Sunday, 26 June 2011

Great Siege tunnels get a facelift

GIBRALTAR (Agencies) The tunnels that were used during the Grat Siege of Gibraltar in the late 1700s have undergone renovation the result of which were revealed recently when Minister of Tourism, Ernest Britto, and Chief Executive of the refurbishing project, Marcello Sanguinetti, made the official presentation. It is hoped that the tunnels will become as popular with tourists as St. Michael's Cave, and have been set up as 'an experience'. As the Gibraltar Chronicle puts it in article by intern Rachael Benaim:>>>
The primary objective was to “make the tunnels as interesting as possible” for visitors of all ages and nationalities. As such, 6 languages were added to the audio box tours- as opposed to the previous language option, only English.
New prints and pictures are on display in the tunnels as well. The project designer, Anselmo Torres, said that the most difficult part of his job was “finding the images.” He had to search through Gibraltar museums and archives; however, because he was still missing a few key images after searching in Gibraltar, he travelled to the U.K. and searched many a museum archive until he found the most appropriate prints.

There is a wealth of information in the tunnels. The new language features coupled with the informative and vivid images, will allow everyone to glean the knowledge and history infused in the tunnel.
The phased programme was spread over four years to allow the GTB to maintain the site open at all times and has resulted in a complete transformation of the visitor experience at this unique tourist site within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

A GTB spokesman said: “The tunnel itself is of immense historical importance to Gibraltar for it became one of the main bastions of its defence strategy. Tunnelling commenced on the 25th May 1782 and it was a major feat of engineering that eventually led to the creation of St. George’s Hall, underneath “The Notch” on the North face of the Rock.

“The first part of the refurbishment programme involved the re-wiring of all the electrical points and the provision of new lighting and this has acted as a basis for the rest of the works.

“Whilst this was going on, research was being conducted to map out all the exhibits and interpretation panels. This was carried out by Garry Hall from H&H Sculptors, a company that has close links with Gibraltar as they provide the models that are found in many of our tourist sites. Close consultation was maintained with local experts to confirm the source material but it was quickly found that there was a wealth of important information and this led to an ever increasing number of panels that needed to be prepared.

Minister Britto, as the Minister of Tourism, addressed the tourism industry in Gibraltar in relation to this new opening. The Rock, he said, benefits from being small like a theme park but rich in sites and heritage.

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