Since cheap holiday packages became available in the 1970’s the Costa del Sol in southern Spain has been a favourite with British travellers. With easy connections and great value for money, backed up by a warm and sunny climate, it’s the perfect destination for a week or two in the sun.
But amongst the holiday apartments, water parks, restaurants and beaches there are great historic sights within easy reach if you want to explore.
Jutting out from the southern most tip of Spain is the unique British enclave of Gibraltar. Affectionately known as Gib or the Rock to its residents and regular visitors the Rock stands at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea making it an important Naval Base for centuries. The Rock can be seen for miles as you drive down the coast, jutting out to sea and hiding a myriad of secret sites to investigate.
The rock itself rising above the port and town famous for its duty free shopping is the centre of the cultural and historical sites and local firms offer tours to all the important areas for an inclusive price. There is also a cable car, which takes guests to the top of the rock but getting around is more restricted on foot.
Protecting the port.
Halfway up is an 8th century Moorish castle, housing a prison in its keep to this day. Tour drivers will chart the history of the flag that flies over the castle and its changes from Spanish to British over the years. Miles of Siege Tunnels used to house barracks and military lookouts are carved deep into the rock and those open to the public chart their use during military conflicts over the centuries.
Nature on show.
Naturally formed limestone caves crowded with stalactites and stalagmites can be visited at St Michaels Caves. The larger caverns were used as a hospital in the world wars and are used as classical concert venues today. The amazing formations are beautifully lit so your photographs will capture the wonder of the sight.
Gibraltar is the only place in Europe where Barbary Apes they can be found. They roam free and are incredibly bold providing a lot of entertainment, running and jumping onto fences, walls and roofs including those of the tour buses and cars. Take heed to the warnings however, these are wild animals and could harm you if you feed them or go too near them when they are nursing their young.
Back on the Costa instead of just using Malaga as your airport venue, its well worth having a day in the town to explore the historic sites. A settlement since Phoenician and Roman times and the capital of Moorish Granada, Malaga is alive with history and sites include the old Moorish Castle or Alcazaba built between the 8th and 11th century. The site was originally the location for a roman amphitheatre, partially excavated by the entrance. The ruins of later Moorish Castle from the 14th Century stand directly behind the Alcazaba. For a complete history of the area visit Museo Arqueologico for displays of Phoenician, Roman and Moorish artifacts.
Linda Endersby is a freelance writer who worked in the travel industry for 19 years and enjoys writing about the places she’s visited as well as indulging in her passion for books in her other role as a children’s bookseller.