Overlooking the scenic Rosia Bay where Nelson was dragged ashore after his famous victory in the Battle of Trafalgar against Spain is the 100 Ton Gun. This is one of the key stops of the Gibraltar Rock Tours, and one of the main things to do in Gibraltar as the only other surviving replica is in Malta, a sister colony since 1870. One of only two in the world, the gun was installed in the 19th Century but never used in wartime. Nicknamed ‘Rockbuster’, it was mounted on 23 July 1883 after experts saw the need for a heavy RML (Rifle Muzzle Loading) battery in the area. Its 17.72inch (450mm) tube and rigid mount needed 35 men to operate it, firing one missile every six minutes. There was another similar gun at Victoria Battery – where the Fire Station is now – and some of that emplacement still remains today. But the Nelson’s Anchorage specimen is in particularly good condition, with a lot of detail along its 35ft (11m) length. One can only imagine that each shot took a quarter ton of gunpowder to launch, and its 1.75 metre recoil meant users had to be well clear from the back of the gun during firing. As one of 15 guns made by the Elswick Ordnance Company owned by Armstrong Whitworth, it was in fact rejected by the Royal Navy as it was too heavy and costly. Its range was just 5,995m but it could crack open 394 of steel like a nut, depending if they were armour-piercing, high explosive or shrapnel shells, all weighing 2,000 pounds and having a diameter of 17.7inches (450m). The Napier of Magdala Battery where the gun was installed, was constructed from 1878 to 1884 on the south-western cliffs of the Rock, it is one of the favourite Gibraltar attractions by military enthusiasts and tourists alike. The 100-ton gun [got a four-star rating on a well-known travel app- expedia link?] is a staple of the private tours Gibraltar has to offer, bringing to bear the power of a British empire at the height of its strength. Its strategic placing overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar gives it an impression of bygone days when Gibraltar was a garrison where the surviving civilian population made it their home.
On the descent from the Great Siege Tunnels, the Gibraltar tours arrive at the City Under Siege Exhibition. This is one of the most interesting things to do in Gibraltar as the Great Siege was one of the longest in history. Connected to the siege tunnel experience, it shows how people in the fortress survived the most traumatic effects of having their food supply cut off by Spanish troops sieging the Rock for four long years. When Gibraltar was a garrison two and a half centuries ago most residents were from the military. When the Spanish decided to siege the Rock from 1779 to 1783 they were forced to adapt. The few civilians that lived here back then also played their part in keeping the garrison well-served. This exhibition is a touching tribute to all their efforts, located in one of the first buildings to be constructed, dating back to the 18th Century. Known as Willis’s magazine, it is thought to have been used to prepare and hold ammunition for transportation to the cannons around Gibraltar. Living through a siege meant that there was very little to do but wait, leading to more destructive habits like drinking to overcome the tension, frustration and boredom. This led to extra discipline being enforced among the ranks. Punishment by whipping was commonplace, with one particular drummer receiving 30,000 lashes in 14 years! That must have hurt! Food was in short supply too, with flour rationed and many of the civilians forced to eat seaweed, wild onions and even grass! A single cabbage would cost more than two days’ wages and the head and feet of a sheep three weeks of army pay. The lack of fresh fruit and vegetables led to the breakout of diseases like smallpox, influenza, dysentery and scurvy. Everyone planted crops where they could and even moved to the southern side of the colony in tents and huts to escape the constant bombardment. Relief convoys were the only way to bring in much needed supplies but during the whole Great Siege only one got through each year. Despite these hardships, the 5,000 troops stationed in Gibraltar resisted the Grand Assault on 18 September 1782. A total of 60,000 troops, 49 ships and ten specially created floating batteries were unable to retake the fortress, making true the simile, ‘Strong as the Rock of Gibraltar’.
