Tourist tracks – Gibraltar


Cross of Sacrifice: The Gibraltar Cross of Sacrifice is a war memorial designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1917, and his monument is found in numerous Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. The cross in Gibraltar was erected by the Royal Engineers for the commission, and unveiled on Armistice Day 1922. The inscription reads:

1914-1918 – 1939-1945

The cross in this forecourt is similar to those raised throughout the world in grateful and undying remembrance of the sacrifice made by the sailors, soldiers and airmen from all parts of Commonwealth who died during the two World Wars. The officers and men whose names are honoured on the panels nearby were buried at sea. With their comrades who lie buried in the North Front cemetery and in the Jewish cemetery they gave their lives in Gibraltar whilst serving the Country.

The Moorish Castle

The fortifications on and around the site of the Moorish Castle were first built in 1160, or earlier. These were, however, destroyed when the Spanish re-conquered Gibraltar from 1309-1333. The Tower of Homage, its main feature, dominates the hillside and the landward approach to Gibraltar. A rebuilt tower dates primarily from about 1333 AD when Abu’l Hassan recaptured Gibraltar from the Spanish. On another occasion, the Count of Niebla attacked the castle, was captured by the Medieval defenders and his body was suspended from the walls in a barcina, a net for carrying straw.

The Tower of Homage proudly displays the battle scars inflicted during the various sieges. Here a Spanish governor held out for five months against the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who took Gibraltar from his own sovereign, Queen Isabel of Spain. In 1540, hundreds of people found safety inside the castle when Turkish pirates ransacked Gibraltar. The lower castle formerly stretched all the way down to Casemates Square, the Grand Battery area and the Old Mole. It is interesting to note that the courtyard of the Moorish Castle served as a prison up until 2010.

Mon-Sun 09:30 – 19:15 Included in the Nature Reserve Fee

 World War II Tunnels: With the entry of Italy into the War, and a powerful Germany dominating Europe, the strategic importance of Gibraltar grew. The problem of storage was urgent and vital; space became even more valuable; stores, food, and equipment had to be built up and protected, and siege accommodation was required for the troops. A tunnel system would meet these needs, and would give full protection from the then known types of air attack, as well as from sea and land bombardment. At the start of the war, the civilian population was evacuated and the garrison was greatly increased in size. Numerous new tunnels were excavated to create accommodation for the expanded garrison and to store huge quantities of food, equipment and ammunition. The tunnelling was carried out by four specialised tunnelling companies from the Royal Engineers and the Canadian Army. A new Main Base Area was established in the south-eastern part of Gibraltar on the Mediterranean coast, shielded from the potentially hostile Spanish mainland, and new connecting tunnels were created to link this with the established military bases on the west side. A pair of tunnels the Great North Road and the Fosse Way, were excavated running nearly the full length of the Rock to interconnect the bulk of the wartime tunnels. The tunnels accommodated what amounted to an underground city. The entire 16,000-strong garrison could be housed there along with enough food to last them for 16 months. Within the tunnels there were also an underground telephone exchange, a power generating station, a water distillation plant, a hospital, a bakery, ammunition magazines and a vehicle maintenance workshop. The total length of the entire tunnel network inside the Rock is approximately 34 miles, 52 kilometres.

Licensed tour guides will take you on a tour lasting approximately 30 – 40 minutes and include static exhibitions and photographic displays. Tours run Monday to Sunday from 09:30 – 19:15 (last entry 18.15). Due to increased demand, customers are asked to pre-book the World War II Tunnels timeslots in advance in order to avoid disappointment. Advance bookings can be made and confirmed by email at from Monday to Friday, during office hours (0800 to 1530hrs). It will, alternatively, be possible to just show up on any given day and join the next available tour, as long as numbers fall within those required by health and safety guidelines.

Mon-Sun 09:00 – 18:15 Adult 8.00 In order to access this attraction you will need to enter the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, Upper Rock with a full attractions ticket – £12

Art Walk

Casemates is a good starting point with the Fine Arts Gallery above the Glass Factory showcasing temporary exhibitions. Here you can sample the work of some of the more prominent, current local artists and groups, with international artists also using the venue. From the Square we take you up Casemates Hill to Montagu Bastion, to the Gibraltar Exhibitions of Modern Art Gallery, GEMA. Here you can enjoy around 50 artworks, many previous winners of the three main art competitions held annually in Gibraltar. GEMA is also home to six works of internationally acclaimed Gibraltarian artist Christian Hook. A varied collection, which includes sculptures, video, installation and photography.

You can continue your walk through Irish Town: at the commercial heart of the city of Gibraltar. In the period when Gibraltar was Spanish, the street was called the Calle de Santa Ana. It was also the venue for a convent for nuns, founded in 1587. When Gibraltar was taken from Spain by an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704, The Convent of Santa Clara was abandoned by the nuns and the convent of La Merced was taken over by the Royal Navy as a storehouse and apartments for the victualling clerks. In due course, the street became known as Irish Town.

The original Irish residents were probably Irish women immigrants who came to Gibraltar in late 1727 and early 1728. They were sent out to provide female company for the troops. The street is currently a location for a synagogue, a former meat market, former warehouses and a merchant house – an example of this can be seen in Sacarello’s coffee shop. The ground floor was a merchant’s shop and the first floor was a store, accessed from the street by a winch on the exterior of the building. Probably the most significant public building on Irish Town is the former Victorian police station of 1864 and was the headquarters of the Royal Gibraltar Police until 1984.

In the early 20th Century, the bustling commercial Irish Town included tobacco factories, coffee roasting works, and many shipping offices. The character of the street changed in the latter 20th Century when the street was pedestrianised. In addition to its traditional activities and its many shops, the street embraced a new leisure and gastronomic character with its numerous shops, bars and restaurants. (A leaflet available from the tourist information office has more detail on many of the buildings and history).

Arriving at John Mackintosh Square you will find the City Hall. This building has an interesting history in its own right and houses the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery, established in 2015. This Gallery is dedicated to four deceased artists, Gustavo Bacarisas, Jacobo Azagury, Leni Mifsud, and Rudesindo mania, considered to be the most renowned and prolific local artists of the time. It also pays tribute to the work of Mario Finlayson, the artist who has been the main campaigner for a National Gallery in Gibraltar. Mon-Fri 11:00 – 15:00

Historical Walk

Start outside the Crystal Factory, Casemates Square

Casemates Square: The square takes its name from the British-built Grand Casemates, a casemate and bombproof barracks completed in 1817. Located at the northern end of Main Street, the square is lined with numerous pubs, bars and restaurants. Strategically positioned at the entrance of Main Street in the heart of Gibraltar’s shopping district, this lively area was once the site of public executions. Following the refurbishment of the square in the 1990s to replace a car park which occupied half the square, it is the site for al fresco restaurants, cafés and bars, and has become the hub of nightlife in Gibraltar. The square is also used to host various major cultural events from live open-air concerts and grand military parades to National Day celebrations and New Year’s Eve parties.

The Square is the site of the original Moorish Water Gate through which the Moors launched their galleys. General Adye opened the second gate in 1884 to provide for the much-increased traffic from the north, which Landport was not wide enough to carry. Landport Gates was the entrance to the town from the North, approached by a drawbridge across the wet ditch; it gave access through the Moorish defence wall from the castle to the Barcina, the port area of Moorish and Spanish Gibraltar. The British rebuilt it after the 1727 siege.

Picture the scenario: it is the second half of the fourteenth Century. The Battle of the Strait is unfolding. Spurred by the capture of Gibraltar by the Spaniards in 1309, a new Muslim dynasty that has taken over the whole of the Maghreb crosses the Strait and recaptures the Rock. These Merinids control a large territory, northwards to Ronda. To the east Granada is under the control of the Nasrids, to the north-west, Christian forces are pushing towards the Strait. These forces are vying for control of the Strait among themselves and with the two powerful navies of Aragon and Genova. With the fall of Algeciras to the Christians, Gibraltar becomes the main port of the Merinids.

Determined not to let Gibraltar fall once again, the Merinid Emir Adu’l Hassan strengthens Gibraltar. Hassan fortifies the Castle and encircles the town with strong walls. To reduce the threat of attack on his fleet, sheltered in the shallows close to where Casemates is now situated, he builds a Dar-al-Sinaha, a galley house (from which the terms arsenal, darsena and atarazana are derived). In the safety of the galley house, encircled by sea walls and under the mighty protection of the castle, Hassan’s fleet strengthened and waged war on the rival navies.

