My latest cruise from Miami, Florida to Lisbon, Portugal had Gibraltar as one of our port stops and it did not disappoint! From the NCL Sun, I booked a tour called ” A City under Seige” which takes you up to the top of the rock as well as explore some other areas including the Great Seige Tunnels.
We board minibusses this time as regular full-size buses are not allowed inside the city of Gibraltar and head over to the southernmost point to get our view of the Gibraltar Strait. It is located just shy of 9 miles away from the African coast and the country Morocco, as one can see in the distance. This Strait is of course vital strategic interest because it was the only access to the Mediterranean before the Suez Canal was built. Sitting on the Bay of Gibraltar, the city is only 3 miles long and 3/4 miles wide surrounded by Spain, and rises 1396 feet into the air with spectacular views. With a population of about 34,000 Gilbratans as they are known, have great pride in their sovereignty and it is still a point of contention between Britain and Spain. Various treaties and agreements have been drawn up, but it still remains a territory of the British government.
We now head to the cable car that takes us up to the Top of the Rock. There are 2 cars running side by side with a capacity of about 15 people each opposite of the other for the quick 6 minutes ride to the top for the fantastic views and of course the apes. These Barbary macaques have roamed the Rock for hundreds of years and after several warnings from our tour guide about them snatching items from tourists, they were surprisingly very calm. It seems like we were interrupting their grooming hour?
After spending about an hour enjoying the vistas we head down a little way to the Upper Rock to the Great Seige Tunnels, about halfway down the Rock. These tunnels were originally started back on May 25, 1782, for the protection of Gibraltar during the American Revolution War. The work was mainly carried out by hand using picks, shovels, and blasting with a final length of about 908 feet. With openings to the sea for cannons, it became a great defensive position that later served during World War II after an expansion to house men and equipment.
We conclude our day with a quick city tour and back to the ship!