The presence of Gibraltar as a fountain of wealth to the region is undisputable, and it can best be seen on Gibraltar private tours. The round trip of the Rock gives you the sensation of how Gibraltar has changed over the centuries. See the former water catchments on the east side, which are now being given a new lease of life as a nesting place for birds on the Rock side. Check out the beaches below it too, which have been replenished with Sahara sand or the traditional Catalan Bay fishing village which maintains its original charm. Take a peak at a port which served the British Empire on its expansion in the Mediterranean or the more modern buildings that have sprung up along the Western seafront. The guided Tours in Gibraltar will give you some of the history of the area, showing how successive governments have brought to life areas formerly occupied by the Ministry of Defence. You will get to see some of our classic hotels too, which complement the Gibraltar offering and which have really made the Rock a world-famous location for cruise-liner passengers and day trippers alike. Experience the Gibraltar identity in all its forms, looking up to the Rock which has withstood so many wars or to the people milling around in their daily lives. You will start to see some of those roots that have moulded the Gibraltar population. Whether it is the Maltese traders who settled on its shores or the Genoese migrants who came here looking to call it home, tours of Gibraltar show its diverse origins. The 360 degree tour will show off Gibraltar’s walls in all their glory, as they encircled the city and protected it from invaders through the centuries. It might be hard to believe but the sea came right to their base for many years until the creation of the port. Further reclamation has filled in those areas occupied by water where now impressive luxury homes sit, overlooking peaceful marinas with sailing boats from around the world. The more recently developed areas of Ocean Village or Europort, that with their blue-glassed towers have become frequented by the rich and famous. They have won awards for their design too, with their modern architecture providing a striking contrast with the history around them. All in all, expect Gibraltar to surprise you with the way it has married the old with the new, history with technology, patience and ambition.
When you think of tours in Gibraltar the first idea that might spring to mind are the famous Gibraltar rock tours. But you will be amazed to know that one of the highlights of private tours in Gibraltar is the drive over the runway. This single runway, which is more 5,511ft (1,680m) long, is one of the quirkiest Gibraltar attractions. Built on the site of a race-track as a Royal Navy back-up in 1939, it was to play a big role as an airbase in World War Two. Nowadays it might just be an obstacle to Gibraltar transfers when tourists have to wait for planes to land, but back then it was an important part of the war effort. Rock dug out of tunnels were used to extend the runway so that larger planes could take-off and land there, helping the Allies win the war. One of the mysteries of the war took place on 4 July 1943 when a B-24 Liberator II took off from the Gibraltar runway and crashed into the sea. Exiled Polish prime minister Lt. Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski died in the incident making him a national hero. Although the crash was deemed to be accidental, a number of historians have suggested there was foul play afoot and the Nazis had sabotaged the flight. After that, the airport was used to bring the first tourists to Marbella before the Spanish dictator Franco shut the frontier in 1969. Despite this, a passenger terminal was built in 1972, that was extended during the following years as one of the only exit points to the Rock. After the border re-opened with the death of the Fascist general, the Cordoba agreement allowed the building of a new air terminal. This allowed more flights to UK and even some to Spain, which soon stopped because they were just not selling. The airport is considered to have some of the most exciting landings and take-offs in the world being so short, so close to the city centre and with the road that crosses it. However, the latter will soon be a thing of the past as a tunnel will be opened soon, so this is a rare opportunity to enjoy the runway drive before it becomes etched into the history of the legendary Gibraltar Rock Tours.
