1883 - Leo de Colange - Eyeing with Contempt
The richly illustrated Picturesque European Cities and the equally graphic The Picturesque World; Or, Scenes in Many Lands both contain chapters with a short descriptions Gibraltar written by Leo de Colange. Both are exactly the same and both are illustrated by the same single engraving by Gustav Doré.
The Rock of Gibraltar (Gustave Doré) (seeLINK)
The Rock of Gibraltar forms the southwestern extremity of the province of Andalusia. Though for many years this celebrated fortress was the pride and glory of Spain, the Spaniard of to-day scowls as he beholds the red cross of St. George flying from the fortifications, and sighs that the most impregnable fortress in the world is in the permanent possession of a foreign nation.
Situated, with but one exception, upon the most southerly extremity of Europe, the Rock of Gibraltar commands the whole of the western coast of Spain, comprising nearly two thirds of the coast-line of the country. This rock rises abruptly on its northern side (a view of which we present) to a height of thirteen hundred feet above the level of the sea. Its immense size is a source of astonishment to the beholder.
Its height and extent must be seen to be fully appreciated. From the east, seen from the Atlantic, it has the appearance of a great lion, with its head turned towards the land. The
approaches from the sea and from the land bristle with guns, and the fortress has been pronounced by the most skilled engineers to be impregnable by assault.
Famine, against which the British government amply provides, would be the only possible method by which this fortress could be forced to surrender. The rock is perforated by numerous natural caverns, which have been artificially enlarged and made subservient to the purpose for which the rock is used. These corridors are perforated with port-holes, which are so arranged as to cover any attack by sea or land.
As the steamer approaches nearer the rock, we notice that the rock is covered with rich and abundant vegetation, and the captain informs us that it is so even in mid-winter. On reaching the landing-place, one is astonished at the activity of the town of Gibraltar. As we pass along the streets towards our hotel, we see persons of various nations, who seem to be busy — a great contrast to some of the Spanish towns which we shall have occasion to visit.
You enter the city through a large square, and find yourself in the principal street of the city of Gibraltar. A quaint and picturesque street it is; some of the shops are elegant, while others are old-fashioned and dilapidated. The inhabitants are as varied and picturesque in their costume as the architecture of the city.
The jaunty, red-coated English soldier walks stiffly along the street, eying with contempt the swarthy Spaniard. The men of Fez or Tangier, in their rich garments interwoven with gold, pass the delicate forms of the Andalusian girls, or are jostled by the portly wives of English soldiers. The turbaned Moor, the handsome Greek, the Jew from Africa, meet and pass each other constantly.
Gibraltar is not a magnificent city; the houses are neither large nor elegant, and the every-day life of the British colony has done away with the spirit of Spanish-Moorish romance. The Park offers some fine views, as, in fact, what part of Gibraltar does not ; but if one would have the finest prospect, let him ascend to the signal station which stands on the highest point of the rock and from which, as from the clouds, one enjoys with delight the
imposing and magnificent panorama.
From this bare ridge are seen to the southward, on the opposite side of the Straits, the undulating shores of Africa, with the Abyla of the ancients lifting its hoary and generally cloud-capped head high in air. To the east, the Mediterranean stretches out in boundless prospect; its calm waters lie as if in sleep, and the white sails of the little craft that skim its surface appear like specks of foam.
On the northern side rise the mountains of Granada, the Alpuxarras and the Sierra Nevada, their lofty summits covered with snow, or buried in thick clouds. To the west, the Bay of Gibraltar lies beneath our feet; on the opposite side stands the town of Algeziras, and behind it rise the mountains which form a part of the Granada chain.