The city of Barbary apes
On any Mediterranean cruise, Gibraltar’s interest essentially lies in its novelty: the genuine appeal of the strange, looming physical presence of its rock, and the dubious one of its preservation as one of Britain’s last remaining colonies.
During your excursion to Gibraltar you will discover the necessarily simple town layout, as it’s shoehorned into the narrow stretch of land on the peninsula’s western edge in the shadow of the towering Rock.
Main Street (La Calle Real) runs for most of the town’s length, a couple of blocks back from the port. On and around Main Street are most of the shops, together with many of the British-style pubs and hotels. From near the southern end of Main Street you can hop on a cable car, which will carry you up to the summit via Apes’ Den halfway up, a fairly reliable viewing point to see the tailless monkeys. Although not encouraged by the cable car’s fare structure, after riding to the top it’s possible to walk back down, a pleasant twenty- to thirty-minute stroll.
From The Top of the Rock you can look over the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and down to the town, the elaborate water-catchment system cut into the side of the rock.
The area at the top of the Rock, containing the Apes’ Den, St Michael’s Cave and other sights, is called the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. To walk down from The Top of the Rock (20min), follow Signal Station Road and St Michael’s Road to O’Hara’s Road and the Mediterranean Steps – a very steep descent most of the way down the east side, turning the southern corner of the Rock. You’ll pass through the Jews’ Gate and into Engineer Road, from where the return to town is through the Alameda Gardens.