For those going on semi-private tours in Gibraltar there are few Gibraltar attractions more panoramic than Europa Point. From below the lighthouse and our own minaret we can look at where a whole history of civilisations clashed and warred for control of the Mediterranean. The Ibriham-al-Ibrahim mosque at the site, a £5million gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, is testament to 700 years of Moorish rule in the whole area. But this empire which spread until southern France and Portugal was not the only one that passed through the area. Much before that, the Phoenicians and ancient Greeks traded under the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar. Their tradition led the Romans to name the Rock and Jbel Musa the two pillars of Hercules, marking the entrance to the Mediterranean a majestic site. And how was the Rock formed, you might ask. Well, five million years back, long before you could take Gibraltar Rock tours, a huge waterfall opened between Jbel Musa and the Rock of Gibraltar. The Atlantic flowed into the Mediterranean desert for 100 years, forming the Straits of Gibraltar. While this view fills the panorama, to the left and right we can see the two Spanish settlements of Algeciras and Ceuta. The port on the Spanish mainland is one of the biggest in Europe, while Ceuta on the African mainland is one of two Spanish exclaves on the African continent. Impossible to miss is the Gibraltar Trinity Lighthouse, erected in 1841 around 49 metres above the sea level. Although it was once manned by personnel who lived below the red and white painted circular building, it is now fully automated and can shine its light 37km out to sea. Alongside the lighthouse, Gorham’s Cave is now a UNESCO world heritage site after the Gibraltar skull was found here. It contains the first recorded painting by Neanderthals 37,000 before the Common Era and is in continual excavation under the watchful eye of the UN. Recently, a university was added to the Gibraltar attractions in the area too, making it a centre for learning as well as leisure. It reflects well the multiple inferences that converge on this point to make it a central pillar for all Gibraltar private tours while giving you a 180 degree view to remember.
After seeing all the tourist sites in our Gibraltar Rock Tours why not take a dip into the cosmopolitan town centre for a spot of shopping. The Main Street is a central hive for all sorts of products from electronics to perfumes, games to sunglasses, clothing to memorabilia. It all starts from Casemates Square, where the Muslim ruins are encircled by a number of fancy restaurants and bars. Here you can bathe in the sun as you watch the everyday life of our community pass you by, while sipping at a coffee or gin and tonic. If you are feeling peckish there are a host of different options available in this square with even more options down Main Street or nearby. Fancy a quiter environment? Why not head down to Chatham Counterguard on your private tours in Gibraltar. This area of bars and restaurants will get you the possibility of trying some delicious fish food, a variety of wines or even or a cocktail or two in a charming environment. Adjoining to this square beneath the fortifications is Irish Town, which like Main Street is pedestrianised for safe and easy access. More restaurants, bars and cafes line this narrow street giving a plethora of choices on how to spend your afternoon in the sun. For another perspective, look upwards for a curious peak of Gibraltar’s multicultural roots where Venetian blinds collude with British colonial structures. There are plenty of more sites to see on your semi-private tours in Gibraltar too. Check out the Convent where the Governor resides, guarded by soldiers of the Gibraltar Regiment, or the national museum, jam-packed with entertaining exhibits that give a unique perspective of the Rock through the ages. Here you will find out more about the Gibraltar in Prehistory or our time under the Phoenicians and Romans right up to the present day. And if you fancy getting away from it all for more eating and drinking options Ocean Village is a tranquil location overlooking the luxurious marina. There are so many things to do in Gibraltar that you will never get bored, with the leisure centre even having its own ice rink and bowling alley. This combination of Gibraltar attractions will ensure you get the most out of your day and whether it is shopping, learning or just relaxing, you will always feel at home.
As you are driven up the Rock the Gibraltar Rock Tours take you to the highest point on which O’Hara’s Battery is located. This commanding military location gave the British that conquered the Rock in 1704 a unique vantage point over the entrance to Mediterranean. It was named after former governor General Charles O’Hara, who believed that an original tower would be able to spy on the Spanish fort of Cadiz. Of course this was achieved as it was nearly 200km away which led to it being called O’Hara’s Folly. Historical reports suggest O’Hara was an eccentric man who had a number of mistresses and a number of children with them, leading him to be called the Old Cock on the Rock! Interestingly, he was finally replaced by Prince Edward, who would go on to father Queen Victoria. Nearly a century later O’Hara’s Battery was built on the same site. At first it was equipped with a 6-inch gun before a 9.2 inch Mark X BL gun was installed there in 1901. With a range of 16 miles it could have reached Africa if needed, as this was only 14 miles away. Used throughout both World Wars, it was fired for the last time in 1976. It was finally preserved for tourism as a reminder of when Gibraltar was a key military outpost during the British empire. O’Hara’s Battery was refurbished in 2009 by local soldiers, leading to the area being fully opened for the public in May 2010. Further work by the 10 Signal Regiment in September 2012 led to it being even more presentable. The 9.2 inch gun, magazine, engine room and second gun barrel are all now listed with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust for their protection and maintenance. The control room, engine room and observation post can now be seen by visitors who will be able to experience this formidable piece of military machinery that was used for nearly a century. The ample detail of the restoration process make it one of the best things to do in Gibraltar during a visit, especially for those interested in the way the Rock was defended. Breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic make this a wonderful location from which to sample both history and scenery. From there it is also easy to see migrating birds of all shapes and sizes as they criss-cross the Straits of Gibraltar.
