Gibraltar is the famous headland guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean. Connected to Spain to the north and with Morocco to the south across the Straits, it is dominated by 'the Rock', a towering 1,396 ft sentinel that guards the Straits, called by the Arabs' Gebel el Tarik or Tarik's Rock. Resolutely British for nearly 300 years, its unique setting unites the oddly familiar - from the helmeted policemen to Marks & Spencer - with an extrovert Mediterranean mood. Test the shops and pubs in Main Street and Irish Town or take a cable-car to enjoy the grandstand views to nearby Africa. You can also visit St Michael's Cave, the Siege Tunnels and, of course, those famous Barbary apes.
In ancient times the rock of Gibraltar, and its counterpart on the African side, Mt. Abyla, were known as the Pillars of Hercules. In AD 711, the Moors landed here under their General Tarik, who named the rock Jebel al-Tarik, which in course of time became Gibraltar. In 1462 Spain recovered Gibraltar from the Arabs, but during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704, it was taken by British troops and under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 it was formally assigned to Britain although ownership has been a matter for discussion between Spain and Britain ever since.
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