Day 3. Exploring Gibraltar

We started the day with a visit to the Gibraltar National Museum on Bomb House Lane in the centre of town.  Standard admission is £5 with a combination ticket being available at £8 to include a visit to the Gorham’s Cave complex viewing platform near Europa Point.

Gibraltar National Museum
Gibraltar National Museum

Galleries cover the history of the Rock starting from the Pillars of Hercules, through The Great Siege up to life as it is today.  Of particular interest is the section dedicated to Neanderthal Man.  Two skulls from Gorham’s Cave were among the first Neanderthal remains to be discovered in Europe giving an unprecedented insight into what their lives might have been like.

Models of Neanderthal Man, Gibraltar National Museum
Life size models of Neanderthal Man in the museum

Located in the basement are the remains of a Moorish bath house built around the 14th century which is one of the best preserved in Europe with its hot and cold rooms.

Remains of the Moorish Baths, Gibraltar National Museum
Remains of the Moorish Baths in the basement of the museum

Just outside the museum stands the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, constructed in Moorish Revival style, it’s the Church of England diocese of Gibraltar in Europe.  The cathedral is open to visitors Monday-Saturday between 11.00 -3.00 p.m.

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar
Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar

From there, it was just a short walk to the King’s Bastion Leisure Centre on Line Wall Road.  You might wonder why we had decided to look in there, but this is no ordinary leisure centre as the building is a military fortress that was once used to defend Gibraltar against invading forces during the 18th century.  The historical building has been transformed to include a bowling alley, gym, cinema, bar and café yet retains many of its original features.

King's Bastion Leisure Centre, Gibraltar
Combining old and new architecture in King’s Bastion Leisure Centre
Cafe in the Kings Bastion Leisure Centre, Gibraltar
Cafe in the Kings Bastion Leisure Centre

After enjoying a welcome cup of coffee we strolled through Commonwealth Park, located next to the leisure centre.  For such a small territory Gibraltar has an abundance of green spaces and nestled within the old walls this recently opened park offers a haven of tranquillity in the city centre.

Commonwealth Park, Gibraltar
Commonwealth Park

It was then back to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to visit two more of the attractions there.  The first was to brave a thrill seekers step out onto the Skywalk, a transparent glass viewing platform at the top of the Rock.

The Gibraltar Skywalk
The Skywalk in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve

This stunning lookout point was opened by Luke Skywalker of Star Wars fame (aka Mark Hamill) and we followed in his footsteps daring to walk on the glass floor jutting out 340 metre above sea level.

Standing on the edge of the Gibraltar Skywalk
Standing on the edge of the Skywalk

It’s not at all scary and is perfectly safe with its floor and side panels made of four layers of laminated glass strong enough to withstand the weight of 11 Range Rover vehicles.  Having walked along the viewing platform we were rewarded with some breathtaking views of Gibraltar and across to Morocco and Spain.

A macaque hitching a lift on our wing mirror on the Rock of Gibraltar
A macaque hitching a lift on our wing mirror

A short drive followed to the northern end of the Rock to visit the Great Siege Tunnels, another of the attractions included in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve ticket price.  On our way to the tunnels one of the Rock’s macaque’s decided to hitch a lift on our wing mirror so we drove along very slowly until it decided to jump off.

Entrance to the Great Siege Tunnels, Upper Rock, Gibraltar
Entrance to the Great Siege Tunnels in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve

From standing on a glass ledge looking down on the city below we were now entering the Rock itself.  The Great Siege Tunnels were a secret military base carved out by hand with sledgehammers and gun powder.  Soldiers excavated 36 metres of tunnel in just six weeks to defend Gibraltar.  Between 1779 and 1783 the Rock was under siege with both Spanish and French troops advancing and trying to recapture Gibraltar from the British.

The Great Siege Tunnels, Upper Rock, Gibraltar
Walking through the Great Siege Tunnels

Whilst tunnelling, it was decided that a hole be blasted in the Rock face to improve ventilation and by so doing, it was then realised that a gun could be put in place to bear down on attacking forces.

Guns in position to defend the Great Siege, Gibraltar
Guns in position to defend the Great Siege

The tunnels are surprisingly long and have been beautifully illustrated with figures and information boards.  Part way through, a staircase leads down to a lower level that was used for storing gunpowder.  Viewing the gun ports in the cliff face with the cannons lined up in front of them was very interesting as were the stunning views of the airport runway visible through the holes.

Display of cannons being prepared Great Siege Tunnels, Gibraltar
Display of cannons being prepared in the Great Siege Tunnels
Views of Gibraltar airport from the Great Siege Tunnels, Gibraltar
Views of Gibraltar airport from the Great Siege Tunnels

All this exploring had given us an appetite so we made our way down to Ocean Village to have lunch at the Bridge Bar & Grill, sitting on its covered terrace overlooking the yachts in the marina.