For centuries after this, Casemates has always been associated with military activity. The Spaniards eventually recovered Gibraltar in 1462 but as shipping evolved, Casemates could no longer house the large galleons. Casemates had by then been turned into a residential district known as La Barcina. Here people lived in single storey houses with flat roofs in the Berber style. They kept cattle and donkeys within the confines of the walls and they harvested the marine resources of the shallow bay. La Barcina could not protect the Spanish Galleons and the Spaniards suffered a heavy defeat, prompting the restructuring of the fortifications by Luis Bravo and the move of the harbour facilities towards the new mole in the south.

Casemates thus continued until 1704 when George Rooke captured Gibraltar. The immediate aim of the British was the strengthening of the Rock’s fortifications. The north of Gibraltar was particularly significant because of its proximity to the Spanish lines. The large galley house, with its thick 2.5-metre walls, was an ideal building in which to store ammunition. It became the Shot House and stood the onslaught of the thirteenth siege in 1727 at a time when most of the houses of La Barcina were destroyed. The area was so devastated that most of it was levelled in 1713, leaving the shot house, which survived until it was severely damaged and pulled down after the Great Siege.

Casemates was to continue to be a military place. At the beginning of the nineteenth Century, the barracks were built on the north of the square and the square itself became the training and parade ground for the troops. It continued to be used in this manner into the twentieth Century and the square was used for public hangings. At the square, we also find the Koelher Depression Gun Carriage designed by Lt Koelher R.A. during the Great Siege 1779-1783 to enable the defenders to shoot down at the enemy who had come too close to the foot of the defence works.

Today the development of Casemates Square is a celebration of peace. It is now a place where people of different beliefs and ethnic backgrounds meet in the spirit of conviviality that is so characteristic of Gibraltar.

Walk up the hill at the end of Casemates Square by the taxi stand and cross Line Wall Road at the pelican crossing near the American War Memorial

American War Memorial: The Memorial is a World War I naval monument located near the north end of Line Wall Road. This memorial was incorporated into the Line Wall Curtain and American steps that give pedestrians access to Reclamation Road, Fish Market Lane, Chatham Counterguard and Queensway. The monument was designed by architect Paul Philippe Cret (1876 – 1945), a native of France who was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Cret designed the memorial on behalf of the American Battle Monuments Commission. It was constructed between 1932 and 1933. The inscription over the arch of the memorial indicates that it was “erected by the United States of America to commemorate the achievements and comradeship of the American and British Navies in this vicinity during the World War”. On the other side of the masonry arch are two bronze medallions depicting the seals of the United States and of its Department of the Navy. The dolomitic limestone utilised in the construction of the monument was sourced in Gibraltar. The memorial is an example of the successful incorporation of a relatively recent work into older, existing architecture.

Memorial plaques at the base of the steps at the monument:

USS Chauncey: Memorial plaque naming persons who perished in the Strait of Gibraltar 1917. The destroyer sailed on   1 August 1917 for convoy escort duty in the eastern Atlantic. On 19 November, some 110 miles west of Gibraltar, Chauncey was rammed by the British merchantman SS Rose as both ships steamed in war-imposed darkness.

US Coastguard Tampa: sunk by enemy submarine in Bristol Channel on 26th September 1918. All on board were lost.

Coast Guard Seneca: Vessel lost in endeavouring as volunteers to salvage the torpedoed British Steamer Wellington in the Bay of Biscay in September 1918.

The First US Naval Squadron at Gibraltar: In commemoration of their arrival on 1 July 1801.

Walk down American Steps, head south along base of walls towards King’s Bastion

King’s Bastion: it is thought there has been a fortification of sorts on the same site as King’s Bastion for more than 800 years. The first was probably a Moorish gate known as the Algeciras Gate decorated with rich Arab workmanship and incorporating a key design, still popular today. This was destroyed by El Fratino, an Italian military engineer in 1575 when the Spanish finally decided to strengthen Gibraltar’s defences after prolonged and violent attacks from the Corsairs (Turkish pirates based across the Strait).

Fifty years later Philip IV called for further modernisation of the fortifications and Line Wall, including the San Lorenzo battery where King’s Bastion now stands. The gun platforms were placed so they could give cover to their own ships sheltering in the lee and fire on any enemy vessels bombarding the city walls. When the British had to fight off the combined forces of France and Spain during the Great Siege in 1779 to 1783, King’s Bastion proved invaluable.

Major General Sir Robert Boyd, who served in Gibraltar as Lt Governor and Governor from 1768 to his death in 1794 at the age of 84, designed King’s Bastion in 1772 as part of his overall plans created in 1769 to make Gibraltar an impregnable fortress. He was in charge of forming a company of military artificers in 1772, which later became the Corps of Royal Engineers.

The soldier craftsmen and labourers worked under Colonel William Green, Chief Engineer during the Great Siege; King’s Bastion was their greatest work. Begun in 1773 and completed in three years, the bastion was a grand structure with casemates large enough for a regiment of 800 men. During construction, Major General Boyd incorporated a special vault for himself according to his wishes and although eventually buried there, no record exists of the exact site of the tomb. When laying the foundation stone Boyd had declared he hoped to live to see the bastion defy the combined might of France and Spain. It was only six years after its completion that it played just such a role. From there red-hot shot was first fired on the Spanish floating batteries and Governor General Eliott chose to stand there throughout the Great Siege attack of 1782.

In the 1960s the Bastion’s military use came to an end and was again modified, this time to house Gibraltar’s new power generating station. The station was designed by local architect Natalio Langdon, and was opened in October 1961. After closing down in the 1990s, the decision was taken to demolish it in 2005, so as to re-expose the original bastion.

King’s Bastion was revealed again and its historical importance once more appreciated, when in 2000 the bastion was converted into the present-day leisure centre, a clever fusion of modern leisure facilities and old military installations. It boasts a bowling alley, ice-skating rink, multi-cinemas, children’s play park, restaurants, events areas and gymnasium amongst other facilities.

Go up the British Steps and stop at the memorial

British War Memorial: The Gibraltar War Memorial, also referred to as the British War Memorial. The monument, which commemorates the fallen of the First World War, was sculpted by Jose Piquet Catoli of Barcelona, Spain and was constructed of Carrara marble. The memorial was unveiled by the Governor of Gibraltar, Sir Charles Monro, on              27 September 1923. The Governor had the esplanade and steps built along the Line Wall Curtain for the residents of Gibraltar in 1921.

Adjacent to the monument are two Russian guns that were captured during the Crimean War (1854–1856). The guns were given to Gibraltar in 1858 for its assistance during that conflict. Four such guns were presented to the City of Gibraltar for the valuable help given to Britain and her armed forces during the war. The other two guns are situated at the main entrance to the Alameda Gardens.

Cross road at pelican crossing and stop at John Mackintosh Square

The Piazza: John Mackintosh Square, more commonly known as The Piazza, has been the centre of city life since the 14th Century and takes its name from John Mackintosh, a local philanthropist. Originally known during the Spanish period as Plaza Mayor (Main Square) or Gran Plaza (Great Square) and afterwards as the Alameda (Spanish for an avenue lined with poplars), it opened out from the west of Main Street. Two buildings separated it from the Line Wall: a large rectangular building to the west of the square, and a smaller lower building to the south of it – the hospital and chapel of La Santa Misericordia (The Holy Mercy).

During the first Century of the British period, the square was used for military parades by the garrison and therefore known as the Parade or Grand Parade. The square was also where military punishment in the form of floggings took place. In 1704, after the city’s capture by an Anglo-Dutch fleet, the British converted the hospital and chapel of La Santa Misericordia into a debtors’ prison at the western end of the square.

In the mid-19th Century the name of the square was changed to Commercial Square, being the site of a daily flea market and regular public auctions, as a result of which a Spanish name, Plazuela del Martillo, or more colloquially, El Martillo, was coined (“martillo” being the Spanish word for a gavel). Another popular name at the time was Jews’ Market. These appellations fell out of usage and the square is typically referred to as ‘The Piazza’, an Italian name created following the construction of a paved area in the centre of the square, probably introduced by Gibraltar’s Genoese settlers. The name ‘John Mackintosh Square’ was officially adopted in 1940.

Face east looking at the building between John Mackintosh Square and Main Street

Parliament House: In 1807, Gibraltar merchants had founded a library in Bedlam Court, as they were denied membership of the Garrison Library, it being available only to members of the British garrison in the city; civilians were excluded, regardless of their prominence. In 1817 local merchants raised money by public subscription to construct a building, on the east side of the square, to house the Exchange and Commercial Library. It housed not only a library, but also an auction room, and became the meeting place of local merchants. It became the Legislative Council and was inaugurated as such by the Duke of Edinburgh on 23 November 1950. Under the 1969 Constitution, the House of Assembly was established, superseding the Legislative Council. The first session of the House of Assembly was opened in August 1969 by the then Governor Admiral Varyl Begg. The building was renamed Parliament House in 2007.

