The Rock of Gibraltar is a geological marvel located in the British territory of Gibraltar, on the Iberian Peninsula. This magnificent monolith is the property of the United Kingdom, located at the southwestern tip of Europe. It also serves as part of the border with Spain. Much of the upper cliff forms a nature reserve which, along with the flora, fauna and geology of the region, is a popular tourist attraction. The place became known as one of the Pillars of Hercules and the Romans called it Mons Calpe.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a huge headland made up mostly of limestone. It also forms a peninsula that extends into the Strait of Gibraltar. Due to the limestone composition, parts of the rock slowly dissolve over time due to the action of water. This process often forms caves. In the case of the Rock of Gibraltar, there are over 100 caves. St. Michael’s Cave remains the most famous and also the area’s biggest attraction. The monolith reaches 426 meters in height.
Rock of Gibraltar Nature Reserve
As of 1993, approximately 40% of the total area of the Rock of Gibraltar is now a nature reserve, and much of the flora and fauna found there is still important for conservation. The most famous of these remain the Barbary Macaque, which has a population of 300 individuals within the reserve — this is the only known population of wild monkeys in Europe. Other endemic species of considerable interest are the Barbary partridge and plant species such as the Gibriltar Iberis. The Rock of Gibraltar also serves as a major resting place for large populations of migratory birds.
Neanderthal remains have been found at several sites in Gibraltar. In 1848, the skull of a Neanderthal woman was found in the Forbes Quarry, located on the north side of the Rock. However, its significance was not recognized until the type specimen was discovered in 1856 in the Neander Valley. Excavations at Gorham’s Cave, near sea level on the east side of the Rock, provide evidence that the caves were used by Neanderthals, and the plant and animal remains in the cave testify to the highly varied diet of prehistoric humans.
You can also admire the dramatic sea cliffs in a separate feed on LifeGlobe.