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Rock of Gibraltar, Gibraltar


Familiar to most as an adage for strength and permanence, the "Rock of Gibraltar" is a British colony less than three-square miles in area, and one of the most renowned strategic military strong points in the world. The existing ethnic mix of Spaniards, Moors, Arabs and British settlers in the area reflects the diversity of this valuable and eminent crossroad.

Gibraltar provides a fascinating look at a past filled with powerful forces fighting for control of Gebel-Tarik, or Tariq's Rock, from which the name Gibraltar is derived. The surroundings evoke visions of soldiers and epic sieges and sounds of ships and cannon blasts. The ruins provide a glimpse of this earlier period of history -- from the Moor's Castle and Princess Caroline's Battery, to the remnants of the hot-shot furnaces that saved the fort during the Great Siege. During World War II, Gibraltar was a key naval and air base. The tunnel system was expanded during the war and parts of the 30-mile long network can be visited today.

Inside the Rock of Gibraltar is St. Michael's Cave, actually an expansive succession of chambers, once believed to be bottomless. Illuminated stalactites and stalagmites demonstrate the long history here. Once prepared for, but never used as, an emergency hospital during World War II, the largest part of the cave open to the public is now a unique auditorium for concerts, and is called the Cathedral Cave.

Gibraltar is the site of the Ape's Den, home of the famous Barbary Apes. Actually tailless monkeys, the apes roam freely over the slopes of the Rock. According to legend, when the apes disappear from the Rock, so will the British. When their numbers dwindled during World War II, the pack was increased with new members from Morocco. Today they number about sixty.

With St. Bernard as its celebrated patron saint, Gibraltar Town beckons you to visit its main street lined with restaurants and pubs, and stores filled with duty-free shopping. Whether you're at the highest point of 1,396 feet or looking up from sea level, the experience of visiting the Rock of Gibraltar will remain with you for years to come.
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