Face west at building between John Mackintosh Square and Line Wall Road

City Hall: In 1819, Aaron Cardozo, a prosperous merchant of Jewish Portuguese descent, built the grandest private mansion ever seen in Gibraltar. The three-storey house dominated the square. It was erected on the site of the old hospital and chapel of La Santa Misericordia and later prison. As a non-Protestant, Cardozo was not legally allowed to own property in Gibraltar. However, as he had been a close friend of Horatio Nelson and had supplied his fleet, Cardozo was eventually granted this site to build a house in the Alameda on the condition that it be ‘an ornament’ to the square. Its cost was about £40,000. After his death in 1834, his mansion was rented out as a hotel called the Club House Hotel. It was bought in 1874 by Pablo Antonio Larios, a wealthy businessman and banker, Gibraltarian-born and member of a Spanish family, who completely refurbished the building. In 1922, his son Pablo Larios, Marquis of Marzales, sold the building to the Gibraltar colonial authorities, who intended to turn it into a post office. However, it eventually became the premises of the newly formed Gibraltar City Hall. Nowadays it houses the Mayor’s Parlour, Ministry for Culture and National Art Gallery (see Art Walk, above).

Face south at building between Gibtelecom and parade of shops

The Gibraltar Heritage Trust Building: After the Great Siege, a colonnaded Georgian guardhouse was built on the southern side of the square. It was the Main Guard, the place from which all the sentries in Gibraltar were posted each evening. Some years later it hosted the then Fire Brigade. After the move of the brigade to the fire station at Victoria Battery in 1938, it became the Rates Office, later the Arrears Section and Transport department. Today the old guardhouse houses the Gibraltar Heritage Trust and a Gibraltar Tourist Board information counter.

Head onto the Main Street and turn right

Although it is tempting to stop and look at shop windows do not forget to look up at the buildings. These properties are unique as they reflect the diversity of nationalities that make up the Gibraltarian. These include, amongst others, Georgian timber sash windows, Genoese-style shutters, Portuguese-style tiled façades,Regency wrought iron balconies, Andalusian-style ceramic roof tiles and inner patios, Victorian ogee cornices and heavy British military-inspired carved keystones, arched stone doorways and other stonework. During the Great Siege, which lasted in the region of four years, the town suffered widespread destruction. As a consequence, civilians resorted to rebuilding in the previous Moorish style, using the old foundations as a guide line which resulted in the existing narrow streets, arches, mazes of steps and alley-ways as can be seen in the upper town. The garrison was able to undertake a bigger project of rebuilding and produced the bastions, gateways, defences and walls (many of which still exist today).

Stop opposite Gibraltar International bank

Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned: This Roman Catholic Cathedral is built on the site of what used to be a very beautiful and richly decorated mosque. After the Christians drove the Moors from the Rock in 1462, the Mosque was used as a church until the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, decreed that it be stripped of its Islamic past and extended. They donated bells and a clock for the 100ft tower, which remain to this day, and their Coat of Arms was placed in the courtyard where it can still be seen.

The courtyard was four times its present size and contained an orange grove surrounded by cloisters. The church itself extended to the opposite side of what is now Main Street. During the Great Siege (1779-1783), it suffered tremendous damage and despite the attempts of returning exiles to rebuild gradually, scant progress was made.

In 1790, Governor Boyd offered his assistance in return for a third of the land on which the building stood, enabling him to re-route Main Street. An on-going after-effect of this loss of ground is that mortal remains are frequently uncovered during routine excavations of the road outside.

These days, only Bishops are honoured with internment in the Cathedral, in the crypt under the Statue of Our Lady. But up until the 1800s, any person who died in Gibraltar had the right to be buried under the floor of the Cathedral. It was later discovered that the sacristan enjoyed this business ‘on the side’. Such was the privilege of being buried in holy ground, people from outside the town willingly paid bribes in return for a guarantee of a reserved plot. The unscrupulous sexton would exhume recently buried corpses and burn them in quicklime in the so-called ‘Room of the Goat’ at the back of the church, thus freeing spaces for his ‘clients’!

Situated in the courtyard is the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, her statue having been placed there in 1858 by Bishop Canilla, in gratitude after his brother had been miraculously cured of a tumour during a visit to Lourdes. The grateful Bishop also placed a large statue of Our Lady at the top of the tower for all to see, but this was removed at the turn of the century. Inside the Cathedral the High Altar is very grandiose and is in the style of that of St. Peter’s in Rome. The beautiful marble plinth and columns with the six-ton bogatino top were originally bound for South America when the ship carrying this precious cargo sunk in the harbour. The Arengo family bought the salvage rights and installed the marble in the Cathedral as their family altar; it was later placed in its present position. The silver was brought back from the New World 500 years ago.

The Cathedral is named after Our Lady of Europe and there is a statue in her honour at the altar. A duplicate of the original is in the shrine at Europa Point. People come from all over Europe to pay their respects.

Another statue has been given the rather unusual name of Our Lady of the Flannels; she was found floating in a box in the harbour some time in the 18th Century wrapped in flannels.

On one of the walls is a plaque commemorating the death in Gibraltar of General Sikorski, the wartime Polish Prime Minister. The liberator aircraft in which he was to have flown to England, crashed into the sea off the east side of the Rock after take-off. His body was brought to the Cathedral for blessing before being transported to England in a Naval Destroyer. After the war, the Poles presented a picture of Our Lady of Chestochowa which now hangs next to the plaque in memory of that great man.

The history of St. Mary the Crowned goes on and on! In 1951, the whole city was shaken when an ammunition ship, the Bedenham, exploded in the harbour. Debris flew in all directions and a large piece of the ship hit the top of the Cathedral, causing a serious crack. This was only discovered a few years ago, initiating extensive renovations to the top of the façade.

Bedenham Memorial: On Friday 27th April 1951, whilst tied up alongside Ordnance Wharf near a point now called Bedenham Steps, the naval armament vessel RFA BEDENHAM, loaded with 500 tons of ammunition, blew up, causing 13 deaths and widespread destruction throughout the city of Gibraltar. In 2001, on the 50th anniversary of the explosion, a plaque was placed by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust in memory of all who perished.

Face the monument outside the Cathedral at the junction with Bomb House Lane

Royal Engineers’ Memorial – The 1772 Sapper Statue: The monument comprises a life size bronze statue of a Sapper dressed in 1772 uniform, mounted on a limestone rock from Gibraltar.

Members of the Royal Engineers have served on the Rock since it was captured by the British in 1704. One of the first Royal Engineers to serve on the Rock was Captain Bennett. He arrived with Admiral Sir John Leake from Lisbon in November 1704. Bennett supervised the development of the fortifications and dug a series of mines into the glacis of the Land Port.

The next significant visitor from the Corps was Colonel (later Major General Sir) William Green. He arrived in 1761 as Senior Engineer and stayed for over 20 years. His first task was to prepare plans for the modernisation of Gibraltar’s defences. Green’s greatest work was King’s Bastion.

Colonel Green submitted the suggestion of the formation of a company of military artificers to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Gibraltar. Too well aware themselves of the disadvantages of the system of civil employment in carrying on the works of the fortress, they were sympathetic to the trial of any experiment that promised success; and in recommending the plan to the attention of the Secretary of State, they expressed their decided opinion that many advantages would certainly arise by its adoption. The royal consent was accordingly given on 6 March, 1772, thus originating the Corps.

Walk up Bishop Rapallo Ramp, stop outside the O’Callaghan Eliott Hotel and face the grand building opposite the hotel

The Garrison Library: This magnificent building was built on the site of the former Spanish Governors’ residence in Spanish times, inaugurated in 1793 and completed in 1804. The Garrison Library’s founding was due to the perceptive Captain (later Colonel) John Drinkwater, author of one of the most famous histories of the Great Siege of Gibraltar. Having suffered from a lack of reading material during the siege, Colonel Drinkwater saw the need for a good circulating library and club as a means of saving the officers of the garrison from “having their minds enervated and vitiated by dissipation”. His appeal for books, made shortly after the siege, attracted nearly 500 gifts, which enabled the library to open pending the arrival of the 674 volumes on order from London, there being no bookshop in Gibraltar at that time.

