Gibraltar was our first stop on our cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. My day began at six in the morning. I went up to the 15th deck to capture the “Rock of Gibraltar” during the sunrise. On our agenda that day, we planned to visit the “Rock”, which was possible to reach by a funicular. (You can walk up to save money, but why? Though some do walk down the hill).
It is 1398 ft. high and offers panoramic views. But it is also known for its monkeys. I’d heard about their behavior before; especially stories about them stealing from tourists. As a precaution, I specially brought my old photo camera (just in case). After getting to the top, we were greeted by a monkey who climbed into our funicular cabin with us. Everyone was excited to capture photos. Monkeys are fed by the staff and visitors are warned not to bring any food. Some did not listen, and as a result, there are number of exciting stories about monkeys opening purses to steal bananas or grab an ice cream from a child. It is believed that the Moors,who lived there between 700 and 1492, introduced the Barbary Macaques to the area of Gibraltar. The monkeys are very peaceful and the young ones are playful (like any children). There are about 300 monkeys and you can see some videos of them on Youtube. But what makes Gibraltar special is its history. It is a British Overseas Territory, located at the southern top of the Iberian Peninsula. In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain, and in spite of it bordering with Spain and being far away from Britain, in addition to constant conflicts between the two countries, the local Gibraltarians, who amounted to about 35,000 people, chose to stay independent from Spain.
Today, Gibraltar’s economy is based largely on tourism, financial services, cargo ships refueling and online gambling.
But its history goes back to 50,000 years ago. There was evidence of Neanderthal habitation discovered in one of the local caves. Since then many things changed, and many wars were fought for the strategically located Rock.
After our visit to see monkeys, we came down to explore an old street with some buildings going back to 1600s, where there are restaurants, stores and hundreds of locals and tourists mingling together. There I noticed some Muslim women with their head coverings and religious Jews with their head coverings. The irony was that both of those groups were persecuted and expelled from their Spain in the fifteenth century. Now all of them are together with other people from different parts of the world, who call themselves Gibraltarians.
P.S. These four images show the Rock and of course, the monkeys.
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