ArticlePillars of Strength
While Gibraltar's history is full of excitement, and its political geography is quite special, what makes this tiny (6.7 square kilometers) piece of land truly unique is its unofficial status of the bridge/gateway to the Ancient World. As per Greek mythology, it was Heracles, a famous demigod/divine hero that helped to establish that status. Upon completing one of his Twelve Tasks, Heracles decided to commemorate his success - so, he broke the mountain that connected Africa and Europe, thus creating two huge pillars seen from far and wide. The Rock of Gibraltar is one of those pillars, and that sheds a whole new light on the well-known idiom “pillar of strength”.
Strength had for 2,5 centuries been the essence of Gibraltar's very existence. To be precise, military strength: the Rock was being used as a fortress securing British presence on the Continent and protecting British Fleet's access to the Strait. Unsurprisingly, much of the Museum of the Rock' exhibition is devoted to military exploits and soldiers' daily routine full of hardships and physical punishment
but also of occasional laughs - like when a soldier volunteered to climb inside a cannon to extricate a faulty piece of equipment (even though he might have felt much more amused after the deed than while performing it)
To be fair, there were some amazing technical achievements, too - for instance, a whole section of the museum covers a feat of installing a 100-ton cannon in 1883, a major engineering breakthrough for the period in question.
Mythology accounting for the origins of Gibraltar, and strength being such a key concept of life there, local art exhibitions are all too happy to contribute
Cultivating strength paid off big time in 1779-1783 when the Rock was sieged by allied Spanish-French forces siding with American colonies that were fighting for their independence from Great Britain. What became known as the Great Siege, lasted 3 years, 7 months and 12 days - and it failed to yield any results whatsoever. The fortress had never been breached, even though the city at its feet suffered from collateral damage and had to be rebuilt almost from scratch…