Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pillars of Hercules

According to Greek mythology, when Hercules had to perform twelve tasks, one of them was to bring the Cattle of Geryon from the West to Eurystheus. On his way he had to cross what is now known as the Atlas Mountains.

Instead of climbing the mountains, as he easily could, he used his superhuman strength and his indestructible mace and split the mountains in half. That split connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and the rocky outcrops left behind on either side became known as the Pillars of Hercules.

The stretch of water between the two is now known as the Gibraltar Strait, and it was these pillars that the Mediterranean people believed nothing lay beyond except wild seas, the lost continent of Atlantis and the Isles of Hesperides.

On the northern side is the Rock of Gibraltar and on the south, Monte Hacho also known as Jebel Musa, in Ceuta.

The Gibraltar Strait is just 7.7 nautical miles or 14.24 km of sea at its narrowest point and it ranges between a depth of 300 and 900 metres. It is a natural gateway from the calm salty waters of the Mediterranean Sea with almost no tides into the rougher tidal Atlantic Ocean.

No comments: