As is the case with many of Gibraltar's attractions, the Mediterranean Steps have a military connection and were created by the British army in the 18th century as a way for the soldiers to move between the various defence points on the Rock. The steps are located entirely within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve so can be visited along with a number of other attractions in the same day, depending on how fit the visitor is. Starting at Jews Gate which is a favourite area to visit for spectacular views to Morocco's Rif Mountains, the Mediterranean Steps zig zag their way from a height of 180 metres to over 425 metres at their highest point.
Until 2007 when a major refurbishment of the Steps took place, some areas were considered unscaleable and tourists were warned not to attempt the hike. Even after the 2007 restoration that was a joint venture of the Gibraltar government, Ornithological and Natural History Society and the Bonita Trust, the Steps are not for the feint hearted and can still be dangerous. There are wooden posts connected by rope on the more difficult parts but some are wobbly or broken so best used as a helping guide rather than putting any weight on them.
Walking The Mediterranean Steps
The starting point of the Steps is at Jews Gate and follows Martin's Path before reaching the actual Steps. From there they wind their way to the highest point of the rock where hikers will find one of the old military defence points, O'Hara's Battery that still houses two 9.2 inch guns. Along the way there are other attractions to see including Goat's Hair Caves, which were actually sea caves way back when the sea level was higher, further up is an old tunnel and pumping station before reaching the upper ridge and O'Hara's Battery.
Flora & Fauna
During the hike to the summit visitors will get the chance to view some fantastic flora & fauna along the way including a good variety of both resident and migratory birds, many being majestic birds of prey such as Golden Eagles, Goshawks and various Buzzards and Vultures. The best time of year to hike the Mediterranean Steps is during the spring before the weather gets too hot and when the wildflowers wash the landscape in a rainbow of colour; be sure to look out for the Gibraltar Campion, one of the most rare and endangered plants in the world.
If your fitness level is not up to hiking the entire Mediterranean Steps route it is possible to ride the cable car to the Upper Rock terminus and join the Steps for the descent. Wear hiking boots or sturdy trainers and carry a hat, sunscreen, water, snack and of course, a camera.