Gibraltar | Location, Description, Map, Population, History, & Facts
The Rock, not the UK proper
Have you ever noticed that little piece of land marked with a different color on the map surrounded by Spain? It is Gibraltar, also known as the Rock, a British overseas territory, and a de-facto enclave that has been tied to Britain, in one way or another for centuries.
Known as the Rock thanks to its rocky landscape, Gibraltar guards the gateway to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean. It is unique not only thanks to its political, economic, and geographical features, but also its societal characteristics.
Here you can find the nation referred to as the Gibraltareans, a mixture of people of the Portuguese, Spanish, Jewish and other descents who speak not only English but also their own unique variant of English, known as Llanito, along with Spanish.
But it is not just the people of the land and their own political system, still protected by the British Naval Strength, that make Gibraltar an outstanding case for a geography buff.
An Excellent territory to get married close to Spain's Southern Mediterranean coast
Even though one of the factors why so many people choose to marry in Gibraltar may be the mixture of cultures and the British overseas territory's unique geography, there are other reasons for that.
First, the British overseas territory is a hassle-free place to visit not only for British citizens but also for the citizens of European Union member states.
Then there are some truly cool endemic flora and fauna.
Europe's only wild monkeys and the beautiful flowers of the Mediterranean sea
Gibraltar is home to some unique flora and fauna. For example, you can find here some unique flora specimens, the Gibraltar candytuft, a flower endemic to te Gibraltar and the Mediterranean coast, which has no distinctive fragrance and whose aesthetic appeal lies primarily in the beauty of its petals.
But it is not just that, it is also the region's nonpareil fauna.
For example, it is the only place in Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, where you can find wild monkeys, namely, Barbary macaques.
The reason for that is the insulated positioning of the enclave, which is sheltered by the humongous rock of Gibraltar and is thus protected from predators that might have otherwise threatened the macaques' survival; also a factor is the territory's historic location at the crossroads of the East and West, since the diminutive primates are thought to have been brought from the Atlas Mountains.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, among others, were married in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory
But there may be other reasons why grooms and brides chose Gibraltar to celebrate their weddings. First, there may have been others before who chose the enclave for the pre-nuptial jamboree of their own.
For example, they may be just willing to follow in the footsteps of John Lennon and Yoko Ono: their road to the altar ended in Gibraltar, whose connubial allure may be even enhanced by the pair's 11 years of marriage, which terminated only with the husband's tragic death, when he was shot dead on December 8, 1980.
What country is Gibraltar in?
Populated since the 6th century, when the Moors first settled here, the territory has seen different rulers. But it was the British rule that left the deepest imprint.
The territory was ceded to them under the treaty of Utrecht after the Spanish defeat in the War of Spanish Succession, when the Anglo-Dutch fleet, under the command of Admiral George Rooke, seized the Rock.
Ever since, the territory has been suffused with the spirit of British tradition, blended with the unique Gibraltarian culture, reinforced and kept intact by the fact of this mutually beneficial symbiosis.
The currency of the land is the Gibraltar pound, and the British army and fleet is still stationed in what is usually referred to as the Rock.
What is more, even if matters of local importance are devolved to Gibraltar authorities, it still enjoys the status of an overseas territory, which means it is till formally responsible to the UK government and the Crown, for example, in matters such as foreign affairs and defense, with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, responsible for the local affairs, still appointed by the Governor of Gibraltar, who in their turn is put in place by the British monarch.
It allows for a worry-free travel between the UK and Gibraltar, making it a popular site for visitors from the British Isles, as well as from the rest of the Commonwealth.It is also just a short sail away from North Africa, making the overseas territory a strategic point for the British, a status it proved with its significant contribution to the Allied Victory in the WW2.
It has the southernmost mosque in Europe
But even though Gibraltar is primarily known as a far-off remnant of the British Empire, whose official currency and political system still bears witness to the United Kingdom's global sway, Gibraltar is not at all British in its essence.
