Saint Michael's Cave
Over countless millennia the gradual seepage of water through the porous limestone of Gibraltar's famous Rock has led to the formation of Saint Michael's Cave. Located about 300 metres above sea level in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, the cave can be reached on foot, by car or part of the way by taking the cable car and is a wonderful place to explore, especially during the scorching summer afternoons when the cave's interior is cool and welcoming. Colourful but subtle lighting has been installed so the cave doesn't feel gloomy and the lights reflect beautifully of the myriad of fantastically shaped stalagmites and stalactites.
As with cave systems the world over, there are many tales and legends surrounding Saint Michael's Cave, some saying it is the ‘Gates to Hades' and others believing the Barbary Macaques (monkeys) that inhabit the rock got there from Morocco through a subterranean tunnel within the cave system joining the two continents. Wall art found in the cave depicting an ibex show it was used by prehistoric man but a more recent discovery of Neanderthal skulls show the cave could have been used as far back as 40,000 BC.
However Saint Michael's Cave came to be, it has proved a popular place to visit for many years, the Victorians using it for grand banquets and parties. It is also thought the caves were used by various armies and marauding Barbary pirates as a resting place before venturing forth to wreak mayhem on their enemy. Nowadays the cave is one of Gibraltar's most popular tourist attractions, and its largest chamber called Cathedral Cave has been decked out with tiered seating and a central stage where members of the public visiting at the right time can enjoy a number of live performances. The cavernous space of Cathedral Cave produces wonderful natural acoustics and has been host to orchestras, beauty pageants, live bands and solo artists.