Locally known as the central plaza, Casemates Square is the largest square (plaza) in Gibraltar. It is situated right at the bottom of Main Street and has a plethora of restaurants bars and cafes, in which you can sit back and 'people watch' until your heart's content. During the long hot summer months you will always see crowds of people who are taking a break from the heat of the day whilst casually sipping an ice cold 'cerveza' or a refreshing glass of wine. It really is the place to see, and indeed be seen.
The word 'Casemates' or 'Casemate' means a fortified position or gun emplacement and there is a very good reason why this is so called. It was originally built as a fortified area in the 14th century, after the Spanish managed to fight off the Moors. It remained this way until the 18th century when the British gained control. They decided to build a new walled fortress with battlements on much higher ground and were still building it when the Spanish and French mounted their attack on the rock (known as the great siege).
Consequently after four years of constant barrage by the opposing forces, parts of the old fort and some of the buildings contained within, were flattened. As a result, the British decided to demolish the ruins leaving a wide open space. This became what we now know as Casemates Square. However it wasn't originally used for wining, dining, and relaxing. In fact until 1864 it became one of the main sites for public executions on the rock and also doubled as a military parade ground.
When it comes to nightlife, Gibraltar comes into its own in the square. During the evenings when the sun goes down, guests can be wined and dined at any of the bars, cafe's and restaurants located here. As well as this, there are regular bands playing everything from sultry flamenco to good old fashioned rock 'n' roll. If you want a choice of food, there are the old favourites such as Pizza Hut and Burger King. Or if you fancy something a little more authentic, then why not sample the delights of some veal, pork, anchovies or octopus all served as mouth-watering 'raciones'. If you want to sample some of the best steak and seafood on Gibraltar then a visit to the Lord Nelson is a must. Alternatively, if it's Italian cuisine that you're after then a visit to Cafe Solo is well worth it.
As well as eating, drinking, people watching, and music, there are several other Gibraltar attractions that are located right here in the square. When you travel to Gibraltar, you may be lucky enough to time your visit with one of the many events that are held in the square during the year. The Gibraltar Glass works is also located on the square and here you can watch the glass blowers doing their thing. In addition there is a museum on the premises displaying some some valued pieces of glass. You can also treat yourself to all manner of glassware from the on-site gift shop.
A Koehler depression gun carriage takes centre stage in the square. Invented by Lieutenant Koehler iit was used to fire down on the enemy during the great siege. There is also a lifelike statue of a soldier which was made in 2004 to commemorate the Gibraltar regiment and their dedication to the protection of the rock.
As you can see, no matter what time of the year, there is always something going on in Casemates Square. In fact it's an all year round hive of activity, a place that mixes history with modernity, fun with tradition and food with wine. As a result, it's one place that you have to simply have to visit during your stay in Gibraltar.
Photos By Leo Hayes
Check out this Casemates Square Video:
Created by Gold Productions Studios