Even though it is till dependent on Britain in its foreign affairs and is under the formal rule of the British monarch, it has it own unicameral legislature, Gibraltar parliament, and the majority of its population are Roman Catholic Christians, not Protestants, as is the case with the United Kingdom.
It is a melting pot of different cultures, with Jewish, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic cultural influences blending with other more far-off cultures, such as Indian or other Commonwealth traditions.
The cultural potpourri that Gibraltar is can be traced in the fact that it is here that Europe's Southernmost mosque is situated.
Head to Gibraltar to check out Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, which is Europe's most southern Muslim prayer house, marked by a beautiful white dome and an all-white slender minaret, as a mosque's tower is known.
Gibraltar airport has one of the strangest and most dangerous runways in the world
But not everything about Gibraltar is as beautiful as candytuft or as funny as its endemic wild monkey. It is here that is situated one of the world's most dangerous runways in the world.
The international airport of Gibraltar is a dread for almost any upstart pilot due to the fact that its runway intersects with the Winston Churchill Avenue, the enclave's main road, adjacent to the airport, which makes it necessary to stop off the vehicular traffic at the time the aircraft's landing.
Such a landing arrangement requires cooperation between the local authorities and the air traffic control, the very fact of which draws crowds of tourists, avid for such an unusual spectacle.
Despite its size, it is a stunning cultural and natural destination
Even though puny in comparison with even many other enclaves, see, for example, the vast Kaliningrad enclave, a former German territory now part of the Russian Federation, Gibraltar is a one-of-its-kind cultural destination.
Here you can find a number of nonpareil landmarks such as the following top five culture attractions in Gibraltar.
- Gibraltar Botanical gardens
One of the most beautiful pockets of greenery in Gibraltar, the green space is not just a place to walk around all moon-eyed about the ambient beauty of the place, but it has also become a favored spot for marriages. The gardens are situated just the registry office, and with the special provision by the local authorities you can have your marriage ceremony, all embowered, under the shade of the fragrant trees.
- Moorish Castle
Known as the Tower of Homage, the fortress is perched atop the Rock of Gibraltar, a gargantuan Jurassic limestone promontory, giving onto the scenic Strait of Gibraltar or Gibraltar proper.
- St Michael's Cave
With stalactites and stalagmites hanging down from the roof of the cave, St Michael's Cave is a one-of-its-kind tourist destination for any nature buff.
Head to this network of limestone caves for you to gasp at its pristine, somewhat preternatural, beauty, and if lucky to attend a concert or another that are often held here.
- Great Siege Tunnels
Dug out of the th Rock during the 18th century Siege of Gibraltar, Great Siege Tunnels, also known as Upper Galleries is a vestige of the overseas territory's glorious past.
It bears witness to the resilience and ingenuity of the intrepid defenders of one of the most important outposts of the British nation, and, literally, eternalizes in stone those who fell defending it against the onslaught of the enemy.
Head here to pay tribute to the brave British soldier and to commemorate how drastic a change a time of war can bring both upon the individual and the nature itself.
- Europa Point
Home to the continent's southernmost mosque, and the Trinity Lighthouse, the view point opens up on the gob-smacking vista of the Mediterranean Sea and, if the horizon is clear, even allows a peak into the Coast of North Africa, situated just across the strait, so tantalizingly close.
- Casemates Square
Buzzing with street life, it is the most kinetic spot in whole Gibraltar. As the night downs, the area comes alive, with its many bars and restaurants filling up to capacity. Head here with your significant other for a romantic soiree, and feel free to take delight in the urban chic of Gibraltar, sip on a yummy cocktail and gaze at the magnificent facades of the historical buildings that line the square.
- Gibraltar Museum
Arguably the best spot in Gibraltar to cast a glimpse into the city's rich past, the museum showcases exhibits dating back to as long as the Roman and Phoenician periods of the area's development.
Head here to piece together an accurate picture of the overseas territory's past and even learn the significance of its contribution to the World War Two effort and the feats of bravery achieved by the British fleet to defend one of the ramparts to defend British territory.
