200 years of The Alameda Gibraltar Botanical Gardens by Gibraltar Tours
It was The Alameda Gardens 200 year anniversary this week and it’s one of those places in Gibraltar which I think locals love but also think we should take more advantage of and visit a lot more often.
It’s since …..forever been the perfect place to have those family photos for weddings and communions, I dare to say that all Gibraltarians have had a photo taken here as some point in their lives…..but it really isn’t just for those special occasions…. Bit of history coming up….
Most of Gibraltar’s history is military, mind set was to defend the many attempts at conquest of the Rock and sieges. This meant that it wasn’t until about the 1800’s that anyone really took a hard look at what was necessary for the well being of those who lived on the Rock day to day.
Sir George Don, who was then the Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar, was viewed as being probably the first public leader of Gibraltar who dedicated any public resources to the well being of the general population, including founding a hospital for civilians.
About 1815 he is noted as stating that in consideration of the fact that “there being no place of public recreation in this Garrison” he “was induced…..to establish a walk around the Grand Parade, and form what is called in this country an Alameda, where the inhabitants might enjoy the air protected from the extreme heat of the sun”.
Sir George’s Mission to develop the recreational area was funded with contributions and through charity events and lotteries not public money.
The Grand Parade, was a grounds used for assembly and other purposes, including a sort of planning and building area, a vegetable garden for the troops during the siege times and also as a cemetery in other areas.
Gradually the land around that Parade was built up, and was gradually expanded to include about 8 hectares for what is now called Alameda Gardens.
The name used is taken from the Spanish, Alamo, ( popular tree ) which is a tree that according to the older writings, was grown along the Grand Parade. Alameda Garden was opened in 1816, and was covered by the local paper, The Gibraltar Chronicle, who are quoted as saying, “The walks at the New Alameda being completed they will be opened to the public tomorrow afternoon, at 4 o’clock, when three Bands of Music will attend.”
The gardens were laid out in with paths that intersected and interconnected, beds were terraced and much of it was done in the Jurassic limestone that is native to the area,. Later, gas lights were adding and a whale’s jawbone was used to make an archway in the gardens. You can still see this there today.
Guiseppe Codali an Italian landscapist that settled on the Rock, took on the role as head gardener and horticulturist, in the late 1800’s.He designed one of the most prominent features in the Gardens known as the “the dell “
Under the bridge you can witness wedding ceremonies alongside the famous castle & key embedded in the soft grass of the sunken garden. Beautiful bright orange fish in pond and cascading water are beautiful backdrops for any wedding.
The gardens went along quite well used but eventually the gardens were poorly managed and had become unsightly in areas, until the early 1990’s when the Gibraltar Government consulted with a group of environmental managers and consultants who were then contracted to take the gardens in hand, bring them back up to its former glory and manage them.
They were converted into the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, with a view toward continued development of the gardens to promote conservation, education and simply enjoyment of the gardens themselves.
School trips for younger children seem to be on the rise as it also houses a the small zoo this is always popular with the younger ones. There is a fee for entry for this area but the rest of the Gardens can be visited free of charge.
They are open as from 8am until sunset.
You may see the Alameda Botanical gardens at least the side entrance as you go up towards the upper Rock on the Gibraltar Tour on the right hand side…. But if you got time on your hands and want to wander the gardens and enjoy the plants and birds. This is a good place for you….. watch out for those wedding photographers if you go on a weekend…. You don’t want to photo bomb the bride and Groom.
Thanks for touring the Rock with Gibraltar Tours and hope you found this interesting and helpful. Until the next time….