The library now houses thousands of books, including many rare volumes and offers an excellent local history collection. It contains many of the finest books published in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries; lithographs and art prints are also held here and even the furnishings are said to have interesting historical backgrounds. The building also served as the headquarters and archive service of the Gibraltar Chronicle, the world’s second oldest English language newspaper. Currently the library has become the epicentre for the Prestigious Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival, held in the autumn. Tours can be arranged.

Face the church at the south end of the car park

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church: The foundation stone was laid in 1852 by Mrs Grey, wife of the then Captain of the Port. After many difficulties, which were overcome by the determination of the Presbyterian community, the church was formally opened by the Rev James Drummond of Forgandenny, Scotland in 1854.

For many years there had been some agitation to secure a building for use by the Presbyterian community, but it was not until 1843 that any positive action appears to have been taken. Until the new church was opened in 1854, Presbyterians met for worship in the Exchange Rooms, the Wesleyan chapel, various other buildings, and the homes of members. The fight, which lasted eleven years, was however due to commence and following a declaration, a committee was formed representing Presbyterians of the various military units, Government Departments, and the civilian population. For the next five years many peaceful approaches were made officially and unofficially for a grant of Crown land on which to build a Church. No success attended these efforts, and subscriptions were more forthcoming until some concrete proposal was placed before the public.

In March 1849, a memorial was presented to the Governor praying for a site to be given to the Presbyterians on which they could build a church. His Excellency agreed that he would consider any proposal. In June 1849, various sites were suggested but the Church Committee were told that they could not have them as “they may be required for Government purposes at some future date.”

A member of the Church Committee went to London in 1850 and saw a number of Colonial Office officials who said they supported the idea of a land grant for the Kirk, and would write to the Governor accordingly. The sole outcome of this was a complaint by His Excellency about the unorthodox approach to the Colonial Office. No land was forthcoming.

Memorials to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and even to Queen Victoria, produced no result, and it became apparent that if a site was to be obtained, the whole cost would have to be met by voluntary subscription.

The church was built mainly by local labour under the direction of the honorary architect – Walter Elliot. Whilst much of the stone came from Gibraltar and Spain, it is recorded that three stonemasons came with special stone from Malta.

In February, 1854, work on the church was stopped because funds were exhausted, but this problem was solved by members making a temporary loan of $500.00. The original plans of the church were slightly altered before work commenced, but many alterations have since been made to the interior.

During the past hundred years, considerable improvements have been made to the Church by way of alterations, additions and gifts.

Walk down Library Street, turn right on Main street and at the Sapper’s Statue head left down Bomb House Lane; take the right alleyway to Line Wall Road

Nefusot Yehuda Synagogue: This Synagogue dates from 1800. Moroccan influence inspired a number of members to build a new synagogue which would revert to the old Dutch customs and order of service. The years from 1793 onwards were ones of great prosperity in Gibraltar as a result of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, giving rise to Gibraltar merchants becoming very wealthy through their ownership of privateers and dealing in the rich enterprises they brought into the Port of Gibraltar. So a grand new building was constructed for a sum of $26,300 (almost £6,000 at the time) on a garden that Shemtov Sequerra, a local Jewish merchant, had bought from John Crusoe. The building was opened for worship in March 1799. The old palm tree in the Courtyard is all that remains of the garden in which the synagogue was built. The Dutch bell gable can still be seen. The interior was gutted by fire in the early years of the 20th Century, and was rebuilt by an Italian architect from Carrara.

This building is therefore, a mixture of styles, Dutch outside and Italian inside, with the reading desk (teva or bima) built into the ark (hehal) instead of being separated as is more usual in Sephardi Synagogues. From its foundation until 1882, the minister of the synagogue was a member of the Conquy family. The story revolves round the adventures of the Conquy family, who were supposed to have been the original inhabitants of Gibraltar. In fact, the Conquy family came to Gibraltar from Amsterdam in the 18th Century. The extent to which the congregation of Nefustot Yehuda went to keep to Dutch customs is demonstrated by the fact that in the early years of the synagogue, the ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts) used were sheets taken from a printed book with numbered pages, instead of the hand-illuminated parchments generally used in Gibraltar.

Walk back to Bomb House Lane to entrance of Gibraltar Museum

Gibraltar National Museum: The Museum was founded in 1930 by the then Governor of Gibraltar, General Sir Alexander Godley. Located in the city centre, it houses a fascinating array of historical, cultural and natural history collections, prints, paintings and drawings, and objects from 127,000 years ago to the present day. Parts of the building date back to the 14th Century, when an impressive set of baths was constructed in what is now the basement of the Museum. These Moorish Baths, contemporary with the castle, are some of the finest remains of the period in the Iberian Peninsula. They have been fully excavated and are incorporated into the Museum’s displays. Importantly, the Gibraltar Museum is the main interpretation hub for Gibraltar’s newly-inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site – Gorham’s Cave Complex. The site was added to the UNESCO List on 15th July, 2016 as an exceptional testimony to the occupation, cultural traditions and material culture of Neanderthal and Early Modern Human populations through a period spanning more than 120,000 years. Museum displays include ‘Nana and Flint’ – two very accurate forensic reconstructions of a Neanderthal woman and child taken from the two Neanderthal skulls found in Gibraltar in 1848 and 1926, and a film on the making of the Neanderthal models by the Kennis Brothers.

The Rock has been a world symbol for three millennia and the museum houses exhibits dedicated to the Rock as a symbol from the Pillars of Hercules to the present day. In the garden – an archaeological excavation covering seven centuries of Gibraltar’s history. Natural History of Gibraltar including reconstructions of past landscapes. The Moorish Baths and medieval Gibraltar. The Age of Exploration – 18th and 19th Century scientific discoveries in Gibraltar including the two Neanderthal skulls. The Great Siege – dedicated to the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779–1783). Rock model –an 8-metre (26 foot) long scale model of Gibraltar in 1868, and also includes old photographs of Gibraltar.


The first known collection established in Gibraltar was due to the Reverend John White, chaplain at Gibraltar from 1756 to 1774. Encouraged by his elder brother Gilbert White, he collected zoological specimens which he studied and sent to England. He took advice from Giovanni Antonio Scopoli and also later wrote, in England, what is considered the first detailed zoological account of Gibraltar. However, Fauna Calpensis was never published and it and his collections are now lost. The next known recording of something that could resemble a museum dates from 1830. St Bernard’s Hospital is known to have had a room for specimens of natural history and morbid anatomy. Again, no remains of such collection are kept.

The first actual proposal to open a museum in Gibraltar was made in 1835 at a meeting of the Gibraltar Scientific Society (a group of British Army officers who met at the Garrison Library). The first museum was established in 1842, and it changed its name to the Museum Society. A Mr Frembly was elected as curator on 19 November 1836 and although the precise location of the museum is uncertain, records show that it was housed in rented accommodation and had a large collection of varied specimens. One of the milestones of the existence of the Society, although its importance was not realised at the time, was the presentation of a fossil skull to the Society, said to have been found at Forbes’s Quarry. This skull (The Gibraltar Skull or Gibraltar 1) presented on 3 March 1848 to the Society by its secretary, Lieutenant Edmund Flint of the Royal Artillery, was later found to have been of the same type as the one found in the Neander Valley in Germany in 1856.

By 1850, the meetings became infrequent and proposals were put forward to unite the society’s museum with the Garrison Library, which had been in existence and functioning independently since 1793. The proposal was not taken forward and the collections were transferred to the Soldier’s Home where they suffered mixed fortunes. Gibraltar had lost its first museum.

In the ensuing years, correspondence was passed between Governors and various military personalities on the topic of Gibraltar needing a museum. However, nothing concrete was ever done and Gibraltar was without a museum for the next 35 years.


The present museum’s establishment is due to General Sir Alexander Godley, who became Governor of Gibraltar in 1928. Upon his arrival, he gave an opening address in which he highlighted his reformist aims, which would “help to restore [Gibraltar] to its prosperity which had been showing signs of waning”. One of the elements of this reformist mission was the creation of a national museum. After nine months in office, on 30 July 1929, the Gibraltar Society was launched. Its main objective was to assist the colonial authorities in the foundation of a museum. Godley was able to get two adjacent military quarters for use as a museum. The choice was lucky as under one of them, known as Ordnance House (up to then the residence of the Assistant Director of Ordnance Stores), lay some chambers of a bath house from the Moorish period, which had been used as a semi-underground stable. The Gibraltar Museum opened its doors a year later, on 24 July 1930. In time for the first anniversary, on 10 July 1931, the Gibraltar Museum Ordinance was passed as “An Ordinance relating to Ancient Monuments and Antiquities and to provide for the management of the Gibraltar Museum”.

