Don’t you love it when the place is so quiet that you can take photos without pesky people getting in the way?
Granted some spontaneous people shots can really make a special photo out of nothing, but sometimes, it’s nice to take architectural/historical photos without people cluttering up the place.
So first thing on a Sunday morning is A Good Time to take piccies. Lazy Gibbos haven’t got out of bed, even lazier Spaniards probably haven’t arrived home from their Saturday night out, and tourists haven’t started wandering around looking for the cable car and the monkeys.
As you would expect in a small place that has been fought over for centuries, and later became a military garrison, Gibraltar is full of fortifications, walls, gates, and former military buildings.
A couple of minutes walk from me are Southport Gates/Referendum Gates. Whenever we’ve been away, I love wandering back through the city walls. It’s great crossing the frontier, and the airfield, but it’s only when I’ve walked through these gates and I’m within the city walls that I can truly say ‘Home again.’
There are three separate gates here. They are at the far (south) end of Main Street, just before the Trafalgar Cemetery. The first gate dates back to the sixteenth century (1552), when Charles V of Spain started construction of a wall from the Upper Rock right down to Main Street to improve the city’s defences. Originally this gate had a drawbridge.
Above the archway on the outside of the gate are the Arms of Gibraltar and Spain (don’t forget it was still Spanish at this time although that didn’t stop people trying to invade). The Arms of Gibraltar are on the bottom left hand corner, and on the right is a coat of arms said to be that of the Marques de Mondejar. The gate also bears the Pillars of Hercules with the inscription ‘plus ultra’ to mark the recent discovery of the New World.
A second arch was cut in the wall in 1883. On it are the British Lion and Unicorn, the Castle and Key of Gibraltar, and the Arms of General Sir John Adye, then Governor of Gibraltar. Further alterations were carried out in 1899.
Finally the last wider gate – Referendum Gate – commemorates the 1967 referendum, Gibraltar’s first one, when Gibraltarians voted by 99% to retain links with Britain in preference to Spain. A second referendum in 2002 produced a similar result. You would have thought by now that politicians would get the message.
As an aside from the history lesson, plenty of Spaniards don’t want Gibraltar to lose its ties with Britain. The ones who cross the frontier every day for work know that the economic situation would change drastically under Spanish sovereignty, and they are currently grateful they have jobs, while many of their friends, family and neighbours in Spain are unemployed.
Moving quickly up-to-date with the revamp of the Trafalgar roundabout area, which is next to the gates. Work was started nearly three years ago to change the road layout, and the garden areas. The cost of the tender was approx £3M, although I’ve no idea what the final bill came in at.
They made a good job of it, but it looked nice enough before. Has it slowed down the traffic? Possibly, although vehicles still come down Europa Road far too fast. I think the new seats are pretty naff looking, and I don’t really like all the blue, but apart from that it looks great. The trees have little fairy lights on at night, and the gardens are floodlit, so it does look really pretty then (when you can’t see all the blue). No, I haven’t taken any shots of blue paintwork and naff benches, although you can see the blue streetlights in the pic below.
It’s a pleasant enough place to sit, although why there are benches in the middle of a pedestrian crossing area (off left in the above pic) is beyond me. Great place to get lots of petrol/diesel fumes in your lungs. Fortunately there are benches elsewhere too.
Information about the gates comes from the treasury website, as they feature on a five pound note, link here.
Thanks to Panorama for the tender details about the works, link here. The winning firm Haymills no longer exists, but that’s another story.
I’ve threatened to write about baked beans on toast, but that will have to wait for another post……
I would like to wish all Andalucíans an excellent day, as today is Día de Andalucía. Que paseis un buen Día!
And – a special thanks to WordPress for choosing the roadworks shot as the one to feature on the blog pages. That was a really clever trick. So not appreciated by me.