The Rock of Gibraltar is the most prominent feature of Gibraltar, a United Kingdom Overseas Territory. The highest point reaches to 436 meters. It was created from millions of years of limestone formations. The Rock has long been a beacon signaling the end of the Mediterranean Sea -- and in ancient times it was thought it was the last thing before the edge of the Earth. While undoubtedly at one point in history the rock was an island it is believed to have been a peninsula for at least 100,000 years.
The Rock overlooks the Strait of Gibraltar which connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. From the top of The Rock you can look south to Africa and north to Spain. The Rock has long been a military stronghold sought after by those wishing to control traffic between Africa and Europe and ship bound traffic through the strait.
The Upper Rock Nature Reserve protects all the wild animals and most of the plants on The Rock. It also contains most of Gibraltar's historical sites including:
- St. Michael's Cave -- a natural cave found in the rock that has been known by humans to exist since Roman times.
- The Apes' Den -- home of the tail-less monkeys known as Barbary Macaques. The are found wild in Morocco and Algeria, but The Rock has the only free-ranging ones in all of Europe.
- The Great Siege Tunnels -- created during the American war for Independence when France and Spain attempted to take control of Gibraltar from the United Kingdom. Tunnels were dug inside the rock so that guns could be mounted in the precipitous north face of the rock.
- The Moorish Castle -- thought to have been created in the 8th Century by Moors who used it as a staging ground for their eventual invasion and control of Europe. The Moorish control of the land lasted until the 15th Century. Many of the original walls and fortifications date back to these early times so one can see much early Muslim architecture.
Gibraltar provides cable cars that can quickly transport tourists from the lower grounds of Gibraltar up to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. It goes almost without saying that any trip to Gibraltar would not be complete without a trip up to the Rock on the cable cars.