Stand Atop The Rock Of Gibraltar! Who Knew There Were Monkeys? My “Wanderlust” To Climb The “Pillars Of Hercules!”

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!”

Categories: Exotic Travel, nature, Pop Culture, Real Estate, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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36 replies

  1. I remember this post, John. It’s just as amazing the second time around. Happy New Year.


  2. Wow! You should be a travel agent. I definitely want to get there someday. The monkeys are fascinating. It made me think of one of my all-time favorite children’s books—Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    Thinking of all the places I want to explore when the world re-opens…like the Rock Of Gibraltar! Have you been? Let me know and here’s to a healthier 2021 for the world!


  4. I remember visiting Gibraltar many years ago when I was a child and the monkeys are what I remember most! They are crazy and have such nerve in how they take things from people that are not careful! Love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like a great place to visit, although I might have to practice my stair climbing beforehand.


  6. You will love Gibraltar we visited a couple of times many years ago,,, Those underground caverns are awesome and the war stories that go with it. The views if you take the chair lift are amazing..That runway though is one of the smallest I have seen I wouldn’t want to be on the plane that drops in on that..too scary for me we walked across from the mainland…Great tax-free shopping as well as lovely leather goods 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You had wonderful weather. I was always unlucky with the weather when I visited Gibraltar. My parents lived a short distance from the apes. I wrote about Gibraltar’s history here

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We saw one of these monkeys grab a candy bar off of one of the patrons, dash off to the edge, unwrap the wrapping like they’ve done it a hundred times (probably has…), and eat the candy 🙂 Those monkeys are really something!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a spectacular view! I am definitely adding this to my list too. A friend of mine visited Gibraltar and a monkey pulled her shirt down – rascals!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This looks like an amazing place to see John. I am not surprised you have added it to your list of places to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I did a report on the monkeys way back in 4th grade and I’ve had this on my bucket list ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I knew abut the monkeys, but not about the tunnels.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great place to visit! Maybe I’ll start with Theroux’s book! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think i’d like to hike up that too!
    I did know about the monkeys, but that just makes it sound even more fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Although I have never been there, those Barbary Apes are well-known in Britain. And the antics they get up to with tourists. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Peru’s Gateway To The Amazon! A Trip To Iquitos! #Wanderlust! Four Amazing Places In The World To Explore! – johnrieber
  2. The Rock Of Guatape! Gibraltar! “Stairway To Heaven!” #TravelBlogTuesday Has The World’s Wildest Climbs – Straight Up! – johnrieber
  3. Climbing The Rock Of Guatape! Scaling “Angel’s Landing”! A Wild “Stairway To Heaven!” The World’s Wildest Hikes – Straight Up! – johnrieber

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