The Rock was first named Jebel Tarik (Tarik's mountain) for it is here that Tarik ibn Ziyad set foot with 10 000 Berbers to invade the peninsula in 711 AD. The Moors were expulsed in 1462 and "Jebel Tarik" was pronounced Gibraltar by its new Castillian masters. That name remained when the British took over in 1713. Spain tried to regain Gibraltar but gave up after the "Great Siege" of 1779-83. To this day, Gibraltar remains a sore point between Britain and Spaniards whose pride is hurt by this tenacious foreign occupation and who perceive the 5.8 kmē intrusion as a base for smuggling and illegal money laundering operations (apparently rightly so).
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The Rock, viewed from Spain. The steep cliff symbolizing impregnable strength faces north-west towards Spain and not southwards across the straight of Gibraltar as I had always imagined before coming here.
On the top. Behind me can be seen the Spanish town of La Linea and, very faintly, a stretch of sun drenched resort beach on the right.
Gibraltar town occupies a narrow 1 x 5 km meter strip on the western side of the rock. The Spanish border lies just beyond the airport landing strip.
Gibraltar's "Main Street" is always busy with tourists and shoppers from Spain who momentarily add their numbers to the 30 000 permanent residents. Gibraltarians are of mixed Genoese, Jewish, Spanish, Moroccan and British ancestry but they all have British citizenship since 1981.
Gibraltarians speak English and Spanish and most are Protestant. The interesting Anglican Cathedral shows evidence of Moorish influence.
There are few signs of the precedent Moorish and Spanish occupations as most older building have been destroyed to make room for new, except for the British fortifications that have been meticulously preserved.
View from the west with the town in front, Spain on the left and the straight on the right.