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Once one of the two Pillars of Hercules, set up by the mythical hero to mark the edge to the world known to ancient Greek and Romans, Gibraltar is today the little British colony located in the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, where Spain reaches for Africa. Its territory is 5 km long and 1 km wide, and it's linked to Spain by a narrow isthmus at the southern end of Andalucia. To the east are the Costa del Sol and the Mediterranean; to the west lie the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean; heading south will bring you to Morocco.
Gibraltar's population is mainly a mix of Genoese, Jewish, Spanish and British races, along with sizeable British and Moroccan minorities. Signs are in English but Spanish is also spoken, as well as a curious mix of these two languages.
After a failed attempt of invading the Iberian Peninsula by Muslim troops in 1462, Gibraltar remained under Spanish administration until 1704, when an Anglo-Dutch fleet captured Gibraltar during the War of the Spanish Succession. Military attempts to regain it followed until 1783, and after that, Britain developed it into an important naval base. From 1969, when Gibraltarians voted in favour of British sovereignty, a new constitution gave "the Rock" domestic self-government.
Attractions and events:
Due to its privileged geographical location, its warm climate, and its turbulent past, Gibraltar has many curiosities that a visit can hardly fail to stir one's interest.
The Gibraltar Museum has good historical, architectural and military displays, including a well-preserved Muslim bathhouse and a detailed model of the Rock made in the 1860s. Some British fortifications, gates, and gun emplacements can be seen in the museum's vicinity.
Another major attraction is the Trafalgar Cemetery, where graves of British sailors remind of the Battle of Trafalgar, held in 1805. You can walk from here to Europa Point, the southern tip of Gibraltar, where there's a lighthouse, the Christian Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, and a handsome new mosque.
Most of Gibraltar is a nature reserve, home to 600 plants species and a colony of Barbary macaques, the only wild primates in Europe. These can be found at the top of the cable-car station, from which the coast of Morocco can be seen during clear weather. About a 20 minute walk south down St. Michael's Road, you can reach St. Michael's Cave, a big natural grotto used for concerts, plays, and even fashion shows.
Gibraltar's modest program of annual events includes a flower show in April, an arts and sporting festival which runs through most of May, and an annual fair which straddles National Day in September. There's also a drama festival in early December.
How to reach Gibraltar?
Since the land border is open 24 hours a day, Gibraltar is easy to reach by land, through the Spanish border town of La Línea de la Concepción, 20 km east of Algeciras and about 4 hours from Seville. Being a British colony, Gibraltar is well connected by airplane with London and Luton, with daily flights from these destinations. There are no regular buses to Gibraltar, but the bus station in La Línea is only a five minute walk from the border. If you're driving, lines at the border may make it less time-consuming to park in La Línea and walk across.
You may also use the ferry service, connecting Gibraltar and Tangier about three times a week, taking two hours. The ferries can also transportate cars.