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Gibraltar

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Gibraltar Coastline

Gibraltar Coastline

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Trinity Lighthouse

Trinity Lighthouse

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The Rock

The Rock

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The Rock of today is a bizarre anomaly of Moorish, Spanish, and—especially—British influences. There are double-decker buses, "bobbies" in helmets, and red mailboxes. Millions of pounds have been spent in developing its tourist potential, and a steady flow of expat Brits comes here from Spain to shop at Morrisons supermarket and other stores. This tiny British colony—nicknamed "Gib" or simply "the Rock"—whose impressive silhouette dominates the strait between Spain and Morocco, was one of the two Pillars of Hercules in ancient times, marking the western limits of the known world and commanding the narrow pathway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Moors, headed by Tariq ibn Ziyad, seized the peninsula in 711, preliminary to the conquest of Spain. The Spaniards recaptured Tariq's Rock in 1462. The English, heading an Anglo-Dutch fleet in the War of the Spanish Succession, gained control in 1704, and, after several years of local skirmishes, Gibraltar was finally ceded to Great Britain in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. Spain has been trying to get it back ever since. In 1779 a combined French and Spanish force laid siege to the Rock for three years to no avail. During the Napoleonic Wars, Gibraltar served as Admiral Horatio Nelson's base for the decisive naval Battle of Trafalgar, and during the two world wars, it served the Allies well as a naval and air base. In 1967 Franco closed the land border with Spain to strengthen his claims over the colony, and it remained closed until 1985.There are likely few places in the world that you enter by walking or driving across an airport runway, but that's what happens in Gibraltar. First you show your passport; then you make your way out onto the narrow strip of land linking Spain's La Linea with Britain's Rock. Unless you have a good reason to take your car—such as loading up on cheap gas or duty-free goodies—you're best off leaving it in a guarded parking area in La Linea, the Spanish border town. Don't bother hanging around here; it's a seedy place. In Gibraltar you can hop on buses and take taxis that expertly maneuver the narrow, congested streets. The Official Rock Tour—conducted either by minibus or, at a greater cost, taxi—takes about 90 minutes and includes all the major sights, allowing you to choose where to come back and linger later.In 2013, tensions between Gibraltar and Spain ramped up yet again, and as a result, lines for leaving the colony, both via car and on foot, are long—it can take up to three hours to cross the border into Spain. This is likely to continue, as there’s little sign of any progress on any sort of joint Anglo-Spanish sovereignty, which the majority of Gibraltarians fiercely oppose.When you call Gibraltar from Spain or another country, prefix the seven-digit telephone number with 00–350. Gibraltar’s currency is the Gibraltar pound (£), whose exchange rate is the same as the British pound. Euros are accepted everywhere, although you will get a better exchange rate if you use pounds.

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Things You Can't Miss

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Gaze at Africa
Gaze at Africa

Take a cable car to the top of 1,398-foot Rock of Gibraltar at Spain’s southern tip for sweeping views of the Mediterranean and adjacent Morocco.

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Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

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Mind the Monkey Business
Mind the Monkey Business

You can’t leave the rock without watching the mischievous primates roam freely (look for lots in the Apes’ Den area). Hold tight to your valuables!

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Getty Images

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Tour the Tunnels
Tour the Tunnels

See why this British territory stood strong through years of strife: Visit the World War II and Great Siege Tunnels blasted in the Rock’s limestone.

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Image Credit

UIG/Getty Images

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5 Tips for Taking Vacation Photos

Use these digital photography tips to take great vacation photos on every trip.

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Where the British Flag Flies
Where the British Flag Flies

The Moorish Castle Complex atop the Rock dates back to the 11th century. Today, a strategically placed tower and fortified walls remain.

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Getty Images

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How to Stay Safe on a Cruise Ship

Taking responsibility for your own safety, follow these tips for a safe cruise ship vacation.

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Let’s Get Geological
Let’s Get Geological

Marvel at the vastness of St. Michael’s Cave, and attend a concert in adjacent Cathedral Cave, whose walls resemble a pipe organ.

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Getty Images

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8 Great Mediterranean Cruises

Check out these eight exciting new Mediterranean cruises with offerings such as gourmet cuisine, cultural tours and classes, and exotic locales.

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