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Alameda Botanical Gardens in Gibraltar: A Lush, Serene Green Escape

Alameda Gibraltar Botanical Gardens offers beautiful gardens, Mediterranean and African flora with shady spots to sit and contemplate or just relax.

By Nick Nutter | Updated 11 Apr 2024 | Gibraltar | Places To Go | Login to add to YOUR Favourites Favourites Icon or Read Later

This article has been visited 12,911 times General Eliott General Eliott

General Eliott

The Alameda Gardens Established in 1816

The Alameda Gardens, officially known as the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, hold a storied history that dates back to their inception in 1816. Established by the Commander Lieutenant Governor Sir George Don, the gardens were designed as a recreational space for the officers of the garrison, offering a tranquil oasis amidst the fortifications of the Rock. This endeavor was not just about leisure; it also aimed to provide a demonstration of the variety of plant life that could thrive in Gibraltar’s climate, promoting botanical interest and education.

The Alameda Gardens, Gibraltar The Alameda Gardens, Gibraltar

The Alameda Gardens, Gibraltar

The gardens are laid out with interconnecting paths, water features and terraced beds formed from the local Jurassic limestone. At path junctions and other strategic places, you will find guns and artillery, commemorating Gibraltar’s military heritage. At the entrance are two of the four Russian cannon given to Gibraltar by Britain, for Gibraltar’s help during the Crimean War, in 1858.

Honouring George Augustus Eliott for His Role in the Great Siege

Giuseppe Codali Giuseppe Codali

Giuseppe Codali

In pride of place, atop a limestone column as you enter the gardens from the Alameda car park, is a bust of George Augustus Eliott, 1st Baron Heathfield, PC, KB. In 1777, Lieutenant-General Eliott was appointed Governor of Gibraltar and was promoted to full General in 1778.

The following year Gibraltar was besieged by Spanish and French troops. The siege lasted until 1783 when the French and Spanish admitted defeat. Eliott was credited, quite rightly, with holding the British forces together and maintaining morale and his leadership qualities in actions such as the ‘defeat of the floating batteries’.

He was invested as a Knight of the Bath immediately after what became known as ‘The Great Siege’.

Bust of Arthur Wellesley, War Hero & 1st Duke of Wellington

Wellington Wellington

Wellington

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS is also honoured.

His bust looks west over the Naval Dockyard. Wellington was instrumental in throwing the French out of Spain during the Peninsular War. His actions during the Battle of Vitoria in 1813 where he commanded a combined Spanish, Portuguese and British forces against the French army led by Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan earned him his promotion to Field Marshal.

Following the battle, many British soldiers looted the French baggage train of over one million pounds worth of booty, well over one hundred million pounds today, causing Wellington to write his famous line, “We have in the service the scum of the earth as common soldiers”.

He later, famously, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.

After his military career, Wellington went into politics and was Prime Minister from 1828 to 1830. In 1834 William IV dismissed the Whigs by a political coup, summoning the duke to form a ministry, but the 65-year-old duke replied that Peel must be prime minister.

He was nominally Prime Minister for a little under one month making this the shortest prime ministership in Great Britain. Most quiz masters do not recognise Wellington and nominate George Canning as the shortest serving Prime Minister, April to August 1827.

Molly Bloom and Gibraltar

Molly Bloom Molly Bloom

Molly Bloom

Visitors may wonder at the statue of Molly Bloom and her association with Gibraltar.Molly was a fictional character in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’. Gibraltar is one of the Pillars of Hercules to which Odysseus (Roman Ulysses), sailed.

The 1922 novel is about a very dreary, dull, post-war Dublin. In the last pages of the book, Molly gives a breathless soliloquy, recalling her days in Gibraltar, ‘the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the fig trees in the Alameda gardens… and the rose gardens and the jessamine [sic] and geraniums and cactuses…”, giving a hopeful splash of colour and hope of a brighter future.

The Dell

The Alameda Gardens, Gibraltar The Alameda Gardens, Gibraltar

The Alameda Gardens, Gibraltar

In the mid-19th Century, the Italian Giuseppe Codali designed ‘The Dell’, an Italianate style garden that is best viewed from the wisteria covered bridge above.

