From Ronda we took the stunningly scenic railway down to Algeciras. Known as the gateway to Morocco
Algeciras has an ugly and untidy feel, but the town offer to the traveller good facilities to further continue the trip. From Algeciras we continued west to Tarifa then on to Cadiz following the scenic coastal route of Costa da Luz but not before visiting
Gibraltar. In the 1400s the famous Rock was a Moorish castle, conquered by the Spanish only to lost to England after the War of the Spanish Succession. The rock rises to 450 metres at its peak and guards the entrance to the Mediterranean. |
The bus from Algesiras dropped us at La Linea de la Concepcion where, leaved apart the choice of a guided tour, we continued on our own. First attraction is to go trough the operational airport runway that crosses your way to the city, here cars airplanes and pedestrians cross each other. To go to the top of the rock there is a cable car that runs to at the
Ape's Den. Located on the site of a World War II gun emplacement here you have the rare opportunity to see the Barbary Apes one of the major symbols of Gibraltar, native of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and first introduced to the rock in the 18th century. From this spot one has uninterrupted views southwards across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa, across the polluted Bay of Algeciras, and the blue expanse of the Mediterranean. You also get a good view here of the Trafalgar Cemetery of British sailors who died at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Birdwatching can be undertaken in spring and autumn, when thousands of migrating birds on their way between their breeding grounds in northern Europe and their wintering areas in Africa stop at the Rock. Owls, eagles, harriers, hoopoes, buzzards and black kites join resident species such as Peregrine falcons and Barbary partridge. A large area of the upper rock has been declared a nature reserve.
From the Rock we went down to the city negotiating the Mediterranean Steps a frightening path that descends the rocky eastern shear cliff with dizzy heights over the deep blue sea that from here seems very far away. The path conditions are so miserable that we were the only people descending to town this way and I wouldnít suggest to do the same to everybody. The path goes all around the rock and at the end takes you at Europa Point with the famous monument of one of the
"Pillars of Hercules" the other pillar is Mt Atlas across the strait in Morocco.
From here a winding car road takes you to the Alameda Botanic Gardens. Created in 1816 outside of the city walls in a picturesque location with specimens from Mediterranean and from sub-tropical areas. Of special interest is the collection of cacti. Some grave stones of the former graveyard are dotted around, other sights include canons stone gates and gun emplacements.
Main Street with its adjoining lanes and byways, all of which has been pedestrianised is a big duty free shopping centre and like in all duty free shopís we did not buy anything. Casemates Square is a large open space with cafes and bars, many small shop units are now housed in the former military buildings around the square.