Gibraltar’s Captivating Historical Timeline
Gibraltar, the tiny rock between Spain and Africa, never ceases to amaze with how much extraordinary history it beholds from prehistoric Neanderthal times to the present. Many of its historical significances are still prevalent and evident to see today.
In the Ice Age era, the sea level of Gibraltar would have been much lower. Most of the water we see surrounding the land today was once locked up in the ice caps at the North and South Pole.
Whilst most of prehistoric Europe was a habitat to wild cats, wolves and hyenas roaming the lands, the barren woodlands of Gibraltar became home to Neanderthals more than 50,000 years ago. It is also thought to be the last place they lived before dying out 24,000 years ago. The first Neanderthal skull in Gibraltar was discovered at Forbes' Quarry in 1848, by a British Navy Officer.
The woman’s skull sat in a cupboard for many years whilst no-one realised its importance and is now on display in the Gibraltar Museum. A child Neanderthal skull was later unearthed at a nearby spot in 1926.
How Gibraltar Got Its Name
Gibraltar’s name was derived from a Muslim leader, Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711. The Muslim general accidentally landed on the Rock after failing to land at Algeciras and named the Rock Gabal-Al-Tariq, meaning Mountain of Tariq. Gibraltar remained under Muslim rule for many centuries before Spanish forces captured it in 1462. British Rule commenced in the early 18th century.
A Lump of Jurassic Limestone
The Gibraltar rock is a monolithic limestone measuring 3 miles long and 466 yards tall. It was once referred to as one of the Pillars of Hercules and although the Romans visited Gibraltar, they never settled here.
The rock today contains a labyrinth of secret tunnels, which served to protect Second World War soldiers from German firing. The Great North Road and Peterborough Chambers are some of the named passageways inside the tunnel, a number of them named after British towns.
Underground Cable Connections To Cornwall And India
There is an underground cable that runs from Cornwall to Gibraltar and onwards to Malta, with submarine connections reaching as far as India. Arriving on the Porthcurno coast of South East Cornwall, not far from Lands End, you can witness the cables peeping out of the sands whilst they connect to a cable station dating back to 1870. Porthcurno is steeped in history and visiting this magical beach next door to the outdoor Minack Theatre truly invigorates a nostalgic vibe.
A century later, the cable stations closed after serving as a significant location for communication. It was also heavily guarded during the World Wars by brave infantry.
Refuelling on Welsh Coal
In the 1880s, ships would stop in Gibraltar to refuel on imported Welsh coal. This coal would be shovelled onto the vessels by coal heavers who were recruited from Malta.
Tea Rooms Everywhere . . .
In 1935, the Daily Telegraph's correspondent, Harry Buckley, described Gibraltar as a ‘strange place’….’Tea rooms everywhere. Steak and kidney pudding, with the temperature at ninety in the shade….a small transplanted bit of England’
Gibraltar Defeated Hitler
According to the Hitler-Bormann documents published in 1959, Hitler could never understand why he failed to conquer Gibraltar in the Summer of 1940. If Hitler had succeeded in expelling the British from Gibraltar, he would have easily occupied the Azores, Cape Verde Islands and Canaries thereafter.
It’s easy to see why this colossal rock has drawn so much attention over the centuries and why so many have fought to capture it. Even today, Gibraltar continues to capture so much attention for its multitude of industries, such as Online Gaming, Fintech, Cryptocurrency and more. There is truly something magnificent and splendid about this large rock that protrudes out like a symbol of success, almost trophy-like.