A new way of looking at the Gorham's Cave complex

The platform was inaugurated on Wednesday.
The platform was inaugurated on Wednesday. / SUR
  • Visits to the caves have to be restricted, but a new viewing platform offers new perspectives of Gibraltar's World Heritage Site

A new viewing platform for the Gorham's Cave complex was inaugurated on Wednesday by the Minister for Heritage, Professor John Cortes.

Gorham's Cave is the last known home of the Neanderthals and it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.

The new viewing platform offers unique perspectives of the whole site, which covers 280,000 square metres, or three per cent of Gibraltar's land area, from the sea all the way up to the highest point of the Rock at O'Hara's Battery (which is 426 metres above sea level) and including the famous Mediterranean Steps.

Visits to the cave complex have to be restricted because they are archaeologically so sensitive, so the viewing platform and information panels have been planned as a way of enabling people to learn more about this important part of Gibraltar's history without causing any damage to the site.

The viewing platform will be managed by the Gibraltar Museum, which also runs the UNESCO World Heritage Office on behalf of the Gibraltar government's Ministry for Heritage.

The new facility will initially be open from Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 2pm. Access is free of charge to holders of Gibraltar identity cards, if these are shown at the ticket office, as part of the authorities' commitment to make the heritage of Gibraltar freely available to local people.

It is possible for the facility to be opened at other times for group visits, if this is arranged in advance.

As well as the information panels, visitors to the viewing platform will also find specialist staff on site to explain exactly what they are seeing from this unique location.

Further improvements are currently being prepared and will be announced in the New Year. Work at Gorham's and Vanguard Caves is also set to continue in 2018, with two months of excavations planned during the summer.

Invaluable information

The Neanderthals are known to have been in Gibraltar for a very long time, between 127,000 and 32,000 years ago, and the Gorham's Cave complex has proven to be of major significance in understanding the global story of human evolution and adaptation.

Excavations which have been carried out in the caves over the past 26 years have revealed invaluable information about how the Neanderthals and early humans lived and behaved, what they ate, what they wore, their social behaviour and the tools and materials they used. They have also provided a wealth of information about the wildlife of Gibraltar at that time.