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Located at the gates to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar fuses local culture with international influences throughout its architecture, cuisine, and traditions. With Upper Rock Nature Reserve as it’s most well known and distinctive tourist attraction, there is no end of outdoor adventures to be had on this bustling peninsula.
Upper Rocks Nature Reserve
Probably the most well known and prominent thing to see in Gibraltar is Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Here you’ll find a wealth of beautiful sights, amazing architecture, incredible wildlife, and many adventures to be had. Because of this, it’s no surprise that most of Gibraltar’s main attractions centre around the reserve. Whilst the reserve is an obvious place for avid hikers to explore, for those still wishing to see the sights from the top of the rock but aren’t quite so keen on walking, a cable car, guided taxis, and bus tours are all available. Upon arriving at the top of the 426m high rock, you’ll be able to see Africa on the horizon, with the gates to the Atlantic and Mediterranean on either side of you. It really is a sight like no other. To access the reserve, you will need to purchase a Gibraltar Nature Reserve and attractions ticket. This allows you to access 16 different sites and activities, including nature trails, the Skywalk, and Ape’s Cave and at £13 per adult, it’s definitely something to put at the top of your essential sights list.
Ape’s Den is another very popular site for tourists to visit and is aptly named due to the 100+ Barbary macaques that reside there. The macaques are not a native species in Gibraltar and it is thought they were imported at some point. However, because it is not clear how this originally came about, legends have formed around the macaques, some believing they came over from their native home of Morocco through a subterranean tunnel starting at St Michael's Cave and leading down underneath the Strait of Gibraltar. Whilst the macaques play a big part of Gibraltar’s tourism, visitors are asked not to touch them. As well as being wild animals that they want to protect, they’re pretty nifty at nicking food from unsuspecting tourists! Access to Ape’s Den is also included within the Nature Reserve ticket.
St. Michael’s Cave
Located just up from Ape’s Den, St. Michael’s cave is an impressive feature of Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Receiving roughly a million visitors a year, this beautiful geological site is part of a network of limestone caves full of stalactites and stalagmites that are illuminated with a series of colourful lights. In the 1960s, the largest chamber was converted into an auditorium seating 100 people and now hosts plays, ballet recitals, and other musical performances due to its stunning acoustics. The cave is also shrouded by legend as it is believed to be the site at which the supposed subterranean tunnel through which the Barbary macaques came. Despite now knowing that the cave isn’t actually bottomless, it is still a myth that continues throughout Gibraltarian folklore.
Gibraltar has a complicated history, full of politics, fusions of culture, and geological curiosities. So, how better to learn all about it than at the Gibraltar Museum. You will be guided right from the very beginning of Gibraltar’s history, through its ancient and medieval times, into its tumultuous times during various wars, and out to current day life. The museum itself has an interesting history having been conceived in the 1800’s, with signs of individuals already collecting artifacts in the 1770s. It was finally founded in the 1930s, had its first curator in 1970, and is now operating under a team of dedicated researchers. With tickets at £5 per adult and £2.50 per child, the museum offers many hours of entertainment learning about the fascinating history of Gibraltar.