The Dell is often the setting for wedding photographs with the exceptionally beautiful large flowered hibiscus in the background or the two Lord Howe Island Palms that were donated to the gardens in 1941 by an elderly lady on the eve of her evacuation during WWII.

The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens Project

From 1973, the gardens fell into a state of disrepair and languished for almost twenty years.

In 1991, the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens Project began with aims to restore the aesthetic beauty and interest of the Alameda for the benefit of visitors to the gardens. The impressive remit includes establishing a living collection representative of Gibraltar and its hinterland and displaying a collection of plants from Mediterranean climatic zones around the world.

The project aims to contribute towards the conservation of the flora of Gibraltar and its hinterland and establish a collection of succulents from around the world. An active educational programme contributes towards the dissemination of information about plants, their economic value and their conservation.

Dragon Trees in the Alameda Gardens

As you wander around the Alameda, you will find continually changing vistas punctuated by the famous Dragon Trees.

The Dragon Tree comes from the Atlantic Islands of the Canaries, Madeira and Cape Verde. It is a member of the lily family, not a tree at all. The red resin, known as Dragon’s Blood, crystallises and was used medicinally. The smooth grey bark is reminiscent of an elephant’s hide. Its panicles of showy white flowers appear irregularly in summer and produce bright orange berry-like fruit in winter.

The oldest dragon tree in the gardens is probably about 300 years old, predating the gardens themselves. How they arrived there is a mystery. They will be there long after we depart this world as they are reputed to live for 1,000 years.

Birds, Bats, Reptiles and Moths in the Alameda Gardens

The gardens are also packed with wildlife, helped by the fact that only in extremis are pesticides and herbicides used in the Alameda.

Birds that nest in the garden include Blackcaps and Sardinian Warblers. Hoopoes pass through in spring and autumn. In winter, Booted Eagles have been known to hunt in the gardens whilst kestrels can be seen all year.

Reptiles include the harmless Horseshoe Whip Snake and the Moorish Gecko but it is the smallest mammals that thrive here. The Pipistrelle Bat is the most common and is sometimes about in the morning and late afternoons while the gardens are open.

At night, it is the turn of Schreiber’s Bat and the European Free-tailed Bat, fleeting shadows, flitting between the trees in a frantic search for airborne moths.

Visiting the Alameda Gardens

Visiting the Alameda Gardens in Gibraltar provides a lush, tranquil escape amidst the historical and natural landmarks of the Rock.

Today, they serve as a green oasis for both locals and visitors, showcasing a diverse collection of plants from around the world, historical monuments, and wildlife, all within a beautifully landscaped environment.

The Alameda Gardens are located at the southern end of Main Street, near the Cable Car base station, making them easily accessible on foot from the city centre. For those coming from further afield, you can get there by bus or taxi.

Entrance to the Alameda Gardens is free, making it a fantastic, budget-friendly option for travellers looking to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of Gibraltar. The gardens are open year-round, with each season offering its own charm. Spring is particularly beautiful as many of the plants are in bloom, but the lush greenery and shaded pathways provide a cool respite from the summer heat as well.

The Alameda Gardens often host cultural and educational events, including open-air concerts, theatrical performances, and guided tours.

Allow at least an hour to wander through the gardens, though you could easily spend longer if you're keen on botany, photography, or simply seeking a peaceful spot to relax. The gardens are designed to be accessible, with paved pathways and designated rest areas. However, some areas may have uneven terrain, so visitors with mobility issues are advised to check the map at the entrance for accessible routes.

Bring water and perhaps a snack, especially if you plan to spend a few hours. There are also spots within the gardens perfect for a picnic.

See the Best of Gibraltar

Beyond the Alameda Gardens, there's a lot to see and do in Gibraltar. A great way to access Gibraltar's top attractions is with the 1-day Gibraltar Pass.

This digital pass provides entry to over 15 of the territory's attractions including those in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. You'll get cable car access and free bus transport from border and cruise port to city centre & cable car (plus other freebies and discounts!).

Best of all, you can access the pass via your mobile phone and just scan it at the included attractions, making it convenient and hassle-free.

Get the Gibraltar Pass in advance here:

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More on Gibraltar

If you're based in Costa del Sol, an easy way to visit Gibraltar is on a Malaga to Gibraltar Day Tour.

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