Gibraltar Airport – A Spectacular Start To Your Gibraltar Holiday
6 October 2023
Most likely the first thing you’ll see when you arrive in Gibraltar (Cruise Passengers excepted), Gibraltar’s airport is one of the Rock’s most fascinating features and is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on your holiday visit. It’s not just about the landing and take-off either, if you’re arriving in Gibraltar by land, it’s the first thing you’ll see & if you’re on foot, you’ll need to cross the runway to get anywhere in Gibraltar at all, including Bentley Holiday Apartments.
The Origins of the Airport
Tracing back to the 1930s, the land had a humble beginning as a horse-race track where locals gathered for equestrian competitions. But, with WWII looming large, the British military saw the strategic potential and converted the land into an airstrip in 1940. Originally a short strip, the runway was lengthened to stretch into the Gibraltar Bay to accommodate larger aircraft, and thus it has remained. One end backing onto the Mediterranean, the other on the Atlantic side and a road down the middle to allow essential access to the frontier with Spain. The transformation from a vital link during wartime, to a modern international airport has been gradual, and today welcomes visitors from around the globe with its one-of-a-kind charm and panoramic views of the north face of the Rock.
A Walk Across The Runway
Listed as one of the most unique and impressive airports in the world despite its size, possibly the most striking features is the road, Winston Churchill Avenue, which crosses, linking the town to the Frontier and Spain. Up until recently this road was the only land route connecting the border to the town, with vehicles and pedestrian access controlled with traffic lights and barriers whenever a plane is landing or taking off.
Take In The Breath-taking Views
The barriers on each side are a great vantage point for aircraft lovers or anyone looking for the novelty of seeing planes manoeuvring close-up, and walking across you’ll appreciate the 360-degree view with the two seas either side, East and West and the imposing vertical cliffs of the north face of the Rock when you look south. You’ll see the Tower of Homage (or Moorish Castle as it’s often mis-named) slightly to the right with the walls sloping down past the upper town towards the Bay. The views are particularly spectacular early morning with sunrise from the Mediterranean or evening sunset over the hills behind Algeciras in Spain.
Since its construction, Winston Churchill Avenue has been used by frontier workers who cross daily from Spain to their jobs on the Rock. From the mid 1900s Spanish merchants with their donkeys and carts, through to the modern-day professional with laptop & electric scooter.
The Modern-Day Runway Crossing
Inaugurated in early 2023, the Kingsway tunnel is the new access for cars, motorbikes and busses which bypasses the road crossing to avoid unnecessary delays and traffic build-ups. From the frontier, the road now takes a left, heading east past the state-of-the-art air terminal, which replaced the old, and was opened in two phases between 2011 and 2012. It then dips down through the tunnel underneath the Mediterranean end of the runway, to surface and join on to Devil’s Tower Road with access into town and to the business district, where you’ll find our WestOne apartments.
Pedestrians, cyclists, and electric scooter users still use the original road, which to all effects is a quicker way into town than the new bypass. But to avoid the wait from aircraft activity the tunnel can be used or they can simply wait patiently to continue while planes land and take-off.
The history and quirks of the airport and runway are a tale of transformation spanning nearly 100 years. You can’t help but see it up close when you visit the Rock and you’ll find plenty of vantage points in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, such as Princess Caroline’s Battery where you’ll have the luxury of watching planes take-off and land below you too. We could tell you so much more, but it’s probably best if you just pay us a visit & find out for yourself!