“This isn’t Spain,” my DIL told me.  We had driven from the home of my son and his wife in Puerto de Santa Maria on the Atlantic Coast in Spain, along the Straights of Gibraltar, to the rock made famous by an insurance company.

One of the Pillars of Hercules which marked the westernmost edge of the Classical World, Gibraltar has existed through recorded time. Owing to its importance as a shipping channel, the area has seen many naval battles.

Seized by the British when they defeated Napoleon’s Empire at Cape Trafalgar, today it elects to remain a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

But southern Spain and Cape Gibraltar have a prehistory.  Here our paleoancestors hunted, and Cape Gibraltar, the source of valuable fossils was probably the last redoubt of the Neanderthals 100,000 years ago, according to Clive Finlayson. 

The area of sea before the rock in the photo above was once a grassland filled with grazing animals during the last ice age. Today, water covers the openings to the ‘city’ of Neanderthal caves in the Rock of Gibraltar.

Scientists think the channel to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean arose violently, long after the limestone barrier formed by  collision of the continents of Africa and Europe (thus blocking the Mediterranean) formed. 

When the ice melted and the sea rose, the limestone dissolved leaving remnants of the former wall at Gibraltar in Europe. (see Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History, by William Ryan.)  Along our drive from the East I could see the remnants of the limestone wall across the channel in Africa. (See header photo above) 


Mad about ships since I was a girl poring over the pages of illustrations in my Dad’s Book of Old Ships, I had heard and read about Trafalgar all my life. For example, Jane Austen mentions the Trafalgar action in her book Persuasion.

David and I visited Trafalgar Square in London and saw the Nelson column covered with pigeons. Later, I visited the maritime museum at Greenwich to see the miniature replica of Nelson’s ship, and the Tate to see Turner’s Temeraire and other ghostly ships. 

Nelson died at Trafalgar and his men shipped his body to England in a wine barrel.  Today, all over Gibraltar merchants sell a port wine called ‘Nelson’s blood.’ 

The British buried many of the casualties of the battle of Trafalgar on Gibraltar.



8 thoughts on “Gibraltar

  1. As usual, your post is a smorgasbord of interesting history. I have been to Gibraltar. Just had to see those monkeys for myself.

    Do you mean to tell me that the seas once rose and it wasn’t due to alleged man made global warming? Does Algore know about this?

    I also visited Trafalgar but failed to take good pictures as you did. Also went to Portsmouth to go aboard the HMS Victory.

    I disagree about the Neanderthals “last stand”. I have it on good authority that several thousand were spotted around Charlotte, NC just recently. Maybe they are there to make a Geico commercial.


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