Following an incredibly lengthy and stringent process of application by the Gibraltar Museum, Gorham’s Cave, its sister caves and the surrounding cliffs, including the Mediterranean Steps, have been granted UNESCO World Heritage site status. As Gibraltar’s first site to be inscribed on the prestigious list, it joins various well protected and highly regarded sites in the UK, from the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, to Stonehenge and the Tower of London. Gorham’s Cave has been recognised for its archeological importance for many years , most recently, a rock engraving was discovered and is said to be one of the most significant symbols to have been found in relation to Neanderthals.

The decision was made by the World Heritage Committee during its 40th Session, held in Istanbul, Turkey. Museum Director Professor Clive Finlayson declared that the result was a fairy tale come true. He went on to say, ‘none of us could have suspected all those years ago when we started this project that we would be here today. I wish to thank my wife Geraldine, who has been with me in this project from the very beginning, for her encouragement, belief and professionalism; and my son Stewart who grew up in Gorham’s Cave and has been a staunch companion, full of ideas, throughout the process.’

For his part, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo insisted that the Rock of Gibraltar had been one of the universal markers of the known world in ancient times, mariners stopping and paying tribute to the gods precisely in Gorham’s Cave. Gorham’s Cave is one of the last known homes for Neanderthals in Europe. The complex awarded the World Heritage status also includes Vanguard Cave, Hyaena Cave, and Bennett’s Cave, as well as the surrounding cliffs, up to the peak of the Rock.