Thursday, September 17, 2009

GIBRALTAR, A PLACE TO DISCOVER

Everybody heard about the Strait of Gibraltar which is parting Europe from Africa, many visited Gibraltar coming from all over the world, but only few know its history, legends and hidden places.
Gibraltar is a small country, but with a big heart and every Gibraltarian living in other part of the world is missing its charm, because maybe you can't live here for long, but for sure you can't live without it for ever.
Located in the south-western extremity of Europe, with a territory which covers 6 843 square kilometres and approx. 30 000 inhabitants, Gibraltar is considered as one of the most prosperous and stable place in the world.
Named after a Berber general, Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the first incursion into Iberia in 711, its name changed in time from Gibraltaric to Gibraltar. Gibraltarians use to call their beloved country Gib or The Rock.
Nowadays there are around 12 nationalities living here, among them one can count the Moroccan, Indian, English, Jewish, Maltese, German, Spanish, Genoese communities, and there are few more; it is remarkable that all these people belonging to different communities, religions, having different habits and languages, actually live in peace together in a very friendly way, respecting and helping each other. In fact, this is one of the main characteristics of Gibraltar : the friendly atmosphere.
Tourists use to come here, mostly by cruise ships (huge ones) for one day shopping trip on the Main Street, attracted by the tax-free products they can buy, and to see the only wild monkeys from Europe which are living on the Upper Rock. There they can visit also the Moorish Castle built in XII century, the Great Siege open-air museum, St. Michael's Cave and other interesting historical vestiges.There is no time for more, even Gibraltar means more, much more.
As soon as you come here, you can't miss to notice the luxuriant vegetation, beautiful flowers, huge palm-trees, etc; that's because Gibraltar is blessed with a subtropical climate, meaning hot summers and mild winters and the exotic plants have found here an ideal home;it is known that on The Rock there are over 500 different species of flowering plants. To see just a little part of them, a nice place to visit is Alameda Gardens, which is an amazing botanical garden, especially in March when the most beautiful flowers are in full blossom. Built on approx. 8 hectares of land starting with 1815 on a "desert of red sand" used as a raw material in constructions (part of this area was used as vegetable gardens and cemeteries during the numerous sieges), nowadays Alameda Gardens is a oasis of peace, fresh air and beauty, being laid out in a natural jungle way.
Last week, on 10th of September, the Gibraltarians celebrated their national day. As you know, Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity, under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Later, on 10th of September 1967 was held Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum at which the citizens of Gibraltar were asked to choose between Spanish and British sovereignty; the answer was overwhelming in favour of continuance of British sovereignty and that day is celebrated now as the National Day. For years now, on that date, the most enthusiastic crowd dressed in red and white, the national colours, goes on streets enjoying the traditional food, live music, joking and dancing, cheering and chatting.
Usually the fun starts around midday with a political rally, followed by a short speech held by the Mayor of Gibraltar. Then, there are released 30 000 red and white balloons , one for each Gibraltarian.This is also the signal for the beginning of the party which continues all day long ended up late in the night with beautiful fire-works.
Proud of their country, Gibraltarians know to work, live and party together.



NOTE: The text was written and sent by me to a bilingual magazine "Literary Contemporary Horizon" in order to be published, being asked by them to write something about Gibraltar.

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