- Sandy Isthmus
Since Gibraltar is so tiny, a mere 5k long and 1.2 km, it might easily be just a rocky outcrop of the Iberian Peninsula. Nevertheless, it is a peninsula in its own right itself. It is connected to the Iberian mainland by a narrow sandy isthmus, which makes it one of the main points of interest for geography buffs.
Head here to sense how tenuous is the link between Gibraltar and Spain, whether geographically or politically, since the tiny territory does not fall under Spanish sovereignty, even though the majority of population still speaks Spanish.
It is an overpopulated territory
Even though it is relatively far from the main commercial hubs it is still a destination of choice for not only tourists but also migrants.
Here you can find not only a significant resident Indian population, which may constitute about 2% of the population, but also immigrants from all over the world, including Asia, the Americas and Africa.
It is not just the ethnic make-up that has been evolving over time, it is also the enclave's cultural and, what is the most enticing, gastronomical mix.
For example, you can have oodles of Indian curry at Fern's Masala Grill & Indian Chinese Wok, or tuck into choice Chinese grub at Birdie Cafe, or you can munch on some mouthwatering slices of duck at Heal Dine Asian Cuisine.
All in all, the more diverse the population of Gibraltar becomes the more variety of exotic delicious fare there is for you to choose from.
Gibraltar is a non muslim country, but there is a Muslim community here.
Even though Gibraltar is usually considered a non-muslim country, it has a rich heritage of Islamic tradition. It boasts Europe's southernmost mosque, and even some choice halal establishments, Marrakech Restaurant, al-Madina Take Away, or at Khan's, not to mention the fact that it was first inhabited by Moors, the carriers of Islamic faith, whose influence has fashioned townscapes all over the Iberian Peninsula
Quite a few sterling pieces of accommodation are based there
For sure even though there are many history buffs that make a pilgrimage to this avant-post of the British civilization, there are also a lot of newlyweds that make to Gibraltar to pass their honeymoon, or just lovers who want to sanctify their love with the holy bonds of marriage.
As such, Gibraltar has a lot of choice lodging options to stay for your wedding. Pre-nubial accommodation pieces include but are not limited to the following:
- The Rock Hotel
Offering a gob-smacking of the Rock of Gibraltar, this hotel is a historic building with an all-white facade, and offering a splendid spacious gallery, which is a perfect spot for your wedding and memorable photos, making it one of the best properties in Gibraltar and arguably in Continental Europe to celebrate your wedding and have your most remembrance-worthy day on the Southern Tip of the Old Continent.
- The Sunborn Hotel
The World's first five-star yacht hotel, the Sunborn Marina is a one-of-its-kind property to check into with your significant other for your big day. Celebrate your wedding in the chic ambiance of this non-pareil yacht hotel, and profit from its state-of-the-art facilities.
Here you can find not just a luxurious atmosphere of a veritable floating palace, but also live music events, a bar with delectable cocktails to wash down your bachelor past, among many other things.
- Bristol Hotel
Housed in a historical, beautiful building, Bristol Hotel is a one-of-its-kind property for you and your significant other. Complete with some of the British overseas territory's best facilities such as its amazing swimming pool, Bristol Hotel is a perfect choice for your wedding celebrations and offers the best value for you and your loved ones.
Note that it is also perfect for a family sojourn in Gibraltar.
- Luxury Yacht Hotel
Even though there are many cruise ships that moor in Gibraltar, you can put up on a vessel of your own for either your wedding or honeymoon.
The modern yacht boasts cutting-edge facilities that will make your sojourn with your spouse-to-be as pleasant as possible, with the briny charm of the Mediterranean suffusing all your being, and reminding of the narrow peninsula's rich maritime heritage.
Apart from that, you can take pleasure in the balmy Mediterranean climate lazing about on the deck and sipping on your delicious cocktail.
- Ocean Village Marina Hotel
The property boasts 316 choice residential apartments, over 250 marina berths, and extensive business accommodation for the busines travelers.