As the Rock’s top natural beauty this cave is a must-see on the Gibraltar rock tours. At a height of 300 metres above sea level it is only accessible on foot or via private tours Gibraltar caters for in a very convenient fashion. Receiving nearly a million visits a year, it is one of the jewels of our crown. It also has a local use, as the cave was converted into an auditorium in which to watch shows literally inside the Rock. Only last year Mark Steel filmed a show here and there are also numerous classical music and jazz events held in this remarkable setting. Visiting the cave in one of our Tours of Gibraltar is following the steps of prehistory. In 1974 a Neolithic bowl was found and since then a picture of an Ibex drawn around 60,000 years ago showed the cave’s usage by the earliest human beings. The Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians passed through here too as the writings of Pomponius Mela and Homer show. The idea of using the cave as a place of entertainment originated in Victorian times, where parties, concerts and duels were held inside it. It would be lit up a bit like it is now, as soldiers used the space for their own recreation on visits to the Rock. It led to exploration of the different passageways, with its usage by as a wartime hospital during air attacks. Another range of caverns that stretches far below the Rock was discovered in 1942 when troops tried to create an alternative entrance to St Michael’s Cave. is another of the long list of things to do in. Those who want a bit more excitement can arrange guided tours in Gibraltar to see the Lower St Michael’s Cave. It showcases rare geological formations and an underground lake which visitors have to walk around or can even swim in during the visit. Legend has it that St Michael’s cave is bottomless and that the famous Rock monkeys which hang around at its entrance arrived on the Rock through tunnels that cross the Straits. During Ancient Greek times, it was believed to be the Gates of Hades, giving avid explorers who never returned a possibility to enter the underworld. Nowadays it is a far less bleak prospect as the exits are clearly marked.
As you circle down from the summit on the Gibraltar Rock tours, you come to the northern side of this solitary piece of limestone. On your way in from your Gibraltar transfers you might have seen a number of square holes dotted into the North Face of the Rock. These were formed during the Great Siege which lasted from 1779 to 1783, which now form an essential part of the Gibraltar rock tours. The fact that the Great Siege Tunnels are placed in such a hidden corner of the Rock means that they are often less frequented by those on foot. With our Tours of Gibraltar you will get to see a magnificent human achievement, where the Royal Engineers managed to make headway through solid rock two and a half centuries ago. The intention was to cut off the Spanish advance as it had reached a point where cannons from Gibraltar batteries were no longer able to reach them as they were obstructed by the Rock. Work on the tunnels was slow at first as workers mainly used sledgehammers and pickaxes to gnaw at the solid limestone, loosened by dynamite. The explosions were loud and created so much smoke and dust that a vertical shaft needed to be created as an air vent. Not only that, but finding the right amount of distance from the side of the rock proved tricky in an age where there was no such thing as computers and calculations were done very much through guesswork. Eventually, work was completed for the first stretch of the Great Siege Tunnels in late 1783, although by then the siege had all but ended. At 908ft (277m) it included St. George’s Hall along with Windsor Gallery, King’s and Queen’s Lines as well as Cornwallis Chamber. Four cannons were placed in Windsor Gallery and others put at other points of the tunnel as can be seen in the Gibraltar private tours and Gibraltar semi-private tours. Curtains of ropes protected the gunners from the flashes and smoke, while a wet cloth made sure the rest of the gunpowder did not catch fire, causing a major explosion. The tunnels were expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries when they were used for defence of the Rock during peace and wartime. Nowadays they are only visited by tourists who will be treated to Gibraltar attractions composed of light and sound that make it an exciting journey through time.
