St Michael's Cave is the name given to a network of limestone caves located in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve of Gibraltar, at a height of over 300 metres above sea level. According to Alonso Hernández del Portillo, the first historian of Gibraltar, its name is derived from a similar grotto in Monte Gargano near The Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo in Apulia, Italy, where the archangel Michael is said to have appeared. It is the most visited of the more than 150 caves found inside the Rock of Gibraltar, receiving almost 1,000,000 visitors a year.
The largest of the chambers, named the Cathedral Cave, currently serves as an auditorium. It was converted due to the chamber's natural acoustic properties, which according to experts, enhances and blends tones into a uniform and faithful rendition of sound. It is equipped with a concrete stage and has a seating capacity of over 100.
It has been a regular venue for events such as dramas and son et lumière shows as well as the annual Miss Gibraltar beauty pageant. The cave is also used to hold concerts of all music genres, from operas and philharmonic orchestras to pop and rock. Notable acts who have performed in the cave include Steve Hogarth and Breed 77.
Presently the cave is one of Gibraltar's top tourist attractions and is open daily to the public receiving almost 1,000,000 visitors a year. The cave formations are colourfully lit and visitors can read displays documenting the caves' history. It can be reached by car, taxi, cable car or by foot.
Guided tours of Lower St. Michael's Cave can also be arranged through the Gibraltar Tourist Board giving a minimum of three days prior notice. The cave is in a completely natural state, although fully lit and kitted out with ropes to aid minor climbing and scrambling. Safety helmets are provided and comfortable non-slip shoes are recommended. Group sizes range from a minimum of 5 to a maximum of around 10. Due to the tour's nature, children under the age of 10 are not allowed in.