But it is not just that, the Ocean Village Marina Hotel is one of the best properties for nuptials on Spain's Southern Mediterranean Coast.
Here you can profit from top-notch facilities for you and your loved one to feel as much at home as possible for the property is really cosy even if it still has an ultra-modern feel to it.
- The Elliot Hotel
Located in the very heart of Gibraltar, this boutique hotel offers a mind-blowing panorama of the Mediterranean Sea, a stunning rooftop terrace, perfect for wedding ceremonies and, what is more a spacious swimming pool, making it one of the best options for the newlyweds.
Gibraltar is connected to Africa
Even though there is a common misperception that Gibraltar is connected to Africa via a tunnel, it is far from truth. As of today, even though the question of such a tunnel's construction is being mooted fairly often, it is still far off from becoming reality.
Instead for you to get to Africa, you can hop on a ferry from Gibraltar to Tangiers in Morocco, which makes it one of the easiest routes to travel from the Southern coast of Spain to North Africa, and then further south deep into the heart of Africa.
Gibraltar is a perfect destination for set-jetting
While Gibraltar is prized by jet-setters, it is also one of the most promising destinations for set-jetters. Set-jetting refers to the activity in which individuals travel to locales described in novels, films, and other works of art to take delight in it in its authentic setting.
Gibraltar is a great destination for that kind of activity thanks to its being featured in a number of both novels and films.
Novels set in Gibraltar
- The Rock
Set against the backdrop of Gibraltar's complex political and military history, the Rock is a veritable page-turner. It is a compelling read looking into a chain of murders that occur on the narrow peninsula.
Written by Robert Daws, an English author, and published in 2012, the thriller is one of the finest pieces of writing to immerse yourself in on your Gibraltar sojourn.
- An Ocean Apart
Partly placed in Gibraltar, the novel explores the lives of two sisters, one residing in Scotland, and the other in Gibraltar. It is a dramatic investigation into the personal struggles of the duo and the persistent strength of family bonds.
Head first to Scotland and then to Gibraltar to take pleasure in this engrossing read.
- The Square Circle
Written by Kieran Fanning, the novel is also located on the Rock. It has all in it, from magic to adventure, featuring three children that find themselves in Gibraltar to face the forces of evil, and imparts to your journey in the territory the eerie feel of the border between the real and unreal being quite fluid.
- The Shadows of Gibraltar
Penned by Tim Robinson, the Shadows of Gibraltar is one of the finest pieces of writing set in the territory.
Unfolding with the World War II as the backdrop, the Shadows of Gibraltar is a story of espionage. The protagonists are the British secret agents, who try to foil the attempts by the Nazi infiltrators to sabotage British Second World War operations and get access to the classified files.
Films set in Gibraltar
- The Living Daylights
One of the series of James Bond movies, The Living Daylights is a movie whose culmination scene takes place on the Rock of Gibraltar. The sequence involves a military convoy and a plane and has become one of the most famous depictions of the narrow peninsula in the film industry, which may have greatly boosted the local economy.
- The Gibraltar Kid
Set in Gibraltar, the movie is a tribute to the insatiable thirst for exploration that the kids find next to impossible to quench. The movie is a story of a boy who, along with his friends, stumbles upon a treasure while exploring the Rock of Gibraltar.
It is one of the best movies to watch in Gibraltar on a family trip, so bring your little ones along and have fun looking for the treasures of your own after watching this engaging film.
Shot by Alison Peebles, this psychological thriller is set in Gibraltar and Scotland. It tells the story of a woman named Vivien, who comes to Gibraltar after the death of her husband.
But once here she starts on a journey into the unknown, being haunted by a complete stranger and memories of the past that won't let her go.
Almost entirely set in Gibraltar, the film offers a look into the life of a financial trader who gets mired in corruption, money-laundering, politics, international intrigue and conspiracies of the highest level. What blight can the Gibraltar Pound visit on the soul of a human...