Even before most other buildings were even thought of, there is one building that has stood the test of time for more than a millennium. The Moorish Castle is a unique structure on the Iberian Peninsular, built by the Marinid dynasty with comparisons having been made with the Alcazars in Spain. The building itself - which includes the Tower of Homage and the Gate House - is an impressive structure in a key position. If its walls could speak would be able to tell us quite a lot about town life over the centuries. Refurbished over the years and containing a prison in its grounds until 2010, it is perched over Landport Gate - the traditional northern entrance to the fortress. Its construction started around 711, after Tarik ibn Zayed and Musa ibn Nusayr had begun their conquest of Europe from around Gibraltar. In just 21 years he had taken most of the Iberian Peninsular all the way into southern France. Gibraltar was a key communications centre between the Moorish settlements of Granada and North Africa from where the empire emanated. As one of the oldest man-made Gibraltar attractions, it is the highest tower from the Moorish period in the Iberian Peninsular. Tours in Gibraltar would not be complete without this historic monument to an empire which was mathematically superior to a post-Roman Iberia. It was built from ‘tapia’, a mixture of lime and red sand, with both limestone and bricks further hardening its composition. That it still stands today is even more remarkable, although it was rebuilt in the 14th century after just over 20 years when the Spanish took it back. It then went on to survive the British onslaught on Gibraltar and the 14 sieges which the Spanish brought to bear on the city. Further down from the Tower of Homage in Casemates Square, a galley-house that was connected to the Moorish Castle was unearthed in recent excavations. This would have been part of a quay where Moorish ships would be serviced after raids on nearby areas. Although its importance diminished with the building of the Old Mole by the Spanish and the British its remains can still be seen. Relive the world from Moorish times in our private tours in Gibraltar when you visit the British territory.
As you rise from the commotion of the city of Gibraltar on one of our world famous Gibraltar Rock Tours, the air thins as the buildings disappear. The town is a densely populated place but Gibraltar private tours help you get away from it all as you go uphill into the clouds. Winding your way up the narrow roads on a private Rock tour, the first of the Gibraltar attractions is the Pillars of Hercules. This view is one of the most panoramic on clear days as it is possible to see the all the northern Atlas mountains, and an isometric view of the bay. The city of Gibraltar stretches below and it is easy to identify a number of its landmarks with its harbour which proved to be a key stop-off for ships servicing the British empire. One can only imagine the cacophony of sights and sounds when huge ships anchored on the shores of the Rock to trade their wares, or the vessels of war that anchored at the Rock for rest and relaxation before fighting the Nazis and their allies all over the Mediterranean. Nowadays the bay is a far more serene sight, although on Gibraltar tours the myriad of ships waiting for orders in the bay still lends an idea to what the world was like in colonial times. You may even be able to spot sailing boats that come from the north in autumn before they take the route to the Canary Islands and then on to the Caribbean. All of this can be seen from this stop on Gibraltar private tours, standing on one of the Pillars of Hercules made famous by Greek mythology that was taken on by the Etruscans and the Romans. In this tale, Hercules was tasked with fetching the Cattle of Geryon and returning to Eurystheus with them, with the Pillars of Hercules marking the most western point in the Mediterranean worldview. Plato placed the lost city of Atlantis beyond these two pillars, the Rock of Gibraltar and Jbel Musa across the straits in modern-day Morocco. This was revived by the Renaissance as the pillars marked out that there was ‘nothing further beyond’ (Non plus ultra), warning sailors and merchants of the danger beyond. Dante Aligheri in his Inferno XXVI tells of Ulysses tells of his journey to get to know more of the unknown. In many ways this is similar to the visitors who are embarking on a voyage of discovery in the Gibraltar Rock Tours.
