The one with all the monkeys

Gibraltar is an interesting little place. I’ve often heard people say that they’re going on vacation to “Spain and Gibraltar.” But until my friend Chris asked me if I wanted to go to Gibraltar with her, I had no idea what (or where) Gibraltar was. Presumably, near Spain.

Well, I was right about that. It is near Spain. In fact, it’s practically in Spain (in a purely spatial sense). It’s not part of Spain, though. It is its own little country. Sort of. It’s actually a “British overseas territory.” So it’s British. Mostly.

Confused yet?

They use the pound. They speak English. They love being British. They fly the Union Jack proudly. They love them some football. They serve fish and chips and jacket potatoes in pubs. They have a Marks & Spencer’s!

The border and the Rock of Gibraltar, by me

It’s an entire country in one city. The airport runway (yes, it has an airport!) can be walked or driven across. There are four bus lines. There are about 30,000 people. You can’t take a bus in from Spain. You have to get off outside of Gibraltar, walk over the border and show them your passport (sadly no stamp though!).

The airport runway, by me

And they have monkeys. The only monkeys in Europe! There are over 200 of them, and they live on top of the Rock of Gibraltar, mostly. They’re tagged, fed and kept by a vet and the government. Apparently they’re like the Tower of London ravens. The legend goes that if the monkeys ever disappear from Gibraltar, it will signal the end of British rule over the area. This greatly concerns the British, so much so that Winston Churchill had their stocks replenished after the Second World War.

Monkeys, by me

From the top of the Rock of Gibraltar you can see the Pillars of Hercules, also know as the Strait of Gibraltar. The smallest passage between Europe and Africa. You can see the south most point in Europe on one side and Morocco on the other.

The Strait of Gibraltar, by me

On one side of Gibraltar is the Atlantic. On the other is the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean, by me

Because of this geography, Gibraltar was an important place historically. That’s why the British own it. That’s why they want to keep it. That’s why the Spanish want it back.

But it’s a beautiful place. It’s a friendly, multicultural city that draws it’s population from Spain, Britain, Africa and all of the world. It has a mosques, a temple, a synagogue, a cathedral and some churches. It’s pretty cool.

And if you’re like me and can’t speak any Spanish, Italian, Greek or Arabic… it’s a city on the Mediterranean where the principle language is English!

Also, they have monkeys.

Me with a monkey on my shoulder, by Christine Sweeton

11 Comments

  • By Shaun, February 24, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

    Awwwww who knew there was a cuter picture than the 3 monkeys?
    I really hope I can go travelling like you guys one day its sucky staying at work while you all jet off places :(

  • By Laura, February 24, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

    That monkey has death in his eyes. You are so lucky to have made it out alive.

  • By Chandra, February 24, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

    LOVE the picture with you and the monkey! It’s funny that you leave England to travel to a place like England…it would make it feel like home :)

  • By Bill Cody, February 24, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

    Hi Heather: What a fantastic trip you are having! Remind me though, is that you on the left or the right?

    ha ha ha ha ha!!! Seriously though, you’ll remember this trip for a lifetime. Good on you, girl!

  • By Eleni, February 24, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Wow, I feel so ignorant–I never realized there was territory down there that didn’t belong to Spain. Sounds like an awesome place to visit. They speak English, are on the Mediterranean Sea, and have monkeys. And the monkeys climb on your shoulder?! What more could a tourist ask for?

  • By Christine Sweeton *The Chris*, March 1, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    Gibralter rocks!! (Oh, please don’t think that is a pun.) Hope you write a post about “The Hostal” since I need to link to it from my blog when I do Spain Highlights. I will probably link to this too. Thanks for coming with me, I had a great time. Really miss you!!!

  • By Sebastian, March 4, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

    Aw, they’re cute :)

    I’ve been to Gibraltar once, and I thought it was kinda dirty and smelly — I guess from the density of all the amenities they need there for such few people.

    Never knew they had monkeys either!

  • By Hezabelle, March 4, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

    Whatever did you see in Gibraltar if you didn’t see the monkeys..? That’s pretty much the point of going to Gibraltar.

  • By Iva, April 9, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

    those monkeys are soooo cute!

  • By testing, November 30, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    Testing status update across Twitter/Facebook. … Testing status update across Twitter/Facebook 11:55 AM Jul 18th

Other Links to this Post

  1. Gibraltar News : Anglers, between a rock and a hard place; why Set Up Business in Gibraltar? « Online Trading Platforms Blog — February 25, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

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