In the 1970s, the Gibraltar Museum housed the first office of the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS). Founders of the organisation were Joaquin Bensusan, then the curator of the Museum, and Clive Finlayson, current director.


  1. Forensic reconstructions of Nana and Flint – Gibraltar 1 and Gibraltar 2 Neanderthal skulls.
  2. Age of Exploration Rooms: Rooms showing artefacts from pre-history to 20th Century. Includes Phoenician and Carthaginian artefacts from Gorham’s Cave and artefacts and fossils from Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves. Casts of Neanderthal skulls, Gibraltar 1 and 2. New display of forensic reconstruction, ‘Calpeia’ – a Neolithic woman from 5,400 BCE. Interpretation TV screens.
  3. Museum Garden: An open-air archaeological exhibit of an excavation spanning seven centuries of Gibraltar’s history. Fourteenth Century well; sixteenth Century cistern, nineteenth Century water channels.
  4. Karozzin Room: Horse-drawn carriage, of Maltese tradition, used in the 19th and 20th Centuries in Gibraltar. Artefacts discovered by the Underwater Research Unit.
  5. Film Room: Two short films. The making of Nana and Flint, and Gorham’s Cave Complex UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  6. Medieval Baths: Fourteenth Century baths (Hammam), urban and cave excavation artefacts.
  7. Birds of Gibraltar: Displays of bird skins. Models of birds resident to, or migrating past Gibraltar. Interpretation TV screens.
  8. Rock Model – 8 metre (26 foot) 1865 model of Gibraltar with historic photographs of Gibraltar. The model was completed from a survey by Lt Charles Warren R.E. It was made at the direction of Major General Edward Charles Frome R. E. and painted by Captain B. A. Branfill in 1868.
  9. Temporary Exhibitions Gallery: Variety of exhibits replaced on a regular basis. Interpretation TV screen and a collection of short historic films of Gibraltar.
  10. Watercolours of Gibraltar: Lieutenant Frederick Leeds Edridge 1830 – 1834
  11. Gallery with artefacts from The Great Siege (1779-1783). This was an unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American War of Independence; collection of model ships and planes by Mr Manuel Durante; Jose Luis Diez flag, pair cased gold pocket watch; Evelegh collection of Great Siege cannon and related items. Interpretation TV screens. Moorish Baths Located within the museum’s basement level lie the remains of a Moorish bath house built around the 14th Century during the Marinid dynasty. These private baths are known to have been within the Palace of the Governor of Gibraltar. The building was used as stables while the building was under control of the British military with a floor of one of the rooms raised so high that horse-drawn coaches could be moved into the remaining space in the room. The site is now smaller than it was originally as the building suffered extensive damage during the Great Siege of Gibraltar. It is one of the best-preserved Moorish bath houses in Europe. In 1906, Mr Budgett Meakin, an authority on Moorish antiquities, wrote of these baths: “Except in the Alhambra there is nothing in Spain to compare with it; and in Morocco such baths may not be entered by Nazarenes or Jews, so that its interest is exceptional.” Excavations in the museum’s garden revealed a water conduit, dating to the Spanish period. This conduit enters the garden from Line Wall Road and is thought to have been connected to an aqueduct that ran along that road from wells south of the town. It then runs through the rooms and into a cistern under the interior patio. The baths consist of rooms similar to the Roman Hypocaust system of baths with a normal temperature room, a cold room and a hot room. Channels under the floor would allow warm air to circulate as a form of underfloor heating. This process of bathing would act like modern saunas whereby moving between hot and cold temperatures cleanses the body by sweating. Today the museum has expanded to occupy the entire building and not only involves itself in the research, interpretation and display of Gibraltar’s Heritage, but its staff are also working tirelessly prior to and following their successful bid to UNESCO for status of the Gibraltar Neanderthal Caves and Environments as a World Heritage Site in 2016.

Continue South to the end of Bomb House Lane; the Bristol Hotel is on the corner on your left; east of the playground in front of you is the

Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Despite its deceptively Moorish appearance, ‘Holy Trinity’ was not built until 1825. It was consecrated in 1838 at a service attended by Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV. Among those buried here is General Sir George Don under whose direction the cathedral was erected during his posting as Lieutenant Governor of Gibraltar (1814 – 1832). The Holy Trinity Anglican church was raised to cathedral status in 1842, becoming the centre for Anglicans in all Europe except the British Isles. Today its diocese is called ‘The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe’.  Mon-Fri 09:30 – 19:00; Sun 07:45 – 19:00

Outside the Cathedral look to the building to your left to the south of the playground

Duke of Kent House: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (Edward Augustus; 2 November 1767 – 23 January 1820) was the fourth son of King George III of the United Kingdom and the father of Queen Victoria. The Duke tended to live in splendid isolation in this house at Line Wall – although he was sometimes accompanied by his mistress, Alphonsine Saint Laurent. They never lived in the Convent, which was still being repaired after the damage done to it during the Great Siege and only used it for entertainment purposes.

Appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the War Office, the Duke took up his post on 24 May 1802 with express orders from the government to restore discipline among the drunken troops. The Duke’s harsh discipline precipitated a mutiny by soldiers on Christmas Eve 1802. The Duke of York, then Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, recalled him in May 1803 after receiving reports of the mutiny, but despite this direct order he refused to return to England until his successor arrived. He was refused permission to return to Gibraltar for an inquiry and, although allowed to continue to hold the governorship of Gibraltar until his death, he was forbidden to return.

Head back onto Main Street, behind the Cathedral and walk south – stop outside the Law Courts

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court was built in 1820 on the site of an old Judges’ Advocate Court House of 1750. Under charter of William IV it became the Supreme Court of Gibraltar – restored in 1888 and in recent years. New courts opened in September 2012. The new purpose-built building houses seven courts, one for a Coroner, two for Magistrates and four supreme courts. The legal system of Gibraltar is based on English law and is a mix of common law and statute. The hierarchical system of courts includes a magistrates’ court, a supreme court and a non-resident appellate court.

Probably the most famous case heard here was that of the sailing ship ‘Mary Celeste’ (1872) reputably the greatest sea mystery of all time. Gibraltar is also a popular wedding destination – John Lennon and Yoko Ono married at the Registry Office in this building on 20th March 1969. Many other famous people have also married here, such as Sean Connery (twice). The Registry Office has since been moved to a Gibraltar Government Building nearby.

Continue walking south: on your right is the

King’s Chapel: The Chapel to the Convent is now about half its original size. The Chapel, too, suffered during the sieges, and the rising cost of repairs in the 18th and 19th Centuries were a strong contributing factor in the redeployment of its space. It was superseded for general use by the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, which was completed in 1832, and became the Governor’s private chapel for a short period. In 1833 an order was received from London for the closing of the King’s Chapel, which was met with vigorous protests in Gibraltar. The congregation was told that they would have to pay a pew rent sufficient to maintain a military chaplain at a cost of five shillings a day. They were apparently unwilling to do so, and the chapel was duly closed.

However, it gained a fresh lease of life in 1844 when it was restored by the Royal Engineers to serve as an auxiliary place of worship for Gibraltar’s civilian population. So many military personnel were now using the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity that there was little room left for the civilians.

The chapel’s restoration saw the creation of new stained-glass windows that were installed in 1952. The window in the north transept depicts King George VI, while that in the east wall shows Christ in glory surrounded by the Archangels Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel and Michael. The crucifixion is located immediately below, with the Virgin Mary and St Bernard, Gibraltar’s patron saint, on either side. Other panels in the window depict worshippers from the British Armed Forces, members of the Franciscan Order, the capture of Gibraltar in 1704, Saint George, the Royal Arms and the crest of the British Army. The chapel houses many memorials to members of the British Armed Forces, as well as the tombs and memorials of a number of governors and their wives.

Next door (continuing south) is the Governor’s Residence

The Convent – Residence of the Governor: A former Franciscan Convent, established in 1482, was transferred to this site in 1521, and later became the British Governor’s residence in 1711. The King’s Chapel is the chancel of the old convent chapel; the nave, for years used for other purposes, is now the Church Hall.

When the Christians captured the Rock in 1462, a number of religious orders established themselves in Gibraltar. Franciscan fathers took up residency in the area of what today we call The Convent, in about 1480. In 1531, Francisco de Madrid paid for a chapel and for a considerable extension to the earlier Convent.

