If hiking is something you love, your visit to Gibraltar can offer you that as well but not of course without risks. While one can hike most of the Upper Reserve, and do a walking tour of the town, one of those hikes that is not without risks, but still quite often hiked, is the Mediterranean steps.
Though not for those who are out of shape, the Mediterranean steps offer you the chance to combine a good long hike, with amazing views and a bit of risk as well as a bit of skill thrown in. The government of Gibraltar posted the steps as unfit, and in essence said they should not be used, however, since that time, a major refurbishing of the Mediterranean steps has taken place.
Many areas of the Mediterranean steps were considered to be unscaleable and as such were posted to that effect, but in 2007 a major refurbishing of the Mediterranean Steps was completed, financed by The Bonita Trust and managed and overseen by the Government of Gibraltar.
The Mediterranean Steps history is as unique as the area itself, and as much involved with the defenses of the area as many of the other attractions of Gibraltar.
The Mediterranean Steps were created by the military as part of a system of communication that would run between two defense points of Gibraltar. The highest point of the Mediterranean Steps hosts two gun batteries, and midway through the trek are placements for guns and buildings that date to the second World War.
The Mediterranean Steps were one of the most important links between the batteries that were situated at the top of the Rock and what was called Jews Gate. There are of course also some aspects of the steps which are prehistoric in nature and there are natural sites that also appear on the steps.
Some evidence of this can be seen in the raised beaches as well as the evidence of higher water levels that existed in the far gone past.
A major refurbishment project for the Mediterranean Steps was completed in June 2007. The project was fully financed by The Bonita Trust and project-managed by the Government of Gibraltar. The path winds round Gibraltar, at times becoming very rough, can be quite windy and some of the steps are cut out of the limestone and may be set against the faces of cliffs, while others will be completely level in nature, so as you can see, the walk itself is not for the faint hearted.
The Mediterranean steps appear to be, and in fact are, a flight of stairs that have been cut from the limestone and will take you on a circuitous route around the city. Steep and often uneven, the steps can leave you dizzied by the very height of them, and in combination with the winds and the absolutely breath taking views one can see, it is easy to see why so many choose to scale the heights.
About two feet in width, much of the path is without challenge, while the second part has some risks from vegetation that has overgrown the pathway and the slippery surface that can take place in any area that combines great heights with watery depths.
Many of those who choose not to hike the upward path, but would like to see the view from the Mediterranean Steps will choose to ride a cable car to the crest, rather than hike it, and navigate the Mediterranean steps for their descent.
During the trip along the Mediterranean Steps, as has been mentioned, various opportunities to view some of the more wonderful of Gibraltar’s sceneries and attractions will be given to you. If you brave the Mediterranean Steps, don’t do so without a camera in hand, since you will want to record much of what you do see.
The best time to visit the Mediterranean steps Will be in the spring, when the sun hasn’t yet reached its zenith, and offers cool days and evenings, and when the multiple types of wildflowers will be blooming, washing the landscape with colours.
A few of the attractions of Gibraltar that will present themselves for viewing while you are walking the Mediterranean steps will be some very unusual plant life, such as may grow nowhere else in Europe.
The generally unique nature of Gibraltar is what makes it a venue for equally unique plant life.
The limestone of Gibraltar, surrounded by the sandstone means that the flora of Gibraltar has influences from other areas, such as North Africa, but is also unique to itself.
More than 500 different species of plants are hosted by just 2 and a half square miles of Gibraltar, which is an enormous ecosystem for such a small area. No other place in Europe hosts the plants known as Gibraltar Candytuft and the Gibraltar Thyme, and Gibraltar Sea Lavender, a coastal plant grows only a few places on Gibraltar as well
One plant that you should look for during your Mediterranean Steps trek, as well as in other areas, is the Gibraltar Campion, a true species to itself as well as bring one of the most rare and critically endangered plants in the world today.
Take the time to at least view the Mediterranean steps, even if you cannot hike them. Their unique history makes them among the most interesting of the attractions of Gibraltar.
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