Climbing The “Pillars Of Hercules!”
Whenever people ask me “where do you want to go next?”, I end up rattling off a half dozen of my “must see” places. But, reading a book recently, I now must add the “Pillars Of Hercules” to the list!
The Rock of Gibraltar, also known as “The Rock”, is a monolithic limestone promontory located in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, rising 1,398 ft above the Mediterranean.
I decided to do some more research to find out what makes this rock unique – and there is a lot to share!
First of all, I had no idea that most of the Rock’s upper area is a nature reserve, home to around 300 Barbary macaques.
Yes, the rock has Monkeys!
As you can see behind the Monkey, the Rock of Gibraltar technically sits in a British Overseas Territory. The Rock has served as a strategic military fortress for as far back as 1000BC, and is one-half of the Pillars of Hercules, a term that originates in Greek mythology and refers to The Rock and a corresponding mountain on the other side of the Mediterranean in North Africa. The Pillars of Hercules, on either side of the Straights of Gibraltar, are the gateway from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Here’s what it looks like from outer space!
Ready To Hike To The Top?
I would love to take a hike up this rock – from the start of Mediterranean Steps trail, it’s just under a mile to the top, with an elevation gain of 780 ft.
And worth every steps for the spectacular views…
As one website noted, the trail is rocky with large steps at times; they say that shoes with good traction are a must!
Oh, along with a hike to the top, how about a trip INSIDE?
Step Inside “The Rock!”
Yes, another thing I discovered: the rock has a system of underground passages, known as the Galleries or the Great Siege Tunnels!
The Galleries were originally created in 1797, and are a whole system of halls, embrasures, and passages, and they are open to the public!
And As For Those Monkeys….
Now, back to those Monkeys…where did they come from?
They are called “Barbary Macaques” and there are several theories about how they got to the rock: they may have originally escaped when originally transported to Spain; it is also possible that the original Gibraltar macaques are a remnant of populations that are known to have spread throughout Southern Europe during the Pliocene, up to 5.5 million years ago!
And yes, they know you have food or items of interest!
Like Monkeys everywhere, they know you have something of value and they are not afraid to come and get it!
I need to take in the view from one half of the “pillars of Hercules”, especially now that I’ve read this terrific book!
Paul Theroux is, to me, the greatest travel Writer ever, and this book is his journey completely around the Mediterranean, starting at the Rock and ending in North Africa…see more about this great book here:
You probably remember that I just featured another incredible hike as well:
How about hiking to the top of the rock of Guatape?” Click here to see where this incredible natural wonder is located:
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Leave me a comment with your thoughts on these incredible “pillars of Hercules!”