Gibraltar Culture, Heritage and History
Ministry of Culture
Gibraltar’s main cultural events are organised by the Ministry of Culture, although there are countless others, such as concerts, plays and exhibitions, which are organised by other entities, including musicians, artists and dance groups.
The main aims of the ministry are:
To work with individuals and groups involved in the arts and other cultural activities To extend the audience for, and participation in the arts To sustain and encourage the best possible standards of artistic practice To help artists and organisations to achieve organisational viability To maximise investment in the arts To build partnerships with the business sector and others to extend strategic support for the arts To build working relationships with other authorities abroad to widen the scope of artistic and cultural activities in Gibraltar To develop contacts abroad with a view to export Gibraltar’s Culture to other countries Gibraltar Cultural Services (GCS)
GCS works on behalf of the Ministry of Culture for HM Government of Gibraltar, organising cultural events and managing the numerous cultural facilities and premises in Gibraltar.
Flora & fauna
The rich diversity of nature found in Gibraltar draws many visitors every year. High on the Rock live its most famous residents, the friendly, charming and inquisitive Barbary apes, Europe’s only wild primates that have lived here for centuries. Legend holds that when the apes leave, Gibraltar will cease to be British.
Gibraltar is home to a wealth of plant life; palms and jacaranda, lavender and jasmine, clematis, honeysuckle, geraniums and bougainvillea live side by side with rarer species,such as Gibraltar Candy-tuft and Gibraltar Sea Lavender.
In the seas around Gibraltar the diversity of life is yet more bountiful. Sailing into the bay, one will find their boat trailed by flying fish and leaping dolphins. Beneath the waves, divers will find reefs and wrecks teeming with colourful and exotic sea-life.
Every spring and autumn, the Rock becomes a staging post for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds as they travel between Northern Europe and in Africa. Resident species such as peregrine falcons, blue rock thrush and Barbary partridge are joined by owls and eagles, harriers and hoopoes, buzzards and black kites.
Great efforts are made to preserve the beauty of the Rock’s natural environment for future visitors. Part of the upper rock has been designated as a nature reserve and work is underway to transform Gibraltar’s famous public park, the Alameda Gardens, into a new, world-class botanical garden.
Situated at latitude 36º07’N and longitude 05º21, Gibraltar juts out steeply from the low-lying Spanish territory to which it is connected by a sandy isthmus, a mile long and half a mile wide. Five miles east, across the Bay of Gibraltar,lies the Spanish port of Algeciras and 20 miles south,across the Strait, is northern Africa. The Mediterranean falls to the East and it is approximately 1,400 miles to Britain, by sea.
The Rock runs a length of 3 miles, from north to south and is 3/4 mile wide. Its total area is 2 1/4 square miles, though land increased by reclamation is not reflected in this measurement. The top of the Rock, 1,396ft high, is a sharp, knife-ridge extending for about a mile and a half from the north escarpment, which is virtually inaccessible.The ridge slopes gradually south for about a mile, terminating at the southern extremity, Europa Point, in perpendicular cliffs about 100ft high. The whole upper length of the eastern face is inaccessible and the steep upper half of the western slopes is uninhabited,having been designated a nature reserve.
Geologically, Gibraltar can be divided into two main parts. To the north is a plain, consisting of sand 30ft deep, atop 4ft of clay and a bed of coarse sand 2 1/4 ft thick and limestone. The second part is a mass of the Rock to the south, consisting of compact Jurassic limestone, overlaid with dark shale, limestone breccias or sands.
Nowadays Gibraltar primarily sources water from efficient desalination and purification of water, at facilities located at the North Mole. Gibraltar’s climate is temperate. During winter months, the prevailing winds are from the west or north-west and occasionally south-west. Snow or frost is extremely rare. The mean minimum and maximum temperatures during this period are 13ºC and 18ºC respectively. In summer the prevailing wind is from the east; a warm breeze, laden with moisture, known as the ‘Levanter’, strikes the eastern face of the Rock, condenses in the sky above it and causes a cold pall to hang over the city and bay. During this period the climate is humid.
The mean minimum and maximum temperatures in the summer are 13ºC and 30ºC respectively. Vegetation in Gibraltar is rich and varied, from its upper slopes to the Alameda Gardens. Over 600 species of plants, exclusive of ferns, mosses and lichens are known to grow on the Rock, six of them, including the Gibraltar candy-tuft, are found nowhere else in Europe. Plant life is at its most impressive between October and May. The hot sun and scant rainfall give the Rock a somewhat barren appearance during the summer months. Over 270 species of wild birds have been recorded in here, some are resident on the Rock, such as the Barbary partridge which is found nowhere else inmainland Europe. The majority are migrants that congregate at the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa. Among these, the best known and most spectacular are the migrations of 15 species of bird of prey and the crossing of 50,000 white storks.
