As the last and most southern point of my journey through Europe I would like to visit the British Crowncolony of Gibraltar. Gibraltar has always been and still is a fortress. The rock that overlooks the Strait of Gibraltar from 425m on his highest point still represents an important strategic and economic position.
Almost every ship that passes the strait between Europe and Africa, which is only 13 kilometers wide in its smallest place, is refuelled in the port of Gibraltar. In one year, the tiny colony sells more ship fuel than the entire country of France.
Since 1704 Gibraltar is occupied by the British and since 1986 the land borders are open again. When Spain still had a military government, General Franco closed the border and Great Britain could only reach their colony by airtransport and ships.
Inside the rock of Gibraltar extends a tunnel system with a length of 55 kilometers and is thereby longer than the surface road system.
The construction of the oldest tunnels dates back to the 18th century. They were built in order to prevent the besieging Spaniards from invading. Always with success.
The underground system was then further developed in the Second World War.
Great Britain feared that German troops would attempt an occupation(two German divisions were set for it at the border to spain!) and so could lose the control over the entrance to the mediteranean sea. To prevent this scenario the British established the strongest fortress of war history.
Over the strait steel nets were strained and the famous O `Hara Battery had its turrets pointet at the sea. A hostile passage was made impossible.
As a protection from nighttime air raids, more headlights were positioned on the rock than in the city of London!
The tunnel system was also used as an logistic headquarter in which
General Eisenhower planned the Operation Torch. The occupation of Northern Africa by English and American troops.
Since 2005 it is possible to visit parts of this enormous tunnel system with a Guide.
So once you are there this is an opportunity you should not miss.
Up to 15000! man were accommodated in these sections.
Crossings with signposts
Remainings of the water supply. Rain water was gathered and stored.
After visiting the tunnels I also see the town.
Approx. 30,0000 people from all nationalities of the world live in Gibraltar. There are churches and temples for altogether 16 different religions.
The special thing of this multi-cultural structure is that all live together in peace. Racism and criminality donít seem to exist here.
If one asks the people for the secret behind it, they would say that communication is the key. Whenever people have problems they talk about it and solve it as soon as possible. The children already learn that at school.
When Gibraltar was besieged by the Spanish for 4 years between 1779-1783, it was crucial to stay together for a long time as well as put up with each other in a confined space. This attitude further developed and became a tradition.
Perhaps Gibraltar could therefore be a peace model for the rest of Europe and the whole world.
In any case it is a place worth visiting. Also because of the funny rock apes, which can be quite challenging every now and then.
So beautiful and interesting Europe was, so exciting will be the next stage.
The view from Point Europe
Now Africa lies ahead. I will travel through Marocco, cross the Atlas mountains and drive into Mauritania. Here Sahara sands and heat will demand the most of me and the material.
After approximately 5000km I will hopefully reach the city of Bamako at the Niger River. The gate to West Africa.