Think of Gibraltar and it tends to be its Rock that first springs to mind. Although this tiny, British-owned peninsula measures just 2.6 square miles, its dominating Rock holds great significance, and is a major tourist attraction in its own right.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a monolithic promontory that sits perching over the Strait of Gibraltar, adjacent to neighbouring Spain. Forming part of the Betic Cordillera mountain range, the Rock dates back to over 200 million years, and consists of Early Jurassic limestone, shale and dolomites. Ancient fossils have been found embedded in the Rock, and archaeologists believe that it could have been the last place that Neanderthals lived some 24,000 years ago.
The Rock measures 426m high at its peak, with steep cliffs on the eastern side and a flatter edge towards the west that faces the main town.
A fascinating feature of the Rock of Gibraltar is that it is home to a 50km network of underground tunnels, known as the Galleries or Great Siege Tunnels. The tunnels were first excavated in 1782 and more were dug out during the second world war by the British Army, as a place to accommodate troops, ammunition and supplies. The tunnels are now frequented by tourists. The Rock is also home to around 100 caves, with St Michael's Cave being the most famous - concerts are often held in its main chamber.
Gibraltar's Rock is arguably most famous for its resident Barbary macaques, of which there are about 300. These small apes are in fact the only wild population in Europe and they attract many tourists each year.
Visitors to the Rock can reach its summit by cable car or by travelling the 29km of roads. The upper part of the Rock is a designated nature reserve, which is protected by the law of Gibraltar. Most of the Barbary macaques can be found in the nature reserve area.
The pivotal position of Gibraltar at the tip of Europe, looking out towards Africa, makes it a haven for birds on their migratory travels. It has been deemed an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. 315 species of birds have been recorded on the Rock, with 250,000 raptors alone passing by during migration. The Rock is also the only breeding ground in mainland Europe for the Barbary partridge.
Several species of lizards and snakes call the Rock their home, including an unusual reptile that has no eyes or legs. 33 species of butterfly also frequent the Rock, as well as moths, dragonflies and praying mantises. The Gibraltar funnel-web spider is endemic to this area.
The Rock is home to a diverse range of plant life including many herbs and flowers such as candytuft, chickweed, saxifrage, thyme and campion, which are endemic to Gibraltar. Wild olive trees, carob and Aleppo pine can also be found on the Rock.
Gibraltar's Rock has inspired the saying 'solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.' If you want to ensure your finance plans are rock solid. then you need to speak to Fiduciary Wealth. We specialise in providing cross borders financial solutions to UK expats, and our wide range of services includes investment advice, tax planning and retirement planning.
For further information, please contact us.