The Rock holds many diverse populations including bats, reptiles, insects and marine life, some of which are of regional interest. Broadly speaking, the human population is concentrated on the western side of the Rock, resulting in the densely populated town area and in the slightly more spacious residential estates to the north of the town. The large harbour reclamation (over 30,000 sq metres) has permitted further large-scale housing projects. On the east side of the Rock is Catalan Bay, a small village, with some 350 inhabitants. The natural features of Gibraltar preclude all possibility of agriculture or major industrial production. It is, however,impeccably suited for the development of a flourishing tourist trade.
Ministry for Heritage Gibraltar Museum Gibraltar Heritage Trust Ministry for Heritage In 2014 the Ministry of Sports, Culture, Heritage and Youth expanded its Heritage Office to include the services of an archaeologist to advice the Government of Gibraltar on heritage and conservation matters as the new heritage filter. In particular this new post will assess any archaeological, heritage and conservation issues arising from the Building Applications submitted to the Development Planning Commission [DPC], heritage conditions on new tenders and developments, Desk-Based Assessments [DBA’s], archaeological excavations and the planning of developer funded archaeology projects in the city of Gibraltar.
- Pre History
Throughout the ages, the Rock of Gibraltar has cast a powerful first impression on those that have seen it. Whether approaching by land, sea or air, the Rock looms stark and isolated as it towers above the region. At the neck of the Strait of Gibraltar, it is the final signpost before the Mediterranean joins the Atlantic and thus has been an important site throughout European history.
When the African Plate collided with Europe some 55 million years ago, the prehistoric sea that existed in the basin of the Mediterranean dwindled and dried up.Then 5 million years ago, the Atlantic waters burst through the Strait of Gibraltar and created the Mediterranean as we know it and isolating the Rock.
940 BC to 1500 AD
The Phoenicians followed navigators from the eastern Mediterranean visiting the Strait, finding the city Carteia at the head of the Bay of Gibraltar. The Rock became a place of worship where sailors made sacrifices to the gods before entering the Atlantic.
1501 AD to 1790 AD
Queen Isabella, tired of the petty squabbling among her nobility, issued a decree on the 2nd December 1501 AD, making Gibraltarthe property of the Spanish crown.
1791 AD to 1900 AD
1793 AD to 1815 AD
The French revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars led to a considerable increase in the trade, prosperity and population of Gibraltar. The town, which had been destroyed in the Great Siege, was rebuilt.
1901 AD to 1991 AD
The City Council was established and the first elections held in Gibraltar.
- Arms of Gibraltar
- The flag of Gibraltar
Arms of Gibraltar
Arms consisting of a triple-towered castle with a golden key in the centre were granted to “The Most Loyal City of Gibraltar” by Ferdinand and Isabella in the year 1502. The original grant on vellum is now in the archives of the Municipality of San Roque.
The words usually found underneath the arms are “Montis Insignia Calpe”, meaning “Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar”, the same words that appear on the Colours of the Suffolk Regiment, which obtained permission to have the Arms of Gibraltar inscribed on their colours, in recognition of the gallant part they played in the Siege of Gibraltar. The words “NulliExpugnabilisHosti” meaning “Conquered By No Enemy” also occasionally appear under the Arms of Gibraltar.
In 1875, a copy of an Admiralty Flag Book was forwarded to all colonies with an enquiry as to whether the devices shown in the centre of the flags were correct. It was stated in the same despatch that in those colours wherebadges for flags had been approved, no objection would be offered to their continued use, but it was hoped that the first opportunity would be taken of adopting the device on the seal. The reply to this despatch was to the effect that the badge for the Union Jack shown in the flag book was correct, but that it differed from the device on the seal of the colony and that the earliest opportunity of adopting the latter device would be taken.
The origin of the device on the Seal of the Colony, which consists of a picture of the Rock with a sailing ship in the foreground and the words “NulliExpugnabilisHosti” underneath, cannot be traced, but it has been suggested that it was taken from a Commemorative Medal of the Siege, believed to have been designed under instructions from General Eliott. No action has been taken with regard to replacing the badge originally approved for the centre of the Union Jack, but the device shown on the Seal and in a despatch in September 1926, the late Sir Charles Monro recommended that the arms originally granted by Ferdinand and Isabella should be regarded as the true and proper Arms of Gibraltar, and that the device on the seal should be changed to conform with this. He also recommended that the words “Montis Insignia Calpe” should be regarded as part of the device.
The Secretary of State sought the advice of the Garter King of Arms as to whether the Arms granted by Ferdinand and Isabella could be regarded as the recognised ones without the necessity for a Royal Warrant and whether they could be placed on record officially with the addition of the motto “Montis Insignia Calpe”. He was advised that this could be done without the issue of a Royal Warrant and it was suggested that a properly attested and accurate copy of the Grant of Arms in 1502 should be recorded at the College of Arms.
The flag of Gibraltar The flag of Gibraltar is an elongated banner of the Arms of Gibraltar, granted by Royal Warrant Queen Isabella of Castille on the 10th July 1502.
“An escutcheon on which the upper two thirds shall be a white field and on the said field set a red castle, and below the said castle, on the other third of the escutcheon, which must be a red field in which there must be a white line between the castle and the said red field, there shall be a golden key which hangs by a chain from the said castle, as are here figured”