Gibraltar also known as the Rock is the last colonial territory in Europe.
The Rock´s strategic value has always been strong because there you have control over all traffic in and out to the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar.
A well known offshore paradise, the rock with about 30 000 inhabitants currently has more registered offshore company´s than registered home´s, and around seven million visitors annually. (Do not forget the passport).
There are 27 pubs along Main Street in Gibraltar, all more English than in London. Welcome to the rock that is a thorn in the Spaniards and a matter of principle for the British. There really is not any reason not to make a visit to Gibraltar when staying in Costa del Sol!
The Spanish ruled the rock for 400 years. 1713 it was handed over to the British as part of the Utrecht peace agreement. Since then, the Spanish have demanded to have the rock back.
General Franco closed the border to Gibraltar in 1969, and so it remained until 1985 when it was opened to the Spanish and Gibraltar inhabitants, a few years later the border opened for us all.
The blockade was an attempt to force out the British. The isolation lasted for 15 years. England supported with money and the rock is still a British crown colony.
In 2001 the prime ministers of Great Britain and Spain met, they had some difficulty agreeing about Gibraltar’s future. The same year it was a referendum in Gibraltar. 99 percent voted against that Spain should rule the rock.
Even more recently, the border has been closed, Monday 2005-10-24 Spain closed the border to the British colony, to prevent 500 gastroenteritis passengers from the cruise ship Aurora to get into the country, and this triggered a wild quarrel with GB.
It is allowed to drive into Gibraltar, but the queues in as well as out of the rock make this a bad alternative. The way back thru Spain customs and passport control could take several hours and it is extremely difficult to park inside the crowded city. Buses are available from La Linea, the town on the Spanish side of the border.
Another option is to park in La Linea and walk across the border. You find plenty of parking spaces even during peak season.
The typical English red buses are on the right side of the road after passing customs and take you into the centre.
The view from “the Rock”, where you can see the Straits of Gibraltar and all the way to Africa on clear day, are often neglected by tourists, focusing on shopping. Yet, shopping ha dropped significantly since the days when the border was opened. Cigarettes, perfumes, liquor and chocolate are the most common “souvenirs”. The electronics for sale are not interesting today, the latest models are often not available and the prices are not that low compared to Spain as they were before.
At the peak of the Rock the only wild monkeys in Europe live. The top of the rock is easily accessible by cable car or by minibus. When you in any way get up to the top, remember here it is the apes who rules. It is not allowed to feed the monkeys and they can sometimes be aggressive. Do not bring plastic bags, they think it is food, hold tight to lose clothing and purses. Several belongings have been tossed down over the cliff by the monkeys.
If you want to visit a beach, there are several to choose from. On the Atlantic side there are the beaches Camp Bay and Little Bay. On the other side of the cliff lies the village of Catalan Bay. A Former fishing village that many Spanish used as refuge when Napoleon invaded Spain in begging of the 1800 century. Today it is a thriving resort town.
It takes one hour to drive there from Marbella.
The currency is: Euro, Sterling pound, Gibraltar pound (which is worthless outside of the Rock).