Just along from O’Hara’s Battery on your Gibraltar rock tour is the upper Ape’s Den. Here you will see a large number of Barbary Macaques, the only free roaming primates in Europe and along with the Japanese Macaques. They are also the only macaques outside Asia, making them a very curious resident on top of an otherwise very serene lump of limestone rock. At first they were deemed to be apes because they have stocky bodies, no tails and spend more time on land than on trees. But in fact, they are monkeys, owing to the way they walk on all fours rather than on their knuckles and that they cannot swing from branch to branch like gibbons. As part of Gibraltar semi-private tours you will see the human ancestors eating from the food provided by natural park keepers or playing together. There always tends to be a large variety of different ages at this stage of the Gibraltar tours, making it an enjoyable experience which your driver will expertly guide you through. These playful creatures are so much like humans it is uncanny, and their evolutionary significance is notable. They are very clever and curious too, so watch your bags because they will take them off you when you least expect it, especially if they can smell food. How they arrived on the Rock is a mystery but it is most probable they were brought over by merchants who arrived here from their native Altas and Rif mountains in Morocco. In their packs, macaques are matriarchal, with the males helping out to bring the young. Members of a pack, that can number from ten to 100, share the parenting process, with males mating with each other within the social grouping as opposed to keeping one partner throughout their life. That might explain a few things in human beings! Unfortunately, Barbary macaques are currently an endangered species in Morocco and Algeria, with their habitat threatened by logging and extermination. Numbers continue to fall, although in Gibraltar they have continued to thrive in stable conditions, to the point that occasionally some are transported abroad. Just below beside is the SkyWalk, officially opened by the Luke Skywalker himself. Walk off the edge of the cliff with nothing but a transparent sheet of reinforced glass. Although not for the faint-hearted, this is truly a thrilling experience!
The World War Two was a tumultuous time for all of Europe and Gibraltar no less. The Gibraltar Private Tours could not be complete without a reference to this critical time in our history when Gibraltar transferred its military force to bear on the Nazis and their allies. The World War Two Tunnels are testament to this effort after the civilian population were evacuated to less conflictive areas of the empire. While it is true that tunnels were built inside the Rock of Gibraltar from as early as the Great Siege, this was just the start. The need for storage, communications and army accommodation in a place that was safe from bombing was answered by these tunnels, which spanned 55miles (77km) inside the Rock. Although some of that was carried out before the war, the 20th Century saw the biggest such operation, continuing until 1968. As part of the Gibraltar Rock Tours, visitors will be able to taste what it would be like to live for extended periods in these tunnels with so little ventilation. Tunnelling experts from the Royal Engineers conducted most of the work with the Canadian Army, establishing a military base on the south east of Gibraltar, fearful of an attack from a Spain with Nazi sympathies. From here all the other tunnels were linked by the Great North Road, a tunnel which is still the longest road in Gibraltar. Around 16,000 troops were stationed in this network complete with telephone system, generating station, water distillation, hospital and ammunition stores. It included Stay Behind Cave, only rediscovered in 1997 because its existence was considered to be so secretive in the event of an invasion. Tunnelling by the time of the war had advanced significantly from the days of the Great Siege. With advanced diamond drilling they could make 60m (200ft) of tunnels per week by 1942, in conjunction with explosives. But structural difficulties hampered progress and many of those tunnels are now unsafe and have been closed down. As you can imagine, living in the dark, damp conditions of tunnels was far from pleasant. Even General Eisenhower who was based on the Rock for the invasion of North Africa spoke of the “damp cold-air in block-long passages” and “the constant drip of surface water”. You can relive these times on the Gibraltar Rock Tours with an exclusive peak into this hive of activity that led to the defeat of the Nazis in Europe.