Renowned for millennia for its strategic position overlooking the Strait at the entrance to the Mediterranean, the top of the Rock of Gibraltar is still one of the most famous vantage points in Europe. Tourists – day-trippers, cruise passengers, back-packers, people on short city breaks, professionals taking a breather from business meetings – most people who visit Gibraltar want to see the breathtaking views from the top of this iconic mountain top; and many visit time and time again.
This year, there is an extra-special reason for getting to the top of the Rock: the spectacular Skywalk was opened to visitors in March, by no less than “Luke Skywalker” himself – in reality, Mark Hamill, the actor who played the famous character from the Star Wars movies. Flanked by members of Boogie Storm dance troupe, dressed in their trademark Stormtrooper outfits, Mr. Hamill fittingly wielded a lightsaber and told onlookers: “The force is strong with the Skywalk” as he cut the red ribbon in the opening ceremony.
Higher than the tallest point of London’s The Shard, the Skywalk stands 340m above sea level and offers 360˚ views across three countries, two continents and from one sea to where it joins the ocean. Already the Skywalk is welcoming a steady stream of visitors, readily accessible as it is from its links to other sites within Gibraltar’s Upper Rock Nature Reserve. A tour of Gibraltar’s Nature Reserve could include the thrill of crossing the Windsor Suspension Bridge, meeting the famous Barbary macaques at the Apes’ Den, and exploring the awe-inspiring beauty of St Michael’s Cave.
The Skywalk is built on the foundations of an existing WWII base, is designed to withstand wind speeds of over 150km/hour and can carry the weight of 340 people standing on it at the same time, although visitor numbers are limited to 50 at any one time. The walkway is 2.5m wide and projects a maximum of 6.7m from the main structural support point. 70m of rock anchors and 30,000kg of steel secure the Skywalk to the Rock. Of particular appeal to those with nerves of steel is that the floor and balustrade panels are made up of 4 layers of laminated glass, so the challenge is: can you walk in the sky and look down between your feet at the Rock of Gibraltar?
As the spring turns into summer and we are treated to the intense clarity of clear skies and warm sunshine, the Skywalk is set to become Gibraltar’s premier tourist attraction.