Post by M Andre, photos by M Andre
Last updated 6 October 2017
Note: The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of RetoxMagazine.com
Exploring the Rock could turn out to be a challenging day physically, depending on how much footwork you intend to do. If walking is not your thing and you want to keep the physical activity as light as possible, you can pick up an organised Rock Tour by taxi. Gibraltar’s taxi drivers are experienced guides who have knowledge of Gibraltar’s history, the sites, the legends and the spots for best photos. I hear the average tour lasts about one hour and a half and will cost around £25 per person assuming the car is full, and will include entrance to the Nature Reserve and sites like St Michael’s Cave. However, it is recommended to double check those details to be certain as tours may vary. Booking in advance might also be a good idea to insure availability, or if you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle.
If you want to spend more time exploring the Rock, consider the Cable Car to get to the top. The Cable Car in itself is a fantastic experience. You can get a Cable Car ticket paired with The Nature Reserve ticket to see the tourist attractions. Alternatively, the Nature Reserve ticket (£10 Adult, £5 child) will have to be purchased separately to enter the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and the sites in the Nature Reserve (St Michael’s Cave, Great Siege Tunnels, City Under Siege Exhibition, Moorish Castle, Apes Den, Mediterranean Steps and the old Jewish Cemetery).
To visit the World War II Tunnels (the entrance to which is located inside the Nature Reserve boundaries) you will need to hold a Nature Reserve ticket and also buy a separate ticket for the tunnels themselves. If you don't want to see any of the indoor attractions and just want to enjoy a bit of nature and the fantastic views you can buy a walking ticket to the reserve for 50p.
It is possible to climb the Rock on foot, but that will not be short of a challenge. It is very steep and requires a certain level of fitness, not to mention enthusiasm. If you do decide to endure this journey you can do so by following a hiking trail with stunning views. But for goodness sake, carry a bottle of water with you and avoid the peak of the day during the summer time when it gets unbearably hot.
If you enjoy hiking and want to experience the trails of Gibraltar, an easier option is to use the Cable Car to get to the top of the rock and enjoy the views on your way down as you descend from the rock on foot.
The upper part of the rock is the nature reserve, and an entry ticket must be purchased to enter the reserve. Entry tickets to Upper Rock Nature Reserve include admission to St Michael’s Cave, Apes Den (see the Barbary macaques of Gibraltar), The Great Siege Tunnels, City Under Siege Exhibition and the Moorish Castle complex. The ticket will also get you access to the Mediterranean Steps and the old Jewish Cemetery, as well as the 100 Ton Gun located outside the Nature Reserve.
Tickets: Adult (13+ yrs) tickets cost £10.00, child (5-12 yrs) £5.00, infants (0-4 yrs) free.
World War II Tunnels are located in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, however an additional ticket will need to be purchased to enter the tunnels.
The upper Rock is home to 600 plant species and is superb for bird watching or to simply enjoy the breathtaking views. If you don't want to see any of the indoor attractions and just want to enjoy a bit of nature and the fantastic views you can buy a walking ticket to the reserve for 50p.
There are three ways to enter the reserve - you can enter via Jews Gate, Moorish Castle or Cable Car. The cable car is a great experience and a lot of fun. The cable car ticket allows you to wander freely around the reserve visiting the Apes Den, Skywalk and the Windsor suspension bridge. However, you will need to purchase a separate Nature Reserve Ticket to enter into any of the attractions such as St Michael’s cave or the City Under Siege. For more information, including ticket prices, visit here.
Located within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, at a height of over 300 metres above sea level, is the beautiful, prehistoric cave formed over millions of years. Once home to Neolithic inhabitants of the Rock, St Michael’s Cave is associated with intriguing stories and myths and has a diverse past. The network of limestone caves has deeply descending chambers and features spectacular rock formations, including lots of impressive stalagmites and stalactites.
The parts of the cave that are open to tourists are beautifully lit, although perhaps slightly excessive on the colourful lighting. Whatever your lighting preference, the cave certainly makes a great learning, discovery and photo opportunity.
The Cave Cathedral is open to visitors and is sometimes used as an auditorium for various performances.
The cave is about 25 minutes' walk south down St Michael's Rd from the top cable-car station, or up from Apes Den.
St Michael's Cave in Gibraltar
St Michael's Cave has an auditorium used for events. Listening to a performance in the cave must be an incredible experience.
This is the same auditorium in St Michael's Cave as previously pictured above. However this one is enjoying a different atmosphere under the green lighting. The lighting in St Michael's cave keeps on changing resulting in some interesting and very colourful pictures of the cave!
Spectacular rock formations in St Michaels Cave, Gibraltar.
There is a labyrinth of steps, passageways and viewing balconies in St Michael's Cave making it easy to explore the cave for the whole family.
Rock formations in St Michael's Cave, Gibraltar
To explore the cave system further you can book a guided adventure into the lower cave area. You can ask the tourist office to recommend Lower St Michael’s Cave Tour guides. Keep in mind that for this tour you will need appropriate footwear. Also, children must be over 10 years of age to be able to take part.
On the rock you’ll have the opportunity to meet Gibraltar’s famous tailless Barbary macaques. Their favourite hangouts appear to be around the top cable-car station, the Apes’ Den (near the middle cable-car station) and the Great Siege Tunnels. You can also sometimes spot them outside of St Michael's Cave. During the summer you might see the babies, but keep some distance not to upset the parents, and it's also nice to respect the apes’ personal space.
One of many apes in Gibraltar.
More of gorgeous apes in Gibraltar, this is probably a family. The cute baby ape looks a bit bored.
