Visible to all visitors of Gibraltar, the peninsula’s most prominent landmark stands tall against the sky. This incredible construction – thought to have been built in the eighth century – is a popular tourist attraction. Until 2010, some parts were even used to house prisoners at Her Majesty’s pleasure – a testimony to how complete and intact the castle is today.
With cheap flights to Gibraltar all the rage across the internet, the peninsula has become a tourist hotspot over the past decade. And with good reason – the area is rich in history but retains a British-inspired culture thanks to its English sovereignty. However, few who pass through the imposing gates of the Moorish Castle know quite what to expect unless they’ve been before. Here’s a short guide so you can get a good idea of whether you fancy a visit.
Gibraltar’s Moorish castle is situated in the centre of the island atop a mountain known as the Rock. It’s been essential to various peoples throughout the ages, with Neanderthals, the Spanish and the Moors all rushing to occupy it at some point because of its strategic importance. The castle complex itself is made up of an extensive collection of buildings, and although it’s impossible to know what was built at which point in time, historians believe much of the area was reconstructed in the 14th century. Visitors will note the Tower of Homage, easily the most prominent section, which pays tribute to both the Christian and Muslim communities that occupied it at one time or another. It’s definitely worth wandering around inside and up to the top battlements where you can see the cannons. You’ll also be privileged enough to witness a splendid view, sweeping all the way down to the sea.
Much of the Rock is taken up by the castle, with the walls enclosing a huge area around the Tower of Homage. It is thought this was the case in order to protect townspeople, who would have withdrawn inside in times of turbulence. If you can, make time to experience the full grand tour for visitors and walk the same steps that people of the 14th century would have taken. Particular highlights include the dramatic gatehouse – which many people describe as ‘iconic’ of the castle and indeed of Gibraltar itself.
Outside the castle
While the castle grounds are extensive, it’s worth having a look at the areas located just beyond the gate, where the Old Town and original dockyards rest against the Rock. Remember that while Gibraltar has immensely strong ties with the British way of life, it’s very much its own area, and the incredible variety of cultures on display is just one of the reasons it has become so easy to book a flight to the destination. Click here to find out more about getting yourself over there.
Witness the gorgeous Islamic architecture that is characteristic of the island – so lovingly protected for future generations by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust – before dropping into a convenient pub and enjoying a well-earned drink.