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Gibraltar: Caves and Cradle of Humanity

5 March 2018

One of the most awe-inspiring sights in the world must be the view of the sun setting over the horizon from inside the Rock of Gibraltar. But it is when you stand at the spot so popular among photographers that it suddenly dawns on you that this is what some of the earliest humans saw when they looked out to sea from Gibraltar. Like the tourists that visit the Rock nowadays, these people, safe inside their cave complex, looked out and wondered at the beauty of nature and the world beyond.

Gibraltar is visited by thousands of tourists every year, as well as business people, holidaymakers, day-trippers, students travelling Europe on their gap year and people looking to relocate to the Mediterranean. Tourists in particular, flock to Gibraltar’s modern, vibrant shops where they can take advantage of superb, duty-free shopping. They enjoy a meal in one of Gibraltar’s fine restaurants; they take tours around the Rock, learning about Gibraltar’s long history and it’s beautiful flora and fauna; they refresh themselves at the beaches and they partake of many of the sporting and adventure or cultural activities on offer. There is always something going on at the Rock of Gibraltar to appeal to people from miles and miles around.

And yet Gibraltar is also an ancient place, a place that has appealed to peoples for millennia. Perhaps because it is located at the tip of one continent and within reach of another, or because explorers travelling from east to west must sail close by its shores. Or perhaps there is something eminently mysterious and breathtakingly beautiful about the Rock, as much from the inside as from the outside, that has drawn people here since the dawn of time.

The Gorham’s Cave complex was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2016 and since then it has attracted thousands of visitors as well as scientific and research interest from all over the world. The cluster of sea caves sit at sea level and contain evidence of Neanderthal and early modern occupation spanning approximately 120,000 years.

Tourists can view the caves and enjoy that special feeling of being in touch with humanity’s most ancient route by exploring the landscape around the caves. There are walks, including the challenging Mediterranean Steps, and views of the site from Europa Advanced Viewing Platforms, introduced to the site just last year and providing information on the Site for visitors. Tourists can also book tours of the caves through the Gibraltar Museum and also special boat trips to view the World Heritage Site from the sea.

To look up at Gorham’s Cave and the neighbouring Vanguard Cave from a boat is impressive and unforgettable. And this is possibly one of the views of Gibraltar that will have been experienced by its earliest of visitors.

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