Bridge Bar & Grill, Gibraltar
The Bridge Bar & Grill

It’s an attractive American styled restaurant where we relaxed over drinks and a plate of barbecued chicken nachos, before moving on to our mains of lamb cutlets and piri-piri chicken.  The Bridge has a great atmosphere and friendly service in the heart of the vibrant Ocean Village close to the cruise terminal.

Lunch at The Bridge Bar & Grill, Ocean Village, Gibraltar
Lunch at The Bridge Bar & Grill, Ocean Village

It started to rain just as we were leaving the restaurant but as shopping was our plan for the afternoon, it didn’t really matter.  Grand Casemates Square lies close to Ocean Village and takes its name from the British built Grand Casemates, a casemate and bombproof barracks at the northern end of the square.

Grand Casemates Square, Gibraltar
Grand Casemates Square

This large square, located at the end of Main Street is lined with cafes and restaurants and we popped into the Gibraltar Art Gallery on the square’s upper level displaying works by local artists.  Adjoining the gallery is a gift shop stocked with lovingly made products by local artisans and the perfect place for us to pick up some gifts to take home.

Gibraltar Art Gallery, Grand Casemates Square
Gibraltar Art Gallery in Grand Casemates Square

We then sauntered along Main Street with its mix of household names, Spanish retailers and the occasional Moroccan greengrocer.  It’s a shopper’s paradise with VAT free purchases and bargains to be had, especially on perfume, jewellery and spirits.

Shopping along Main Street, Gibraltar
Shopping along Main Street

On our way back to the hotel, just outside the Southport Gate, lies the Trafalgar Cemetery containing two known graves of the victims of Trafalgar.  Most of the others who perished in this famous battle were buried at sea.

Trafalgar Cemetery, Gibraltar
Trafalgar Cemetery

Rain clouds had disappeared and so we rounded off another wonderful day in Gibraltar by watching the sun set from the seats of our balcony sipping glasses of sparkling wine.

A bottle of fizz on our room balcony of The Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
Ending the day with drinks on the balcony

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49 thoughts on “Day 3. Exploring Gibraltar

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    I’m not sure about the Skywalk…My mind would know it is safe, but my instinct would be if I can see down I shouldn’t step out! I’m really not a thrill seeker. Your posts are reshaping my perception of Gibraltar, I’d thought of it as a day trip to bolt onto a trip to a Spanish resort but there seems to be so much, its definitely a destination in it’s own right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gibraltar is definitely a destination in its own right with so many interesting things to see and do Helen. I thought you might have been stationed there at some point, but obviously not. Hope you fit in a visit when it’s possible.

      Like

    1. It’s surprising to have so many parks for such a small place and they are all so tranquil and pretty. The views from The Rock Hotel balcony are gorgeous too and it was lovely to sit out in the warm evening air to relax with a drink. Thanks for your welcome thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Day 3. Exploring Gibraltar – Sanzid Blog

  3. jasonlikestotravel

    Another wonderful read. The leisure centre looks really interesting, I’ll have to add that on to the list for a future visit. Glad you managed to check out the siege tunnels too, I didn’t go all of the way to the end but found them interesting to wander through and as you said there were some good views of the airport and Spain too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, I do love the architecture of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (fascinating that it’s a cathedral, yet with Moorish influences) and the lit-up cafe in the Kings Bastion Leisure Centre! The Skywalk looks daring and so transparent; it reminds me of the one in the Grand Canyon closer to home. Sounds like Gibraltar definitely exceeded your expectations!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your welcome thoughts Rebecca. Gibraltar certainly exceeded my expectations as there’s an incredible amount of nice things to see and do in such a small space. I visited the Grand Canyon about 20 years ago and hopefully will make a return visit one day!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s hard to believe that those tunnels were built by sledgehammers isn’t it. The Rock is spectacular from any angle and although I’d read lots about it, it’s certainly more impressive to climb up it. Thank you for commenting and hope your weekend goes well. Marion.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Alison for taking an interest in my series of posts on Gibraltar. It’s an amazing little place and somewhere you might like add to your itinerary next time you’re back in Europe. Let’s hope you won’t be waiting too much longer. Take care, Marion.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome Marion
        It’s nice to read about places I’ve never been. I’ve never considered Gibraltar before
        Will have to add it to my list for the very distant future!
        I read yesterday it may not be untill 2022 until we can leave Australia 😫

        Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s great to hear from you Markus and Micah. Gibraltar is an amazing small slice of Britain on the Mediterranean with so many nice things to see and do. Let’s hope that everyone is able to travel again soon and that you might be inspired to visit Gibraltar one day, Marion

      Liked by 2 people

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