Gibraltar Mediterranean Steps

Mediterranean Steps is Gibraltar’s most noteworthy and beautiful mountain path. It takes its name from the series of zigzagging steps near the summit of the Rock close to O’Haras and Lord Aireys 9.2 inch gun batteries, the top section of the walk is almost vertical, with many of the steps hewn out of the limestone and set against the cliff face.

Only those with some experience of trekking in rugged mountain terrain should attempt the walk. Footware with good grip is essential. Early morning or very late afternoon are best during summer, and bring lots of water, mornings are best during autumn and winter.

As the path levels out, the true peace and tranquillity of the area can be appreciated. The wonderful flowers and plants, especially the Gibraltar Candytuft, Chickweed and Saxifrage, combined with the song of the Blue Rock Thrush and the Wren, and the calls of the hundreds of Yellow-legged Gulls echoing amongst the towering cliffs. Walkers may catch a fleeting glimpse of the Barbary Partridges and Peregrine Falcons that nest in the area. Along the path, a series of WorId War II installations and small gun batteries are located at strategic points. Excavations at Goat’s Hair Twin Caves revealed evidence of occupation by early man and demonstrates, another facet in Gibraltar’s history. The lower section of the path borders the southern slopes of the Rock, affording magnificent views of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Most people who decide to walk Mediterranean Steps do so from the bottom to the top, however many people descend the steps after travelling to the top of the Rock via the cable car, this can be very thrilling since the height and views are always prevalent, not recommended for people who suffer from vertigo. If you intend to do it this way, buy the cheapest cable car ticket which is the Single Without Attractions.

For the purposes of the map above we shall start at the bottom of the trek adjacent to the Pillars of Hercules Monument at Jews Gate. The trek leads through the bushes beside the bird watching station which is the cream coloured building shown in the panorama opposite.

The British Military created the Mediterranean Steps as part of the communications system between defence posts. At the highest point of the steps are two 9.2″ gun batteries and at the midpoint are gun emplacements and ancillary buildings dating back to World War II.

The Steps were an important link between these positions, the batteries at the top of the Rock and Jews’ Gate. There are also prehistoric and natural sites on the Steps. The Twin Caves and the raised beaches are evidence of much higher water levels in the distant past and Martins Cave contains an important bat colony.

The Rock of Gibraltar’s uniqueness makes it a very special place for plants. A limestone “Island” surrounded by a ‘sandstone hinterland, the Rock’s flora also has North African influences. More than 600 species of plant can be found growing on Gibraltar’s 2.5 sq miles, an enormous diversity for such a small area. Due to its isolated character and proximity to North Africa, several plants found growing in Gibraltar can be found nowhere else in Europe. These include the Gibraltar Candytuft and the Gibraltar Thyme. The Gibraltar Sea Lavender, a plant of coastal areas that is endemic to the Strait, grows on a few cliffs within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Other plants grow only in Gibraltar. These are specialised to growing on the cliffs that abound on the Rock. The Gibraltar Saxifrage grows mainly on rocky ledges that face north. The most special of Gibraltar’s flowers are those endemic plants that are full species. These are the Gibraltar Chickweed. and the, very rare Gibraltar Campion, one of the rarest and most endangered plants in the world.

A major refurbishment project for the Mediterranean Steps was completed in June 2007. The project was fully financed by The Bonita Trust and project-managed by the Government of Gibraltar.

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