when it was accessible through a tunnel and could be left with a boat.
  • Devil's Tower Cave - narrow fissure, up to 10 m high and approximately 1 m wide. Cave has served as a settlement of Neanderthals, here in the 1920s was found a skull of some 4 years old Neanderthal child.
  • Forbe's Quarry Cave - cave where the second known Neanderthal skull was found in 1848, eight years before Neanderthals were officially described by Germans. Now the cave is almost destroyed.
  • Gorham's Cave - one of four caves in Gorham's Cave complex. Cave has formed in Jurassic limestone and has 18 m thick layer of sediments which contains very important finds including the latest find of Neanderthals who lived here 60 - 24 thousand years ago, when sea was far away from the cave and area was rich with resources. This is the last known settlement of Neanderthals in the world. Time of their habitation includes an incision of eight lines, made at least 39,000 years ago, most likely made by Neanderthals - oldest known abstract drawing in the world. 23 thousand years ago here started to live modern humans, who left some paintings on the walls of cave. Phoenicians and Carthaginians used this cave as their shrine, leaving offerings here.
  • Hyaena Cave - one of four caves in Gorham's Cave complex. Cave has formed in Jurassic limestone and has a thick layer of sediments which has recorded important information about the natural history in this area 55 - 15 thousand years ago.
  • Ibex Cave - small cave - a hunting station of Neanderthals some 40 thousand years ago. From here they went to hunt for ibexes.
  • Vanguard Cave - one of four caves in Gorham's Cave complex. Cave has formed in Jurassic limestone and has 17 m thick layer of sediments which contains very important finds, including the latest find of Neanderthals who lived here 55 - 28 thousand years ago. Neanderthals here used fire, ate sea food, including seals and dolphins.

Other caves - prehistoric settlements

  • Bray's Cave - cave which contains Bronze Age burials, some in rimstone basins formed by geological processes in the cave. As new burials were needed, the bones of previous deceased ones were removed.
  • Pete's Paradise Cave - beautiful cave with rimstone pools (one of three sites in Gibraltar). This cave has been inhabited in prehistoric times and contained also a burial.
St.Michael's Cave, Gibraltar
St.Michael's Cavez / Allie Caulfield, / CC BY 2.0

Caves - natural landmarks

  • George's Bottom Cave - limestone cave which is very rich with beautiful cave formations including straws, helictites, curtains, cave coral.
  • New St. Michael's Cave - beautiful limestone cave, rich with stalactites and other cave formations and 37 m long lake with crystal clear water.
  • St.Michael's Cave - impressive limestone caves some 300 m above the sea level. This is the most visited of some 150 caves in Gibraltar. In the cave has been found prehistoric painting of an ibex. Cave is rich with stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations. Cave contains an auditorium with more than 100 seats. One part of cave - Leonora's Cave contains a bottomless pit which may be the reason for legend that St.Michael's Cave is connected with Africa under Gibraltar Strait. Popular tourist cave.

Other natural landmarks

Barbary macaques, Gibraltar
Family of Barbary macaques in Gibraltar / boaski, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Rock of Gibraltar - tall cliff, with nearly vertical sides rising up to 411.5 m tall. Rock contains more than 100 caves and is criscrossed by artificial tunnels.
  • Upper Rock - upper side of the Rock of Gibraltar. Site of high scenic beauty and with a high biological diversity. This is the only place in Europe where in nature live wild primates - Barbary macaques.

Historical landmarks

Waterfall from a tunnel from World War II times, Gibraltar
Waterfall from a tunnel from World War II times / Suzan Marle, / CC BY 2.0

Fortifications

  • Charles V Wall - defensive curtain wall, built in 1540. Wall runs up to the crest of the Rock of Gibraltar. Main part is some 280 m long.
  • Moorish Castle - extensive system of medieval fortifications with two outstanding structures - Tower of Homage and the Gate House. This is the only castle in Europe built by Marinid dynasty - Berbers from Morocco. Construction started sometimes around 711 AD. Tower of Homage is the tallest fortification tower of Islamic castles in Iberian peninsula. From this castle started the conquest of Western European lands by Muslims.
  • Tunnels of Gibraltar - system of 55 km long tunnels criscrossing the Rock of Gibraltar. Most were built in the 20th century for defensive purposes and could accomodate up to 16,000 soldiers and their equipment. Oldest passages were built in the late 18th century. System includes also Stay Behind Cave - very secret site where six men would stay if Gibralar would be captured by Nazi army. Construction ended in 1968.
Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
Rock Hotel / rp72, / CC BY 2.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Gibraltar Museum - museum of nature and history in Gibraltar. Part of museum is located in Moorish Baths, built in the 14th century.
  • Rock Hotel - historical hotel building in art Deco style, built in 1932. From the hotel one can overlook Gibraltar Straits. Guest have been looking at military actions from the hotel rooms.
  • The Convent - official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar since 1728. The building was constructed in 1531 as a Franciscan friary. Rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. Site of legends, also about the "Lady in Grey".

List of described attractions

ArrowGorham's CaveCaves, Early human finds, Prehistoric and ancient shrines, Petroglyphs and rock art

Map of Gibraltar

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