The Alameda Botanic Gardens
The Rock of Gibraltar has a lengthy history that includes many long sieges, multiple conquests and a lengthy military culture, but more than this, it has a fascinating eco-system as well that is unmatched elsewhere on earth. Just as the culture, the architecture and the people are all influenced by multiple cultures and areas, so too is the plant and animal life here influenced by areas other than the Rocks immediate location.
The cultures include Moors, Spanish, Genoese and British and each of them have brought with them their own influence on the botanical inclusions of the area, bringing with them ideas on planting, cultivation, deforestation, and new plant life that is seen in Gibraltar.
By an large, much of Gibraltar’s history of necessity included military, since the many attempts at conquest and siege meant that was first and foremost in everyone’s mind, so it wasn’t until about the 1800’s that anyone really took a hard look at what was necessary for the well being of those who lived there day to day.
Sir George Don, who was then the Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar, was viewed as being probably the first public leader of Gibraltar who saw fit to dedicate any amount of public resources to the well being of the general population, including founding a hospital for civilians.
About 1815 he is noted as stating that in consideration of the fact that “there being no place of public recreation in this Garrison” he “was induced…..to establish a walk around the Grand Parade, and form what is called in this country an Alameda, where the inhabitants might enjoy the air protected from the extreme heat of the sun”.
He avoided using public money by taking contributions from the citizens and military as well as some from the theatre, and raised funds in lotteries as well to create what he had in mind.
The Grand Parade, his choice of sites, was a grounds used for assembly and other purposes, that was south of Gibraltar town, and had been a red sand desert, that was used for multiple things, including a sort of planning and building area, a vegetable garden for the troops during the siege times and also as a cemetery in other areas.
It have been a hub for the military activity for the various rulers also over the years, as it was an easy landing area as well.
Gradually the land around that Parade was built up, and was gradually expanded to include about 8 hectares for what is now called Alameda Gardens.
The name used is taken from the Spanish, Alamo, which is a tree that according to the older writings, was grown along the Grand Parade. Alameda Garden was opened in 1816, and was covered by the paper, The Gibraltar Chronicle, who are quoted as saying, “The walks at the New Alameda being completed they will be opened to the public tomorrow afternoon, at 4 o’clock, when three Bands of Music will attend.”
The gardens were laid out in with paths that intersected and interconnected, beds were terraced and much of it was done in the Jurassic limestone that is native to the area, some tinted a pale pink by the red sand that is also local. Later, gas lights were adding and a whales jawbone was used to make an archway in the gardens.
The gardens went along quite well used until the early 1970’s when they were in such total disrepair as to be unsightly in areas. They remained so until the early 1990’s when the Gibraltar Government consulted with a group of environmental managers and consultants who were then contracted to take the gardens in hand, bring them back up to par and manage them.
They were converted into the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, with a view toward continued development of the gardens to promote conservation, education and simply enjoyment of the gardens themselves.
There are conservation programs taking place there, as well as daily viewing for the enjoyment of the public.
Among the sights of interest the visitor to Alameda Gardens will see are such things as the Red sand soil, lovely plants such as the Paper Narcissus, rare plants such as the Gibraltar sea Lavender, and multiple plants found only on Gibraltar.
The garden’s hours are as follows: 8am to 9pm or sunset, which ever is earlier.
The Gardens are staffed by:
Director: Dr John Cortes
Curator: Brian M Lamb
Horticulturist: Andrew Abrines
Red Sands Road
PO Box 843
Administration/Reception +350 20041235
Learn more about Gibraltar!
St Michael's Cave is a series, or network, of caves made of limestone, which are found on the Rock, or [more]
RYA Sailing / Yachting Schools and Trips in Gibraltar We can't imagine a better place for a sailing holiday than Gibraltar. [more]
Half Day Tour of Gibraltar When your time is limited and you've got to be somewhere else at some given time, [more]
St Andrews Church of Scotland Gibraltar St Andrew's Church Gibraltar, the rough rocky peninsula, which remains an overseas territory of [more]
Casemate Square is one of the two main areas people congregate in Gibraltar, currently for fun and entertainment, but that [more]