The Rock of Gibralter
Coming from Germany and the English Channel, along the west coast of France and the Iberian Peninsula, we crossed through the Strait of Gibralter as we entered the Mediterranean Sea.
The Strait of Gibralter is a significant place because of its narrow boundaries of entering the Mediterranean Sea, which gives access to southern Europe and northern Africa (Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, etc.). At its narrowest point, it is just eight miles apart from southern Spain and Gibralter to the northern coast of Morocco. So it’s just eight miles from Europe to Africa.
When we entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strat of Gibralter, it was 6AM and still dark as the sun hadn’t started rising. While we sailed through this passageway, though, we could see lights on both sides, from both Spain and Gibralter in Europe, and the lights in Morocco. Morocco had a large sign lit up with Arabic writing, and we were close enough that if I could read Arabic, I could’ve read the sign.
After passing the Rock of Gibralter, we continued up the east coast of Spain, spent a few days in Barcelona and then another two in Valencia, and then we started out the same way we came back in, though the Strait of Gibralter. On the way back, though, it was around 4PM on a beautiful, calm day.
I really didn’t know what to expect with the Rock of Gibralter. I hardly knew anything about Gibralter or why this Strait and Rock were significant. I was pleasantly surprised when we were just over 10 miles away, and I could see this mountain jutting out from the land. It didn’t seem to be connected to anything at first, but as we got closer, we could see it was a peninsula. As we got closer, we could see that it was literally a large rock, the Rock of Gibralter, and that there was almost no permanent homes or buildings whatsoever on this side of the rock. The steep rock is about 1,200 feet tall and somewhere around 3,000 feet long. As we made our way, slowly, to the west side, we could start to see how much development there was. There were many curious voyagers out on the deck excited to see the Rock. Many professors even brought their classes out to see it.
Gibralter, although just a small piece of land in the most southern part of Spain, is actually a British colony. The British took over this piece of land in 1713 and still controls it. Why did the British want this tiny piece of land? Because it is at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s only eight miles to across to Morocco, they could use this to control who enters and who exits the Mediterranean Sea. This proved very important during World War II. Gibralter has 30,000 inhabitants, who are mostly British citizens, on an area the size of 2.6 miles. They speak English there, and the country has become a tourist destination for its location on the sea.
One of the most surprising parts of this passing was just how close Europe and Africa sit to each other at this part. Standing at the bow of the ship, you can clearly see both sides. I was also shocked by the beauty of the mountains on the Moroccan side. After passing the Rock of Gibralter, most people went inside to continue their lives. However, soon afterwards, we passed a few enormous Moroccan mountains that were equally, if not more, impressive than the Rock of Gibralter. Intrigued, I sat outside for another two hours, including dinner, to see as much of the landscape as possible. Slowly but surely, the land became smaller and smaller, and finally, around 8PM, we were back in the open ocean with no land in sight.