After two months of staying in Spain, we finally reached the southernmost parts of Europe. One of them is Gibraltar, a small city-state under the domination of Great Britain, inhabited by barely 30,000 residents. From this place, we started our tour last week. In addition, we visited the Spanish cities of Algeciras and Tarifa.
Especially the second one is interesting, because the Isla des Las Palomas located there divides the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean Sea and at the same time is the southernmost point of Europe.
However we start from Gibraltar. We stopped only a few kilometers from him, by the sea. Visible in the background, it is the Upper Rock and Rock of Gibraltar at whose foot the city lies.
On Gibraltar, after crossing border control, you enter … through the airport runway, which intersects the main street leading to the center – Winston Churchill Avenue. At the time of departures and arrivals the street is closed for several minutes. Fortunately, this happens only a few times a day.
We are already at Winston Churchill Avenue and we are looking towards La Linea – a Spanish city on the other side of the border.
Thanks to two-story buses you can immediately feel like in London or one of the former British colonies.
We are approaching the center of Gibraltar. We enter one of the gates on Main Street. The street leads through the center of the old city center.
The street is full of multinational passers-by. In addition to 30,000 natives, mainly of British, Spanish, Italian and Arab origin, there are 10 million tourists annually.
After passing the crowded city center, we reach the botanical garden located on the Upper Rock slopes. We can observe the typical Mediterranean flora here.
There is no shortage of insects, such as bees, which live specially prepared for them (and for visitors) beehives …
… or butterflies that do nothing about the close presence of people photographing them.
The Gibraltar crest on one of the lawns in the botanical garden. This is the sign that appears on the white and red flag of the country.
We are already approaching, in our opinion the most interesting southern ends of the country. On the way, walking along Europa Road, we see the seaport in Gibraltar. The nearby bay, dominated by the huge transhipment port in Algeciras, is full of ships that leave the land every now and then either towards the Mediterranean Sea, through the Strait of Gibraltar, towards the Atlantic Ocean.
After some time, we see the mosque of Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim, which dominates the other buildings of this part of Gibraltar. His minaret definitely surpasses the nearby tower of the Christian church, as well as the lighthouse situated on the promontory.
We look at the beautifully covered, southern slopes of Upper Rock.
After passing the mosque, we reach the monument to the memory of General Władysław SIkorski, prime minister and head of the armed forces of the Polish government in exile, who tragically died in Gibraltar during the 1943 aviation disaster. The monument commemorates the entire Polish-English crew of a dozen or so who died during this unlucky flight.
To the left of the monument is the aforementioned lighthouse.
From the lighthouse, we look north. Against the background of the Upper Rock and Rock of Gibraltar rocks, the huge Ibrahim mosque stands out.
The last glance at the Mediterranean. The outline of the land visible in the background is already only a dozen kilometers away, Africa.
We spent the next day in Tarifa, the southernmost corner of Europe. The isla Isla des Las Palomas, located here, separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. Visiting the city and the surrounding area can be felt in the wind, temperature or level of cloudiness, depending on which side of the city we are. Generally a better climate is characterized by the Mediterranean side.
After 2 months from sticking the flag of Spain, the time has come for another „capture” the flag of the city-state Gibraltar. Visible behind the back door under the flags of Poland, Germany, France and Spain.
Isla des Las Palomas is connected to the mainland by an artificial dam on which you can easily walk. On the left we can already see the Atlantic Ocean, which flooded practically the entire beach with its waves.
On the right side, the Mediterranean part. A different shade of water and clouds is visible, as if less.
A tiled map on one of the houses showing what exactly we see from the place where we stand. The Moroccan coast of Africa is only 20 kilometers away.
And indeed, if we look in the direction indicated, we will see a ferry departing just to Moroccan Tangier.
A bit to the left of the lighthouse, in the Mediterranean part of the bay, there is a sea port in Tarifa.
Not far from one of two main sea port gates the biggest monument of the city is located – Castillo de Guzman el Bueno. The fortress built at the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries by the Moors. That occupied area played a significant role in the strengthening of the Caliphate on the Iberian Peninsula and in subsequent wars for the reclamation of these areas by the Spaniards.
In front of the castle is the monument of Sancho IV the Brave, the king of Castile and Leon, who in 1292 took Tarifa and contributed to the subsequent denial of Muslim influences from these areas.
Tarifa, like other cities in the orbit of ancient Arabian influence, is characterized by a uniform, coherent building in which white dominates. The city center is built up with small, 2-3 storey houses, many of which probably remember the times of medieval battles for the city.
From the vicinity of the castle hill, we look at the panorama of the center of Tarifa with the tower of the church of San Mateo Apostol towering over it.
Goats, in the company of a black dog spread on the ground, seem to be accustomed to the presence of people in this area.
We are again in the center of Tarifa and look at the façade of San Mateo Apostol seen from the distance.
The next day we went to Algeciras, over a hundred-thousand-strong city located roughly halfway between Tarifa and Gibraltar. The city is one of the largest seaports in this part of Europe. Filled with thousands of containers and dozens of cranes, the wharf extends practically along the entire city.
The center of Algeciras is a bit far from the shore and is located on a small hill. The main square of the city is decorated with Christmas decorations. Tiled lamps and benches are added to the charm, another element of the Arab legacy in southern Spain.
In addition to several crowded streets, you can also find calmer places in the center. It is one of the streets leading across the old part of Algeciras.
Palms are an inseparable element of space in the Spanish south.
At the end the last glance at the nearby Gibraltar seen from the hill at the edge of the center of Algeciras.
In this way, we finish the penultimate week of stay in Spain. On Monday we go to the Cadiz area near the Atlantic Ocean and on January 15 we are planning to leave Spain and start our journey through Portugal.