Shortly after the capture of Gibraltar by British and Dutch Forces for one of two pretenders to the Spanish throne in 1704, the Franciscan friars left. The building, probably slightly damaged during the capture, stood abandoned until 1728 when it was taken over as the palace for the military Governor. The name ‘Convent’ from the Spanish ‘Convento’ (used in Spanish both for monasteries and for convents) has been used almost continuously since the first convent in the 15th Century. Between 1903 and 1943 it was called ‘Government House’. We owe the reinstatement of the historic name to King George VI, who so ordered after his visit to Gibraltar during WWII.

The siege of 1727 caused much damage to the old building, but this was minor by comparison to the severe damage caused during the Great Siege (1779/83) from enemy bombardments from both land and the sea. Major restoration no doubt commenced after the Great Siege, but the most striking alterations were effected in 1863/64 under Lieutenant General Sir William Codrington KCB, the then Governor. This Governor had the Banqueting Hall rebuilt and the façade overlooking Main Street was totally changed, from the back door it had been, to the new, attractive front entrance we now enjoy. The main staircase by the entrance probably belongs to this major renovation.

In 1951 the SS ‘Bedenham’, an ammunition ship, blew up in the inner harbour, but only at a distance of 360 yards. The Convent and its chapel suffered badly as did much of Gibraltar. The Banqueting Hall suffered irreparable damage to its three stained glass windows (1863).

Like many ancient buildings, the old Convent attracts a story or two but perhaps the best known is the one about the Spanish nun brought to this monastery to be executed after having tried to elope with her sweetheart, a monk, in a rather bizarre fashion and thus becoming The Convent’s resident ghost, the Grey Lady.

Continue walking south; stop before you arrive at Victualling Yard Lane to find on the east side (left) the

Methodist Church: The church on the first floor transferred to this location from Prince Edward’s Road where it had been established since early 1803. The Methodist Church in Gibraltar was founded by a group of ‘soldier preachers’ in the early months of the year 1769. The first permanent meeting place was the home of Sergeant Major Ince who was himself a Methodist preacher and was to become famous for his work on the Upper Galleries. Despite great difficulties, the Church grew, and in 1804, the first Methodist Minister was appointed, charged with the care of both service and civilian members of society.

Later a manse and school were added. In the middle years of the 19th Century, Methodist work spread from Gibraltar into Southern Spain, where both church and schools were established. In the early 1890s part of the school in Gibraltar was converted into a recreation club for the soldiers and sailors stationed on the ‘Rock’ who had previously availed themselves of the ‘home from home’ provided by a succession of Ministers and members of the Methodist community. In 1898 the social work of the Church expanded with the opening of the ‘Welcome Soldiers and Sailors Home’ at what was then No.6 Church Street. In 1933 the ‘Welcome’ moved to its present site at No.297 Main Street.

During the years from 1898 to the advent of World War II, the ‘Welcome’ served thousands of service personnel of all faiths and none. During these years also, the Methodist Church in Spain was greatly strengthened by the support of Methodists in Gibraltar. After World War II the old ‘Welcome’ became a ‘Wesley House’ and the social work among the service personnel of all nations was continued and extended.

In 1956 the church in Prince Edward’s Road was sold along with the manse, and the present building was reconstructed to house a church, church parlour, quiet room, restaurant, etc. There is now a flourishing congregation and a large house group, as well as the ‘Carpenter’s Arms’, an alcohol-free bar lounge. The lounge is part of the outreach to the whole community, replacing the restaurant. The Church also plays its part in Ecumenical activities.

Continue walking south and stop after King’s Yard Lane; face the building on the opposite side of the road

John Mackintosh Hall: A community centre established by a Gibraltarian benefactor on 15 April 1964 for the furtherance of English culture and education.

John Mackintosh was born in Gibraltar on the 15 July 1865, at 22 Prince Edward’s Road, where he spent most of his life. His father, John Mackintosh, a native of Scotland, had settled in Gibraltar and did business as a general merchant. He died whilst his son was still a boy. His mother, Adelaide Peacock, came from an old Gibraltar Scottish merchant family. On the 30 June 1909, he married Victoria Canepa, whose mother was one of the seven Saccone sisters. They had an only daughter, Adelaide. They were a united couple and his wife will long be remembered in Gibraltar for her kind-heartedness and her many charities. She shared her husband’s many successes, supported him in adversity and took great care of him during the latter part of his life, when his health began to fail. He died on the 28 February, 1940, and the whole fortress mourned his loss.

The John Mackintosh Hall Cultural Centre was opened by the Governor and Commander in Chief General Sir Dudley Ward on the 8th April 1964, containing a public library, a theatre/conference Hall, gymnasium, spacious halls for exhibitions and other public functions, and a wing for education. In the course of time, ideas about the use of the building have been modified, certain rooms have been put to entirely new uses, and an increasing emphasis has been given to adult and cultural activities. The library now occupies the entire east side of the building and the theatre which was originally thought of as a multi-purpose school hall has changed in character so that it is now better suited to conferences – being fully equipped with simultaneous translation equipment – lectures, music and drama. It has fixed seating and additional space in the circle. It is fully acclimatised and provides for stage productions with modern lighting and equipment.

John Mackintosh Hall is the centre of Gibraltar’s cultural activities where some two hundred societies and associations meet regularly. Amongst these are the Gibraltar Photographic Society, the Gibraltar Astronomical Society, and Chess Club, as well as the Horticultural Society who organise an excellent Flower Show every spring.

Walk south and stop by the large gun at the city gates

Charles V Wall, Southport Gates and Referendum Gate: Charles V Wall was built after 1540 when pirate Barbarossa attacked Gibraltar and sold many of her habitants into slavery. Later the wall was extended to the top of the Rock by order of Phillip II of Spain. The Southport Gates are a trio of city gates located in Charles V Wall. They are positioned between the South Bastion to the west and the Flat Bastion to the east. All three gates carry coats of arms on the outside south flank.

Southport Gate, formerly known as the Africa Gate, was the earliest gate in Charles V Wall. It was constructed by Italian engineer, Giovanni Battista Calvi, in 1552, under the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Southport Gate bears the Royal Arms of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, as well as the coat of arms of Gibraltar. Southport Ditch was a large trench which extended along the south side of Charles V Wall from the south-western end of the South Bastion to Flat Bastion at Prince Edward’s Gate.

The centre gate was cut through the wall in 1883. It was opened to improve the flow of traffic. It was constructed during the reign of Queen Victoria and is ornamented with the coat of arms of the Governor and that of Gibraltar, over which is the Royal Arms of Queen Victoria. In the 19th Century, the Southport Ditch was the site of an ordnance depot. In the 1880s, the South Bastion featured four new rifled muzzle-loading guns. A large magazine was built at Southport Ditch at that time to store the ammunition needed for the new guns. Today, this thirty-ton muzzle loading gun has been relocated inside the gates as a monument to the defence of Gibraltar by the Ordinance Department.

The third gate, named Referendum Gate, is the widest of the three gates, and was carved out in 1967. The gate commemorates Gibraltar’s first sovereignty referendum of 1967, in which Gibraltarians voted by an overwhelming majority to remain British rather than become Spanish. The western portion of the Southport Ditch had been utilised in the 19th Century as a market garden and was known as the Sunken Gardens. At the time that the Referendum Gate was opened, that part of the ditch was filled. Trafalgar Cemetery represents a remnant of the eastern portion of the Southport Ditch, and was formerly referred to as Southport Ditch Cemetery.

Walk through Southport Gate and stop at Trafalgar Cemetery on other side

Trafalgar Cemetery: This is an old military cemetery, established around 1730 and consecrated in June 1798, seven years before the Battle itself. It was then known as the Southport Ditch Cemetery, and was sometimes regarded as a part of the old St. Jago’s Cemetery, which was situated at the other side of Charles V Wall.

Although the name of the cemetery commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, only two of those who are buried here actually died of wounds suffered in the battle (Lieut. William Forster of the Royal Marine Corps of H.M.S. Mars and Lieut. Thomas Norman of H.M.S. Columbus – grave numbers 121 and 101). Most of those who died at Trafalgar were buried at sea, and Lord Nelson’s body was transported to London for a state funeral. Wounded seamen were brought to Gibraltar, and those who died later of their wounds were buried just to the north of Charles V Wall, on the opposite side of Trafalgar Cemetery; a small plaque was recently placed there to commemorate the site.

