06 Apr 17

50 Facts about Gibraltar

With so much to see, do and know about Gibraltar, how many of these facts are you familiar with?

1.  In 2013 The GFA (Gibraltar Football Association) was accepted as full UEFA member and in 2016 accepted as full FIFA member.

2.  In 2016 The Gorham’s Cave complex and surrounding buffer zone was declared a World Heritage Site for its Neanderthal historical contributions.

3.  The Rock was formed approximately 200 million years ago and is composed of Jurassic Limestone.

4.  Gibraltar is one of the two Pillars of Hercules, the other is Mount Jbel Musa in Morocco, 24 km away on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar.

5.  Catalan Bay is so called after the group of Catalans who fished in this area, although the original settlers of Catalan Bay come from Genoa, Italy.

6.  The Great Siege (1779-1783) took place in Gibraltar at the same time as the American War of Independence.

7.  It is thought that soldiers mounting guard in a magazine, now the City under Siege Exhibition, drew graffiti in order to stay awake during the long hours of duty, an offence punishable by death in those days.

8.  The first Neanderthal skull was actually found in Gibraltar, Forbes Quarry, in 1848 but its historical value was unrecognised until the later remains were found in the Neander Valley in Germany.

9.  In 1704, a party of 500 Spanish soldiers were discovered by the British, thus unfolding a plot to retake Gibraltar.  It is said that they had sheltered in St. Michael’s Cave for the night.

10.  In 2004 Gibraltarians and friends held hands circling their country to celebrate 300 years of British Gibraltar.

11.  Leonora’s Cave, which stems from St Michael’s Cave, was believed to be the tunnel, which linked Gibraltar to the African mainland and a Colonel Mitchell is said to have vanished whilst venturing down this cave.

12.  In 2009 Miss Gibraltar, Kaiane Aldorino, wins the Miss World title, now currently the Mayor of Gibraltar.

13.  There are original Moorish baths in the basement of the Gibraltar Museum.

14.The Shrine of our Lady of Europe and the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned were originally Moorish mosques.

15.  Tarik-ibn-Zeyad was the first Moorish conqueror of Gibraltar.  Gibraltar was then referred to as called Jbel Tarik, Tarik’s Mountain in Moorish.  Jbel Tarik has since been corrupted into Gibraltar.

16.  The majority of Gibraltar’s population were evacuated United Kingdom, Madeira, Northern Ireland, Jamaica and French Morocco during WWII.  There is a memorial in their honour at Waterport Wharf.

17.  The Convent, the Governor’s residence was originally built for Franciscan monks. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a nun who was buried alive within the walls.

18.  The Convent, the Governor’s official residence is one of the very few remaining Spanish buildings in Gibraltar.  Most Spanish buildings were destroyed during the Great Siege of 1779 - 1783.

19.  Charles V Wall was constructed after an attack by Turkish pirates headed by Barbarossa (Red Beard the pirate) who ransacked Gibraltar in 1540.

20.  St Bernard is the patron saint of Gibraltar because the Spanish captured Gibraltar on St Bernard’s day in 1462.

21.  Queen Isabella of Spain granted Gibraltar its coat of arms in 1502.

22.  Gibraltar was captured in 1704 by an Anglo-Dutch force on behalf of Charles of Austria.

23.  The Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713 was the treaty in which Gibraltar was ceded to the crown of Great Britain in perpetuity.

24.  Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, opened up his own brewery at Europa Point in order to restore discipline to the troops. This was such an unpopular decision that he left before his troops mutinied.

25.  The Owen Glendower was a convict ship anchored off Wellington Front.

26.  Admiral Lord Nelson lost his life in the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.  The Victory was towed back and repaired in Gibraltar whilst Nelson’s dead body is rumoured to have been pickled inside a barrel of rum.

27.  Casemates Square, the main social area in town, is named after the type of barracks in the vicinity and the square itself was a parade ground and site for public executions.

28.  There is a legend that says that should the macaques ever leave Gibraltar so will the British.  Sir Winston Churchill is known to have imported a number of macaques from Morocco during WWII because this primate population was decreasing on the Rock.

29.  Local endemic wild flowers are Gibraltar Candytuft, Gibraltar Chickweed, Gibraltar Sea-Lavender, Gibraltar Campion and Gibraltar Restharrow.

30.  Three types of dolphins are found in the Bay of Gibraltar: these being Bottlenose, Common and Striped Dolphins.

31.  Although never utilised as such, St Michael’s Cave was prepared as an emergency hospital during WW2.  It is now used as an auditorium and open for hire for all types of events.

32.  The American War Memorial was erected to commemorate the alliance between the American and the British forces during the First World War.

33.  Gibraltar War Memorial is located on Line Wall Road.  Two cannons taken from the Crimea during the Crimean War flank this memorial.

34.  The airstrip was created by reclaiming land from the sea using stones quarried out of Gibraltar’s limestone during the tunnelling works of WWII.

35.  Operation Torch, the successful landings of North Africa during WWII, was planned by General Eisenhower, in 1942, from inside a tunnel in the Rock known as the Communications Centre.

36.  The Royal Engineers and a contingent of Canadian Engineers excavated the WWII tunnels.  Total length of the entire tunnel network inside the Rock is approximately 34 miles, 52 kilometres.

37.  The Royal Engineers were formed in Gibraltar in 1772 and there is a monument in their honour in Main Street opposite the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned.

38.  General Waladyslaw Sikorski died in an air crash in July 1943 at Gibraltar.  There is a plaque dedicated to his memory in the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned, two plaques at the Great Siege Tunnels and a memorial at Europa Point.

39.  General Sir George Don officially opened the Alameda Gardens.  The money to create the gardens was raised by a series of public lotteries in 1816.

40.  The Royal Marines aided by Dutch marines captured Gibraltar in 1704 and there is memorial in their honour located at Ocean Village.

41.  There is the jawbone of a whale located inside the Alameda Botanic Gardens at one end of the bridge above The Dell.

42.  Queen Elizabeth II last visited Gibraltar in 1954.

43.  Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex visited Gibraltar for a two day visit in June 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

44.  The first referendum was held in Gibraltar on the 10th September 1967.  This day has now become Gibraltar’s National Day.

45.  The frontier closed in 1969, re-opened partially for pedestrians in 1982 and re-opened fully in 1985.

46.  The Trinity Lighthouse at Gibraltar was first lit in 1841 and is regulated by Trinity House.

47.  In 1951 an explosion was caused by a fire which broke out in a lighter which was unloading ammunition from the 1,200 Naval Armament vessel the SS Bedenham, tied up on the Ordnance Wharf, carrying 500 tons of mixed ammunition. 

48.  John Lennon and Yoko Ono married on the Rock in 1969.

49.  The trial of the Marie-Celeste, ship found drifting off the Azores with nobody on board was heard at our law courts in 1872.

50.  English is the official language of Gibraltar, although Spanish is widely spoken.  There is even an unofficial local ‘dialect’ unique to Gibraltar called Yanito, which is a combination of English, Spanish, and even some Italian mixed in.