St Michael’s Cave, Gibraltar
August 28, 2012
Guest post by Jennifer Garcia.
If you’re heading into Gibraltar during your visit to the Costa del Sol, then a visit to St Michael’s Cave is highly recommended!
Gibraltar is 130 km away from your Malaga Airport and it’s very straightforward to get to if you follow the A7 or AP7 to La Linea, where you can park your car and then walk across the border on to Gibraltar. Just don’t forget your passport!
St Michael’s Cave is an incredibly beautiful network of limestone caves positioned right at the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. It is located within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and there are a few different ways to reach it. Perhaps the easiest way to get into the Nature Reserve is by taking a Rock Tour with one of the taxi drivers stationed near the Spanish border. Your driver will take you to all the top sights, and provide a running commentary en-route.
Alternatively, you can take the cable car up to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Buy a return ticket on the cable car or just buy a single ticket up and walk down at your leisure. You also need to buy a ticket to enter the Nature Reserve.
The caves are 300 metres above sea level so before you enter, take a moment to enjoy the amazing view across the Bay of Gibraltar. It’s breathtaking. Around 1.000.000 visitors per year enter St Michael’s Cave, either having a look around or enjoying a concert there. It is one of Gibraltar’s most popular tourist attractions.
The lighting has been arranged to very good effect inside the cave in order to highlight the dramatic stalactites and stalagmites which have formed naturally over the years. Water has seeped through the limestone over the centuries forming an acid which dissolves the rock. This has created the caves and passages which link them. The stalactites and stalagmites are effectively a buildup of the dissolved rock deposits.
One very large stalagmite became so overbalanced on one side that it fell over many centuries ago. Today it is still positioned where it fell and so visitors can get a really great look at its cross-section and understand how it built up over time.
It has been proved that the caves date back to prehistoric man although they have played an important role many times since. In Moorish times, when Tariq ibn Ziyad led his Umayyad Conquest of Hispania in 711 AD, the caves were used as a military base. Spanish forces hid in them in the 18th century and, in more recent times, the cave was adapted as a field hospital for use during the Second World War.
St Michael’s Cave is a fascinating tourist attraction. Pay a visit during the day and learn all about its history and creation as well as the legends which surround it. Or buy tickets to one of the many events held there to see it in a completely different light. Regular events include musical recitals, Miss Gibraltar beauty pageant, orchestral concerts, operas and rock concerts.
For more information, check out the Gibraltar website gibraltarinfo.gi.
Jennifer Garcia was born in Gibraltar and has lived there all of her life. She is currently writing about Gibraltar airport, compiling a useful guide for those travelling through the airport.