The Rock of Gibraltar, a 5km long and 1.2km wide peninsula, located in southern Spain but truly British. This small British territory has a population of about 30,000 people, subject to the British legal system as well as the currency. It is now a tourist destination for many from around the world and become the newest hotspot in our pandemic driven world with its green list for the UK.
So, what makes us unique, apart from the monkeys (yes, we have free roaming monkeys which you can go visit in the Upper Rock). The Rock of Gibraltar has many things that set it apart from other regions in Europe.
1. It's History
Gibraltar is rich in its history, after a long period of Spanish rule, where they fought the Moorish empire to the North, it was finally under British control between 1704 and 1713.
It's walls are rich with stories from WWII, many of which are still intact today and are the foundational walls that encompass the old town. To best see these works, visit Gibraltar and go where the locals go, head to the unchartered Northern Defences. It is one of my favourite spots here on the Rock and an authentic attraction that isn't frequently visited as its literally off the beaten track.
Visiting these WWII tunnels should definitely be on your list if you come here! You will spend a couple of hours walking through the old tunnels inside the Rock. There are more than 35 miles of tunnels in the Rock, many of which are not accessible by anyone. Visiting these is an experience not to be missed.
Finally, if you'd like to literally walk into history, please do not miss visiting the City Under Siege exhibition, its on your way out of the Upper Rock and its beautifully made up with Madam Tussaud type dolls, ambience music of the time and incredible views of the old town.
As a side note, please do take up some bottled water with you, there aren't many places to buy any up the Rock and the heat can get quite intense in these summer months.
2. The actual Rock of Gibraltar
The rock itself rises from the Mediterranean Sea at a staggering 426m high. In a time where we are all constantly on our mobile phones, you can stand in one place looking out over the Mediterranean sea in all directions and not see a single person or building higher than your vantage point. Simply breathtaking.
3. The Spanglish
The actual beauty of having been brought up in a place that's so close to Spain is the fact that many of our ancestors are of Spanish heritage and therefore, we have been incredibly lucky to have been brought up bilingual.
We actually think in Spanglish, which after having lived in the UK a couple of years and have friends who speak many languages, I know this is a feat in itself as normally people just think in one language, their mother tongue, and then use their second language when necessary. Gibraltarians actually THINK in spanglish and I think this is absolutely marvellous. If you ever get to hear some of us talk, it's ok if you can't keep up! Apart from our ability to shift from one language to another in the space of a word, the speed in which we talk is normally very quick also.
4. It's culturally diverse atmosphere.
Considering there's only 30,000 of us in this little place, we are incredibly culturally diverse with representations from all religions. It's truly beautiful to see the community get along and come together in times of need. You will always find a place of worship should you need it while in Gibraltar.
We are also incredibly diverse within the sports and culture community. We have many dedicated and talented individuals who lead all sorts of sports and associations here in Gibraltar, meaning that if you'd like to try something out, from abseiling to yoga, there is always someone you can talk to to get involved!
5. Lastly, the thing that I think makes us the most unique, is our People.
We have a vibrant way about us, an incredibly ambitious and supportive community. As everywhere else in the world, individually, we may all have our differences but when it absolutely comes down to it, we will stick with each other and help locals and tourists alike in the best way we can.
Other fun facts are that we use our own brand of pounds which are pegged to the British pound sterling at close to a 1:1 ratio. Similarly, we also use our own unique postage stamps and license plates with an image of The Rock's Pillars rising into a cloud formation on one side and Queen Elizabeth II's portrait on the reverse.
Images courtesy of the Gibraltar Tourist Board.