CONTINUING the weekly review by John Smith on possible things to do in Gibraltar, we now turn to the Alameda Botanical Gardens.
Although Gibraltar is considered by many to be a crowded Rock with habitation clustered at the bottom, the Alameda Gardens which were established in 1816, just 11 years after the Battle of Trafalgar cover 15 acres disprove this.
The original intent was that there would be somewhere for off duty servicemen to spend some recreational time and the gardens were laid out with a number of tree covered walk ways in order to allow the soldiers to stroll in the shade.
Since that time, the gardens in Red Sands Road have been an oasis of calm and now offer a whole range of interesting options for residents and visitors alike.
Admission to the gardens is free and visitors can simply stroll around the grounds enjoying more than 2,000 species of flora, much of which is directly connected with the Mediterranean although there are also a number of controlled introduced species as well as butterflies galore.
Within the gardens which are open from 8am until 9pm, or sunset if earlier, is the Wildlife Conservation Park which was set up to care for exotic animals confiscated by Gibraltar customs, unwanted exotic pets and animals on loan from international zoos, to raise awareness of important endangered species through conservation education.
Open from 10am to 5pm, there are a number of exotic birds and reptiles as well as primates and even bats with admission costing £5 for adults with discounts for children and OAPs.
As you wander through the gardens, keep an eye out for Bicentenary House a brand new glasshouse, specially created to house two quite separate displays, one containing tropical plants and the other plants which live in dry and arid conditions.
You will also see The Dell, an intimate sub-tropical garden, created in the 19th Century which despite some entry restrictions is available to hire for weddings with guests overlooking the ceremony from the attractive bridge above.
Adjacent to this is the Lions Pond, created by the local Lions Club charity some 30 years ago which is a quiet and tasteful spot which may also be hired for wedding drinks following the ceremony at The Dell.
Also situated within the Gardens is the only open air theatre in Gibraltar which can seat up to 300 people and hosts a number of competitions and presentations during the year.
With a large car park which does allow some inexpensive paid non-resident parking outside the Gardens which are also very close to the cable car terminal and an Italian pizza restaurant you can easily spend several hours enjoying all that is on offer.