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Gibraltar on travel radar after Brexit

Associated Press Associated Press 27/06/2016 Brian Witte

Last week's Brexit referendum has plunged the historic port town of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, back into the spotlight.

Its residents are proudly British but rely heavily on the European Union and their border with Spain for trade and freedom of movement. They voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, but with the Leave vote victorious, they now face a renewed tussle between England and Spain over their home's sovereignty.

Britain acquired Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession. Spain has persistently sought its return ever since, and has already indicated it will push once more for joint ownership after Brexit.

Despite this uncertainty, it could be the perfect time to visit Gibraltar. With the pound at its lowest level in over 30 years, the town has become more affordable overnight. And tourists can soak up the area's unique attractions, such as the Barbary macaque monkeys and sweeping views of Europe and Africa, while the territory remains - for now, at least - staunchly British.


This historic port town is steeped in military history, which stems from being a strategic point between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Greeks referred to the Rock as one of the two "Pillars of Hercules".

Today visitors can grab a cable car up to the top of the landmark Rock of Gibraltar to enjoy 360-degree views of Europe and Africa.

Beatle John Lennon married Yoko Ono at The Rock Hotel in Gibraltar in 1969. The line from "The Ballad of John and Yoko" goes, "You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain".


Europe's only free-ranging monkeys are sure to enliven an afternoon enjoying the views from the Rock. While some regard tourists calmly, others can be astute opportunists - eager to pounce and snatch items out of hands and bags. They were known as Barbary apes, but they are actually tailless monkeys. They are now found on Gibraltar and in Morocco and parts of Algeria, a region once known as the Barbary Coast. Visitors can reach them by the cable car, which includes a stop at the Apes' Den.

They have lived in Gibraltar since the British first captured the Rock in 1704 and have remained through many sieges. Folklore says the British will leave the Rock only when the monkeys do. During World War II, Winston Churchill ordered that their numbers not drop below 24. Warning: They have long canine teeth and can bite if disturbed.


Gibraltar features a labyrinth of tunnels more than 50km long that were built for military purposes. Some were dug by hand and gunpowder blasts during The Great Siege between 1779 and 1783, when France and Spain tried to recapture the Rock from the British during the American Revolutionary War. They were built to get guns to cover a vulnerable spot off the northern face of the Rock of Gibraltar. Visitors can walk in the tunnels, which have cannons pointing out of openings in the rock. During World War II, the British added on to the Great Siege Tunnels out of concern Gibraltar would be attacked. These tunnels were built between 1939 and 1944 by the Royal Engineers. Tours are available.


The Moors occupied Gibraltar between 711 and 1309 and between 1350 and 1462. The Tower of Homage remains from an original castle complex that once stretched to the sea. The structure's outside walls bear the scars of conflicts during the many sieges on the peninsula. The Gibraltar Museum, which provides a historical overview of the town, includes well-preserved Moorish baths in the museum basement. The baths were built in the 14th century.


Gibraltar is home to a network of limestone caves in the town's Upper Rock Nature Reserve. It's used for concerts and plays.


Gibraltar gets a number of visitors on port calls from cruise ships. You can also fly directly to Gibraltar from various British airports, or walk or drive across the border from Spain. The Spanish city of Malaga is about 140km away.

Most visitors get their sightseeing done on foot but there are taxis.

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