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Great siege tunnel at Gibraltar

More To See and Do In Gibraltar

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I told you there was a lot going on in this small overseas UK territory! Here are four more places to go when you visit:

Windsor Suspension Bridge – located just above Apes Den on the Royal Anglican Way and spanning 70 metres, (just over 7 London double decker buses) over a deep ravine the spectacular Windsor Suspension Bridge is well worth the effort to go and see. Surrounded by local and World War II history, and overlooking the town and Bay of Gibraltar, you will not be disappointed.

O’Hara’s Battery – If you ride the Cable Car to the top and walk down towards St Michael’s Cave, about halfway down you will see a fork in the road that leads to O’Hara’s Battery. The path is a little steep but well worth it if you are into your military history. Named after Governor General Charles O’Hara there was originally a lookout tower at the point, we now call O’Hara’s Battery. The Governor believed if such a tower was built it would enable the Garrison to see Cadiz and any ships heading towards Gibraltar. After it was built, and his theory was dashed, it became known as O’Hara’s Folly. The battery is the highest point of Gibraltar at 426 metres (1400ft approx.). It is also the summit of the Mediterranean Steps, before the walk back downhill past St Michael’s Cave and on to the Ape’s Den. Alternatively, you can purchase a one-way Cable Car ticket from the top station and glide down in just 6 minutes.

O'Hara's Battery with landscape, Gibraltar

O’Hara’s tower itself is long gone, being shot down in a bout of target practise by HMS Wasp in 1888 but there still stands a 9.2” gun guarding the straits although it was never or will ever be fired in anger. A Nature Reserve ticket is required to access O’Hara’s Battery.

The Mediterranean Steps – these require roughly an hour long and strenuous walk through the fauna of Gibraltar that stretches all around the southern end of the Rock snaking upwards towards O’Hara’s battery. By the end of this walk you will have seen examples of the wild flowers unique to Gibraltar such as Candytuft, Thyme, Chickweed, Campion and Saxifrage. The views of the south and along the eastern side are worth the effort. As the name implies there are a lot of steep steps so if you intend to tackle it in the summer take a floppy hat, sturdy shoes or trainers and plenty of drinking water.

The Mediterranean Steps, Gibraltar

Great Siege Tunnels – British ingenuity was at its best when during the Great Siege of 1779 – 1783 Governor of Gibraltar General Elliott set a competition and offered $1000 to anyone who could get a cannon on an area on the north face of the Rock called the ‘Notch’. An idea offered by Sgt Major Ince to cut through the limestone rock by hand was taken and the British set to work in 1781. The tunnels were dug using black powder charges, hammers, chisels and shovels. An amazing feat of both engineering and human effort these are a sightseeing opportunity totally unique to Gibraltar.

Great siege tunnel at Gibraltar

Walking up the steep slope to the entrance of the tunnels gives you some appreciation of the effort of the men who built them, it must have been unimaginable. Even worse, as you walk through the tunnels, is the display case with the rations for the men. The case has a week’s rations that today wouldn’t last a day. Continue the more than 350-foot walk through the 200-year-old galleries and experience life as it was for them. Marvel at the cannons lining the holes looking out across the isthmus to Spain and shudder as you imagine the roar of the cannons firing in such a space. The tunnel is lined with ’embrasures’ a fortification that allows the firer to remain protected as the weapon fires.

As you walk along the tunnels you will also see ammunition stores and some of the passageways leading to old WWII tunnels. The tunnels were completed in mid-1783 about 3 months after the Great Siege ended. At the end of the tunnel is St Georges Hall where legend says Lord Napier held a banquet for General Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the USA. Interestingly for his efforts Ince was given a commission in the Army, a plot of land on the Rock still called Ince’s Farm and the Duke of Kent (Queen Victoria’s father) gave him a ‘fine horse’. There is no mention of the $1000.

World War 2 Tunnels – See where Churchill and Eisenhower sat and planned Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. After years of abandonment these tunnels have been opened to the public for guided tours. The tour, available daily, takes about an hour and you will be able to view the places Eisenhower and Churchill worked during the planning of the invasion of North Africa in 1941. You enter the tunnels at Hay’s Level just by the Moorish Castle. Walking through the tunnels listening to the multilingual audio guide is fascinating enough but you can also look forward to visiting Jock’s balcony, a unique look out on the sheer north face of the Rock which overlooks the airfield, the local cemetery and northwards over the Costa del Sol.
Why not come and see for yourself? Get in touch and we can arrange a visit that combines sightseeing with privileged access to the finest plots remaining on which villas with breathtaking views can be built.