With probably one of the best views in Gibraltar, O’Hara’s Battery sits proud at an incredible elevation of 1383 feet (421 meters) above sea level right next to the Rock’s highest summit, near the southern end of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. The artillery battery is located in close proximity to Lord Airey’s Battery and Spur Battery, positioned at the end of O’Hara’s Road, also known as O’Hara’s Point.
Named after General Charles O’Hara, Governor of Gibraltar 1795-1802, it was originally the location of an unsuccessful attempt of his to build a watchtower from which the garrison could keep tabs on any possible enemy at Cadiz harbour, an incredible 60 miles (100 kms) away. Having failed its intended purpose, the garrison began referring to the tower as O’Haras Folly.
Its interesting to know that O’Hara’s Folly was not the only nickname associated with the governor. Charles O’Hara was an extremely popular Governor of Gibraltar and was soon nicknamed “Cock-of-the-rock”. He was known as a handsome, ornate officer who dressed with attire of an earlier era, a style of the mid-18th century.
There are numerous references to his governorship commenting about the extravagant parties he hosted, lavishing hospitality on even the humblest of his guests. Mary Berry, a writer who he met in Italy and was engaged to but never married, described him as “the most perfect specimen I ever saw of the soldier and courtier of the last age.”
One of only two governors of Gibraltar that were actually buried here, his remains were placed in the King’s Chapel, a memorial plaque still on exhibit today. His obituary in The Gentlemen’s Magazine read: “The General’s death is much felt and lamented in Gibraltar. Few men possessed so happy a combination of rare talents. He was a brave and enterprising soldier, a strict disciplinarian, and a polite accomplished gentleman.”
O’Hara’s tower survived until 1888, when discussions ended in scheduling its demolition. A bet was made between the officers of HMS Wasp and the gunners of the Garrison. With both parties blasting away at the tower, it was ultimately the men of the HMS Wasp who split the tower down the middle with their sixth shot.
The tower was finally removed and in 1890 the battery had its first gun installed on a Vavasseur mounting, a 6-inch breech loading gun.
This was replaced in 1901, by a 9.2 inch Mark X BL gun which had an incredible range of 16 miles (25.7 kms), aided immensely by its height above sea level. What’s incredible about it, is that in theory it was capable of firing a shot right across the entire Strait of Gibraltar, reaching the African shore, only 14 miles (22.5 kms) away! The only other addition to O’Hara’s battery was a steel shield that was installed in 1934, aiding to protect against small arms fire and splinters. O’Hara’s battery remained active during World War II, its gun last fired during training exercises on the 7th April 1976.
Today, the gun and infrastructure at the O’Hara’s Battery site have been refurbished, and since May 2010, the Government of Gibraltar opened O’Hara’s Battery to the public. No cars are allowed up here, so unless you took a taxi tour, the easiest way to get here is a 10 min walk from the Cable Car Top Station. Basically, take the cable car to the top station, then walk down towards Saint Michael’s Cave. About half way down you will see a fork in the road that will lead you to O’Hara’s Battery.
If you are feeling daring and full of energy, your other option is to walk up the Mediterranean Steps. The gateway to O’Hara’s Battery is located right along from where the Mediterranean Steps emerge at the top. Either way you decide to get up here, with such an unforgettable view and amazing history you will be well pleased you took the time to do so.
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Did the trek up the Mediterranean Steps to see OHaras Battery. That in itself was an amazing hike. The views are incredible the whole way up. The WW2 buildings and caves along the way were good to see as well. As for Oharas Battery at the top. All I can say is that was it was serious sense of achievement getting up there in the first place, and then the reward of looking out over the entire ...
Did the trek up the Mediterranean Steps to see OHaras Battery. That in itself was an amazing hike. The views are incredible the whole way up.
The WW2 buildings and caves along the way were good to see as well. As for Oharas Battery at the top. All I can say is that was it was serious sense of achievement getting up there in the first place, and then the reward of looking out over the entire Rock and Spain was just brilliant.
The Gun at OHaras Battery is huge as well. You dont realise how big it actually is until you standing next to it.
If you plan to see OHaras, I would definitely recommend you taking the Mediterranean Steps if you can, you wont regret it.