Rock of Gibraltar Tour: Europa Point, Upper Rock, St. Michael's Cave and Ape's Den
Tour Participation Requirements
St. Michael's Cave has always seemed mysterious, even bottomless. The Ancient Greeks believed it was the Gates of Hades, an entryway to the underworld. Others thought it was a passage under the Strait of Gibraltar, a link to Africa that brought the first apes to the Rock. Today the cave continues to beguile scientists, historians, and curious travelers.
One thing we know for sure is that it's old. Archeologists have found Neolithic bowls, cave drawings, and Neanderthal skulls – all clues prehistoric man was there long before your visit. Geologists have figured out the caves were formed as rainwater created a carbonic acid solution that slowly, over eons, created tiny fissures that eventually grew into a vast network of passageways and caverns almost 1000 feet above the sea.
Historians know the cave's role in Gibraltar's conflict-filled past. (It's been one of Europe's most fought-after places due to a strategic location near the entrance to the Mediterranean.) Going back to the 700s, Berber warlords used the caves during conquests. Then in 1704, after the British had captured the Rock, 500 Spaniards attempted to take it back by hiding overnight in the caves before springing a surprise attack. (But not surprising enough. They lost.)
St. Michael's Cave has been more harmonious since then. In the largest chamber, called Cathedral Cave for its stalactites that resemble church organ pipes, Victorians held elaborate parties, weddings, and picnics. Today, with its fine acoustics, Cathedral Cave is a perfect venue for musical and dramatic events – and for beauties vying for top spot in the annual Miss Gibraltar pageant.
Churchill didn't monkey around
The Rock's famous apes are Europe's only free-roaming primates. Legend has it that if the apes ever left Gibraltar, the colony would cease to be British – and this was taken seriously. During World War II, when the ape population decreased to a mere seven, Winston Churchill ordered five females brought in from Morocco. Then, just to make sure, a troop transport was dispatched to North Africa to bring more apes to the Rock.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.