The cemetery was used for burials between 1798 and 1814, and thereafter fell into disuse, although there is one isolated tomb from 1838 near the far north-east corner (no.60 in the plan on the south wall). Earlier gravestones from St. Jago’s cemetery were set into the eastern wall in 1932, and there are also a few free-standing stones, some of which date back to the 1780s, which have been transferred over the years from the Botanic Gardens.

Many of the tombstones in the cemetery commemorate the dead of three terrible yellow fever epidemics in 1804, 1813 and 1814. Also buried here are victims of other sea battles of the Napoleonic Wars – the Battle of Algeciras (1801) and actions off Cadiz (1810) and Malaga (1812).

One tomb with an indirect connection with Trafalgar is number 103, that of John Brugier, purser of H.M.S. San Juan Nepomuceno – originally a Spanish warship, and one of the prizes captured at Trafalgar.

Graves numbers 46 and 47 are those of Helen Charlotte Smith and Lieut. Holloway, the Garrison Engineer, and grandchildren of Sir William Green, who as Chief Engineer of the Garrison in 1770, founded the Company of Military Artificers which later became known as the Royal Engineers.

For some years now, a ceremony has been held here on Trafalgar Day in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the great victory.

In 1992 a monument, consisting of an anchor donated by the Royal Navy and an inscription quoting Admiral Collingwood’s despatch in which he reported the victory at Trafalgar and the death of Nelson, was unveiled by the then Governor, Admiral Sir Derek Refell.

Outside Trafalgar Cemetery stands a life-size, bronze statue of Lord Nelson by British sculptor John Doubleday erected on the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar in October 2005.


Evacuation Memorial: (just west of Ocean Village, on roundabout with Waterport Road, North Mole and Europort Road) Following the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the British Government decided that the bulk of the civilian population was removed from Gibraltar as soon as possible. This statue was erected in honour of the Gibraltarians evacuated during WWII and sent to Morocco, Madeira, Jamaica, Northern Ireland and England. British troops occupied their homes locally. The Gibraltarians who had the misfortune of being sent to London suffered at the hand German bombings. A couple of thousand men who held jobs considered essential for the war effort were not allowed to leave Gibraltar. The very accurate memorial, the work of Jill Cowie Saunders, shows families re-united after the war. Those who lived this experience find this monument very moving.

Chatham Counterguard: (Reclamation Road, between Line Wall Road and Queensway) Orange Bastion was rebuilt by the British on the site of an older and larger Spanish bastion along the Line Wall Curtain. In 1758 the main face of the bastion held six guns intended to fire out on ships located almost immediately on the other side of the defensive wall. In the 1790s, Sir William Green oversaw improvements to Gibraltar’s defences and arranged for a counterguard to be constructed in front as additional defences. This 1823 counterguard which was originally named ‘Orange Counterguard’ was later renamed to Chatham Counterguard after the Earl of Chatham who was the Governor of Gibraltar from 1821.  The counterguard protected Orange Bastion as the enemy would have to capture the counterguard before taking it on. Nowadays this important historical wall and it’s vaults have been transformed into a lively strip of restaurants and bars, some of which provide regular music and cultural events. The strip, although still retaining its heritage importance, is particularly lively in the evenings with international eateries, wine tasting and music for all tastes.

The Lime Kiln: Limestone has been a source of construction material in Gibraltar since the very first city was built in the twelfth Century. The Arab chronicler Ibn-Juzayy commented how the white houses of Gibraltar contrasted against the red sands that were still visible in those days of the fourteenth Century. Limestone has therefore been traditionally used as a raw material for mortar, used in construction. Lime Kilns, which cooked the limestone to make lime, have been around since medieval times for the production of lime mortar for construction purposes.

They were also used extensively in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and Gibraltar’s lime kilns date from this time. There were many kilns located on different parts of the Rock, but today there is one left, located on Willis’s Road. Three types of lime were produced: White lime (used in agriculture), Slaked lime (used as weak building material) and Quicklime (used in construction works).

The latter was produced by heating crushed rock up in a kiln. The end product was a very corrosive substance that was used in the old days by the authorities to dispose of bodies quickly. Quicklime was also used to make whitewash which was regularly used to paint houses and patios, a practice that seemingly goes back to the days of the fourteenth Century when the Arab chronicler described his view from the Bay. Lime Kiln Steps in the Upper Town takes its name from the activity of lime production.

Limestone and lime kilns were an important economic commodity that generated activity in many trades such as stone masonry. The need for lime stone and lime mortar in Gibraltar created a thriving group of trades and industries working with lime, and also a number of related activities such as charcoal vendors who supplied the fuel for the kilns.

Mon-Sun 09:00 – 18:15 ADMISSION PRICES Included in Nature Reserve Fee

Flemish and Great Synagogues: Gibraltar has a Jewish community dating back some 300 years and the Great Synagogue in Engineer Lane has the distinction of being one of the oldest on the Iberian Peninsula, dating back to 1724. Guided tours of the beautiful Flemish synagogue, located in Line Wall Road, can be arranged. There are a total of four synagogues in Gibraltar. The British Garrison of Gibraltar was dependent on Morocco for food and supplies, difficult to ship out from England. That dependence became crucial whenever Spain imposed a blockade on the colony. Jewish merchants from Tetouan in Morocco came to settle soon after Gibraltar was first occupied by British forces in 1704. They were joined here by other Jews active in the Morocco trade – from London, Leghorn and Amsterdam. The modern Jewish Community of Gibraltar may date back from the eighteenth Century, even though Jews had lived on the Rock in the fourteenth Century and Marranos from Andalusia had also moved here later.

Jews’ Gate Cemetery: An old Jewish Cemetery, used up until 1848, tucked away behind the trees, a fascinating piece of history that reflects the important role the Jewish people have played in moulding Gibraltar’s history.

The Ceremony of the Keys is performed once a year by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and re-enacted every Saturday morning at midday by the Gibraltar Re-enactment Association. Since the capture of the Rock in 1704, the Keys of Gibraltar have symbolised the possession of the Fortress by Great Britain.

The Keys have come to be regarded as the seals of office of the Governor and as such are handed over from one Governor to the next. During the Great Siege (1779-1783) the Governor General Elliot, wore the Keys at his belt constantly except when he handed them to the Port Sergeant. As the Sunset Gun was fired, the Port Sergeant, accompanied by an armed escort, would lock the gates in the North Wall at Landport, Waterport and Chatham Wicket. The Keys would be returned to the Governor.

The following morning the Port Sergeant would collect the keys again, re-open the gates and hand back the keys to the Governor for safe keeping. After peace was restored in 1783, drums and fifes accompanied the Port Sergeant and his escort to warn aliens to leave the Rock before the gates were closed. This procedure was carried out each evening without interruption for approximately 140 years and was discontinued after the First World War.

The event was then revived as a ceremony in 1933.

The Re-enactment Association sometimes vary their ceremony to their already very popular march down Main Street by incorporating a volley of gunfire from their muskets, the Napoleonic era Land Pattern Musket, aka Brown Bess and sometimes change their red and white uniforms to that of other regiments from more recent periods of Gibraltar’s rich military history.  Sat 12:00 – 13:00

The Great East-side Sand Slopes and former Water Catchment


The Great East-side Sand Slopes form an extensive area (approximately 45 hectares) of largely consolidated windblown sands that extend from above Sandy Bay in the south to Catalan Bay to the North. These sands, which contain a high percentage of uniform quartz grains, originated outside Gibraltar, since there are almost no quartz-bearing strata on the Rock. The sand slope was formed during the Quaternary period, when the area to the east was a dry sandy plain and wind action deposited the sand upon existing scree breccias and boulder conglomerate (Rose & Rosenbaum, 1991). At one time, the Talus slopes to the north and south, together with the Sand Slopes, formed one contiguous mass. However, the Catalan and Sandy Bay quarries, opened by the Admiralty in 1895 to provide material for the Dockyard extensions, isolated the Eastside Sand Slopes from the Talus slopes. The talus extremities, located below the major cliff faces – namely Spyglass and Rock Gun – seem to have accumulated the largest quantity of rock boulder material. This has formed the conglomerate scree breccias but is still covered by a sandy layer. The central portion, where the Eastside Sand Slopes are located, has undergone less rock deposition from above, but has a greater accumulation of windblown sands, substantially differentiating this geological structure from the adjacent Talus slopes. Drawings from the 1800s depicting Catalan Bay show that the Sand Slope was almost devoid of vegetation and this confirms the presence of goats and grazing activity. In 1903, the City’s Chief Engineer came up with a plan to cover the 10-acre slope with corrugated iron sheets to collect potable water. This resulted in most of the Sand Slope habitat being lost and with it, a number of plant and animal species including the Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura) which probably relied on this habitat.

