|The Rock of Gibraltar|
kilometers, making it easy to explore on foot, and its location at the entrance of the Mediterranean south of Spain makes it a good jumping-off point for further travels. The landscape is dotted with caves and tunnels, Gibraltar has a rich, swashbuckling history and its underlying Britishness makes it a perfect destination for pub- and tea-lovers who also crave the sunshine.
Gibraltar's Islamic history began with the arrival of Tariq ibn-Ziyad on 27 April 711 at the start of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The name of the city comes from the arabic Jabal-ı Tārıq (جبل طارق, "Mountain of Tariq" which name was later corrupted into "Gibraltar" by the Spanish.
The history of Moorish Gibraltar began with the landing of the Muslims in Hispania and the fall of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo in 711 and ended with the fall of Gibraltar to Christian hands 751 years later, in 1462, with an interregnum during the early 14th century.
The Madinat al-Fath (City of Victory) was intended to be a major city furnished with palaces and mosques, but it seems to have fallen well short of the ambitions of its founder, the Almohad caliph Abd al-Mu'min, by the time it was captured by the Kingdom of Castile in 1309 after a short siege. Muslim control was restored in 1333 after another, much longer, siege. The city subsequently underwent a major expansion and refortification. A number of buildings and structures from this period still exist, including the Moorish Castle, parts of the Moorish walls, a bath-house and a subterranean reservoir.
Naturally, the main sight in Gibraltar is The Rock. The upper Rock's nature reserve offers spectacular views of the town and sea below. The reserve is also home to the only free-living primates on the entire continent. Over 240 Barbary Macaques thrive around the Apes' Den, an area close to the center cable-car station. According to local legend, the British will disappear from Gibraltar when the tailless apes do.
The British side of Gibraltar is most evident on Main Street. The pedestrianized drag is lined with cozy pubs, charming tea shops and busy restaurants. Although it looks like it could be a street in London, a distinctly Spanish lilt is still in the air, reminding visitors that they are indeed in Mediterranean Europe.
|Ibrahim Al Ibrahim Mosque, Gibraltar|
Not far from Main Street is the Ibrahim Al Ibrahim Mosque, a symbol of the religious and racial symbiosis of the territory's past. Opened in 1997, the mosque was built by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to feed the religious needs of Moroccans working on the Rock, and it is the largest mosque in the non-Islamic world.