Hewn out by hand by the British in the 18th century, during the 1779–83 siege, The Great Siege Tunnels is an impressive manmade labyrinth of tunnels devised to serve as a defense system.
During the Second World War some further 33 miles of tunnels were added.
There you will experience the tunnels, see an original 18th century cannon, as well as a Victorian 64-pound cannon and other Victorian guns dating back to 1850.
Expect to walk a portion of the tunnels, see cannons, mannequins, excellent signage and great views, but keep an eye out for the sentry standing in the shadows of a side tunnel. People have claimed that his "Halt who goes there!" shout made them wet their pants.
In addition to the cultural and learning experience it’s actually quite refreshing to go into the tunnels and cool down on a hot summer’s day.
On Willis’ Rd headed down towards the town from the northern end of the Rock lie the remains of the Moorish Castle. The Moorish Castle Complex includes The Tower of Homage and The Gate House.
The castle was rebuilt in 1333 after being won back from the Spanish.
The Moorish Castle in Gibraltar flies the Union Jack
This is what's left of the bath houses in the Moorish Castle in Gibraltar.
Windy steep stairs inside the Moorish Castle tower in Gibraltar.
Fantastic views of Gibraltar from the rooftop of The Moorish Castle. In the distance you can also see Gibraltar's airport runway surrounded by water.
A historical building photographed near the Moorish Castle in Gibraltar.
Castle Steps surrounded by heart-warming quirky buildings of the old town in Gibraltar. Castle Steps lead to and from The Moorish Castle on the rock.
Castle Steps in Gibraltar can get a bit narrow, but none the less surrounded by buildings of character and great scenery. Among many other quarks, unusual buildings and oddly placed stairways can be found in the old town and along the route of the castle steps.
A unique house full of character house on Castle Steps in the old town of Gibraltar.
Quirky narrow alleyways in the old town of Gibraltar.
Came across what appears to be castle remains, presumably what's left of the old infrastructure in Gibraltar.
Buildings painted in calm shades of orange in the old town of Gibraltar.
Another cosy-looking quirky little house on Castle Steps in Gibraltar.
An stunning old street in Gibraltar. Nicely coloured buildings!
Pedestrian steps in Gibraltar, somewhere near Castle Road.
Queen Charlottes Battery, Gibraltar.
Gibraltar has many scenic paths and walkways. In this picture you can see one of its many pathways as well as the cable for the cable cars to and from the top of the rock.
Devil's Gap Battery facing the Bay of Gibraltar.
Vantage point, Gibraltar rock.
Vantage point, Gibraltar rock. There are many great viewing points on the Gibraltar rock that are worth stopping at just to soak in the scenery.
Devil's Gap Footpath in Gibraltar is an exciting hiking trail with superb views.
Devil's Gap Footpath information board on displayed for visitors.
Sensational views along Devils Gap Footpath, Gibraltar. This walk has greatly contributed to overcoming my fear of heights.
The Gibraltar rock pictured at night from our apartment balcony. The building you might just about be able to see in the distance, the one covered in the bright pink lighting, is actually the Moorish Castle!
We accidentally discovered a Maida Vale in Gibraltar. Having hung out in London's Maida Vale regularly, it was somewhat of a pleasant surprise to see another Maida Vaile in Gibraltar.
Public sun loungers spotted at the bottom of a block of flats in Gibraltar. The sun loungers were placed in a publically accessible ungated area, so presumably anyone could use them, much alike any public bench. Now that's a great idea!
American World War One Naval Monument Gibraltar.
Going back to the area where all the restaurants are - on and around the main square, the food choice is diverse. There's plenty of seafood and a seafood Paella seemed like a good dinner choice after a long day.
After a long day of sightseeing there's nothing better than a solid dinner - a good seafood dinner in Gibraltar was a great choice.
Slow Serpents road sign spotted on the rock in Gibraltar.
Danger Rockfalls road sign displayed on a fence restricting access to the road.
From Gibraltar you can walk to Spain, and there are signs in place to help you get your bearings. This sign in particular is one of my personal favourite signs spotted in Gibraltar, which can be seen within close vicinity of the boarder crossing to Spain. While the arrow of the sign points towards the direction of Spain, the man in the picture appears to suggest to walk the other way. Now you know what to do.
The suspended Windsor Bridge in Upper Rock Nature Reserve in Gibraltar is certainly not for the light hearted. If you have a fear of heights you will find this a great challenge. See if you can cross it.
The view from Gibraltar International Airport's landside viewing terrace.
People awaiting their plane on the landside viewing terrace at Gibraltar International Airport.
Passengers disembarking plane at Gibraltar International Airport, as could be seen from the airports outdoor viewing terrace.
The design and construction company that had also carried out the construction of the suspension bridge at the Upper Rock Nature Reserve have been contracted by the Government of Gibraltar to design and build yet another great challenge for the height fearing visitors.
Bovis-Koala JV are to design and build a 360 degree viewing platform with a transparent glass walkway. Positioned pretty much on the top of the rock, walking the glass walkway could prove to be a nerving yet a hugely exciting experience. Are you brave enough to walk the walk?
In July 2017 Gibraltar Chronicle reported, "Work is nearing completion on the Skywalk glass platform at the top of the Rock that will offer tourists breath-taking, vertiginous views but has proved a challenge to build." And that "The government department that manages the Upper Rock Nature Reserve has yet to set a date for the formal opening of the attraction."
The chronicle further reports that "The project took longer to complete than foreseen because all the glass panels that were originally installed had to be replaced."
But fear not as "The panels were not faulty from a safety aspect but when it rained water-seeped in-between the glass layers, making them cloudy in appearance."