The water catchments were deemed obsolete in 1991 with the advent of desalination plants in Gibraltar, thus promulgating their removal and restoration of the habitat in the 1990s. The restoration process was extremely laborious and consisted of the removal of the corrugated iron sheets, followed by the installation of a biodegradable mesh to stabilise the slope. A reseeding programme followed thereafter, using native grasses and shrubs in close consultation with the GONHS. This was carried out by experts from the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. In addition to the removal of the water catchment and the reseeding of the slopes, a complex network of strong rockfall protection fencing was installed.


The first catchment area of this type (an entirely original idea conceived by the then City Engineer of Gibraltar) was constructed in 1903 on the sand slopes of the east side of the Rock, which has an average inclination of 1½ to 1. These slopes had big boulders embedded in them, which were blasted away, the surface trimmed as even as possible and a channel and footpath constructed at the lower perimeter of the collecting area. Into these trimmed sand slopes timber piles 91500mm x 150mm x 40mm) were driven their full length, to these a timber framing of purlins (75mm x 75mm x 4500mm) and rafters (75mm x 75mm x 2400mm) were nailed and on these, corrugated galvanised iron sheets 2400mm x 900mm were secured by means of drive-screws all round their edges. All timbers had been previously treated with creosote forced in at a pressure of 170 lbs per square inch.

Roughly, each hectare covered, took: 5928 rafters, 1112 purlins, 1161 piles; 5928 sheets, 2920 kgs of screws and 850 kgs of washers.

Channels: The collecting channels were designed to convey a maximum of 102 mm of rain per hour on an area of about 14.97 hectares (this being the area available for eventual conversion into catchments). The access footpaths along the channels were incorporated in the design to act as a relief channel fed by an overflow system and itself overflowing through pipes down to sea. The main channel in the east west tunnel had a valve via which water could be diverted into a natural fissure and eventually down to the sea. Water from the first rains, which washed the dirt from the catchments, was flushed away in this manner.

Reservoirs: Between 1911 and 1914 reservoir No 5, of 9,091 cubic metres capacity, was excavated from the rock by means of enlarging a tunnel driven parallel to the channel tunnel and some 7.6 metres below it. The tunnel was enlarged on either side to form a chamber some 12.2 metres high 13.1 metres wide and 121.9 metres in length. After the excavation works were completed and all loose rocks removed, the floor was concreted in two layers, a 150 mm levelling layer of mass concrete followed by a 150 mm slab of 1:2:4 concrete using Portland cement and 35mm stone as coarse aggregate. The walls were constructed using two skins each of 114 mm space between the back wall and the rock face was filled with mass concrete and the 150 mm cavity filled with a Portland cement, 1:1 mortar mixed with 5% water proofing agent. The floor received a 50 mm Portland cement, 1:1 mortar screed and finally rendered with a 19 mm layer containing 5% of water proofing agent. The walls were cement plastered in 3 coats using a 3:1, 2:1 and 1:1 with 5% water proofing agent mix. The last layer of wall plaster and floor render was steel trowelled. Nothing was done to the roof as the rock over the span used is self-supporting.

The catchment area was increased by a further 5.66 hectares and, in 1928, a further reservoir (No 6) was constructed similar to reservoir No 5, but of half its length and with a capacity of 4,545 cubic metres. Each reservoir is connected to the main channel by means of large diameter pipes with valves to control the entry of water into them. They are now also connected to the pumping mains conveying water from other sources. Between 1928 and 1945 four more reservoirs (Nos 7 to 10) were excavated from the rock adding a further 18,181 cubic metres to the storage capacity. It is interesting to note that reservoir No 10, which had been excavated but not completed at the time of World War II, contained a barracks built to house a detachment of the “Black Watch” regiment under bombproof conditions. The construction of these reservoirs follows the original pattern except that they are offset from the pilot tunnel thus providing access to their supply mains. Outlet valves for supply and cleansing are operated from within the reservoirs by means of long spindled hand wheels.

Each reservoir has an overflow onto the pilot tunnel and via the tunnel into the natural fissure. The last reservoirs (Nos 11 and 12) were constructed 1958-1961 at a lower level, reached from the east side, opposite Catalan Bay. These were constructed to receive rain from a further extension of 4.05 hectares of catchment at a lower level on the east side slopes. These brought up the total number of potable water reservoirs to 12 plus the Moorish Castle reservoir providing a total storage capacity of some 72,727 cubic metres.

Following the ceasing of operations of the catchments as a source of potable water, the reservoirs are currently used as service reservoirs and as storage reservoirs providing substantial water reserves.


The Gorham’s Cave Complex is the name given to the area covering some 28 hectares on the east side of Gibraltar from sea level to the top of the Rock. In July 2016, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exceptional testimony to the occupation, cultural traditions and material culture of Neanderthal and early modern human populations through a period spanning approximately 120,000 years. The striking cluster of sea level caves contain archaeological deposits that provide evidence of Neanderthal and early modern human occupation of Gibraltar, and the landscape setting and natural species which assist in presenting the natural resources and environmental context, including climatic conditions, of Neanderthal life. The Gibraltar Nature Reserve, including the Great Eastside Sand Slopes, form part of the buffer zone to the World Heritage site and together they represent over 40% of the territory of Gibraltar.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Viewing Platform is within the World Heritage Site and provides the perfect vantage point from which to view the Neanderthal Caves. The caves themselves are subject to an annual quota of visitors because of their archaeological sensitivity and this facility provides spectacular views and interpretation of the site without risk of causing damage to the fragile archaeology. The platform has a series of interpretation panels which tell not just the story of the UNESCO World Heritage Site but of the area as a whole. At this wonderfully scenic lookout one sees the unique views of the entire World Heritage Site which extends to the highest point of the Rock at O’Hara’s Battery, 426m, 1400 feet above sea level, including Mediterranean Steps.

Gibraltar has a longstanding association with the Neanderthals. The first complete skull was found and presented to the Gibraltar Scientific Society by Lieutenant Edmund Flint of the Royal Artillery in 1848 – eight years before the famed remains found in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf in Germany, which gives its name to these people. A second skull – the Devil’s Tower Child – was found in Gibraltar in 1926.

The Gorham’s Cave Complex is of major significance in understanding the global story of human evolution and adaptation. Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves have been archaeologically excavated over the past 26 years, and results have shown that Gibraltar was last refuge for the Neanderthals around 32,000 years ago.  An international, multi-disciplinary research project has revealed the vital importance of the site in our understanding of a critical juncture in human evolution and of the Neanderthals in particular. Now there is a wealth of information on where and how the Neanderthals and early modern humans lived and behaved, what plants, birds and animals they were familiar with and ate, where they acquired materials for their tools and what their environment was like. There is evidence of their complex social behaviour, dress and unique elements including a rock engraving carved by the Neanderthals in Gorham’s Cave, which indicate their ability for abstract thought.

Gorham’s Cave Complex World Heritage Site and Tours

There are several options for visiting the World Heritage Site:

Unescorted walking tours along the Mediterranean Steps Neanderthal landscape.

Pre-booked guided walking tours to Gorham’s Cave, led by experts from the Gibraltar National Museum and its World Heritage Team. These are subject to a strict annual quota so booking ahead is highly recommended. Tours can be booked at the Gibraltar National Museum, by telephone (+350) 200 74289, or by email:

Specialised boat trips, provide views from the sea of the WHS including Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves (and neighbouring sea caves). Tours on the Dolphin Adventure can be booked by telephone (+350) 200 50650 or by email:

Europa Advance Batteries Viewing Platform, offers views of the site in the context of two continents and a Strait connecting two major water bodies. Parking for coaches and cars is available at the viewing platform and at Europa Point a short walk away. Tickets can be bought on site, or from the Gibraltar National Museum.

The cable car is an easy way to scale the steep rock face if the walk would be too arduous.  The views from the top are spectacular: Andalucian Spain and the Mediterranean, the African mountains across the Straits of Gibraltar, and a number of attractions within the Nature Reserve.  The monument of this Pillar of Hercules stands at the Southern entrance to the Reserve, which contains St Michael’s Cave, a spectacular limestone bowl of stalactites and stalagmites.

At the foot of the cable car is the attractive Alameda Botanic Gardens and Wildlife Park.  The latter is home to a range of animals confiscated as contraband from illegal attempts at smuggling.

Catalan Bay: Catalan Bay village: Little Genoa

Europa Point: Lighthouse, Sikorski Memorial, Mosque, Shrine of Our Lady of Europe; University complex