Anyone in Gibraltar on Tuesday evening could have been forgiven for thinking they had been transported into a Star Wars movie, as Luke Skywalker himself (actor Mark Hamill) was in town, accompanied by the 'dancing stormtroopers' Boogie Storm.
All was made clear at his appearance in John Mackintosh Square, however, when it was revealed that Mark would be officially opening Gibraltar's latest attraction, the awe-inspiring Skywalk, on Wednesday morning.
The Skywalk is a glass-floored walkway, 340 metres above sea level, which is higher than the Shard building in London. It has incredible views over three countries and two continents, and projects out from the Rock to a distance of 6.7 metres at its maximum point. The floor and protective balustrades are made up of four layers of laminated glass, giving a total thickness of 4.2 centimetres.
Built on the foundations of an existing base structure dating back to the Second World War, the Skywalk is designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 150 kilometres an hour, and can bear the weight of 340 people, although only 50 are authorised to use it at any time. It is held secure by 70 metres of rock anchors and 30,000 kilos of steel.
Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, was at the inauguration and couldn't wait to try the Skywalk for himself, with his wife Justine. He said: “At the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, the Skywalk will serve as a stunning attraction for years to come and it is only fitting that Mr Hamill, best known as Luke Skywalker himself, should take the first steps.”
After the inauguration, Mark Hamill tweeted: “Why they would ever invite me to the opening ofsomething called “#Skywalk” remains a mystery, but it was beyond thrilling to @visit_gibraltar! Stunningly beautiful, marvellous Macaques and truly friendly folks who all got selfies whether they wanted them or not.”
Just before the inauguration, the Gibraltar authorities announced that entry to the Skywalk will be free of charge to everybody until 1 April. After that, it will be free for local residents but there will be a charge for visitors.
The Skywalk will be linked to other popular attractions in Gibraltar such as the Windsor Suspension Bridge and the Apes' Den by walking trails. It is open daily from 7am to 10pm.
Further information can be obtained from the website www.skywalk.gi