The People of Gibraltar
1333 - La Puerta de Granada - Una Torre Puerta


According to recent archaeological evidence la Puerta de Granada was probably built during the Marinid or Nasrid Moorish periods and probably dates from the 14th or 15th century. I can find no record of its original Moorish name but it almost certainly refers to that period of Gibraltar's history in which its rulers were allied to the Emirate of Granada.

The Marinid sultan, Abu'l Hasan who captured Gibraltar in 1333 with the aid of Mohammed V the Nasrid Emir of Granada - or perhaps his successor, Abu Inan - may have been responsible for ordering the gate to be built. It would explain why the gate is called la Puerta de Granada.

For many years it must have been the most important gate in town surpassing in usefulness the original Bab-al-Fath - the Gate of Victory - in that it faced north towards Spain rather than south.1 
( see LINK )


La Puerta de Granada in 1567

Archaeological evidence describes its structure as that of a  a 'tower-gate' with two defensive elements with an eastern structure of considerable height. The location of the gate on the north wall of the Castle complex was about 30 meters above sea level. The actual entrance was in the form of an arch. 1a


Reconstruction of la Puerta de Granada - The pillars supporting the upright framework have been recently uncovered by a team from the Gibraltar Museum.  
A =Defensive  tower 
B = Western upright framework  
C = Arched gateway  
D = Eastern upright framework 
E = Access to tower  
F = Guard house   1

La Puerta de Granada may have been either the second or third gate ever built in the town of Gibraltar and for many years remained the one and only land entrance from Spain into Villa Vieja. Its approach from the isthmus was via a gentle slope rising from sea-level up to the lower sections of the northern defensive walls. 2  

The pathway to it was protected on the west by a wall known in the 16th century as the Muralla de San Juan  which may have been of Spanish origin.  The construction of the Puerta de Tierra allowing entrance from the Barcina during the Spanish era added a second entry point from Spain.  ( see LINK )  

We also have pictorial evidence as to what the gate looked like in the 16th century as the Dutch artist Van den Wyngaerde sketched it in 1567. ( see LINK )


Puerta de Granada on top, Puerta de Tierra below it,  almost at sea level  ( 1567 - Van den Wyngaerde )

The gate was still standing in the early 17th as it also appears in various plans by Luis Bravo de Acuña which are dated 1625 and 1627 - although one of his captions refers to it as Puerta de Villa Vieja. His contemporary Alonso Hernández del Portillo knew it by its original name of Puerta de Granada.




Puerta de Granada shown on the middle left just above the double gates of the Puerta de Tierra/ Puerta de España. Two further defensive gates seem to have been built in front of the Granada gate along the Muralla de San Juan   ( 1625 - Luis Bravo de Acuña - acknowledgements to Tito Vallejo ) 



The Northern defences   
A = Puerta de Villa Vieja - Puerta de Granada
B = Puerta de Tierra
Note that the the two extra gates north of the Puerta de Granada are simply referred to as Dos Puertas  . . .            ( 1627 - Luis Bravo de Acuña - Detail )

The Gate remained in good shape at least right up to the early 17th century in which despite its obvious antiquity and Moorish origins it was described as appearing to have just been built.

According to Alonso Hernández del Portillo, the top of the gate was decorated with an emblem or badge in the form of a key similar to that found in another gate in the south-west of Gibraltar - the Puerta de Algeciras - which was also of similar construction. 4

Nevertheless the Puerta de Granada was perhaps not much used during the late 15th and early 16th century. Portillo claims that the other gate on the northern defences - la Puerta de Tierra had its own governor or warden because it was the only exit towards Spain at the time 5

The Puerta de Granada seems to have survived the bombardments of the Gunner's War in 1727 as there is map evidence that it was still standing after that date. The new British occupiers, however, seem not to have been too enamoured with its original Spanish name and rather clumsily referred to it as 'the Gate near the Castle, now ye communication to the Round Tower'.


Z is 'The Gate near the Castle is now ye communication to the Round Tower' ( 1704 - Col D'Harcourt - Detail  )


Y is the Puerta de Granada  (1733 - Homannishen Erben - Detail )



This picture is a detail of a larger one dated 1782. It probably represents the Rock during the Great Siege. The Gate of Granada is still an arched gateway with towers on either side. Other changes can probably be blamed on either William Skinner and/or William Green ( from Tito Vallejo ) 

The eventual date of the destruction of the Puerta de Granada is hard to pin-point but probably took place in late 18th century during or just after the Great Siege. 


Main Street Gibraltar looking north shortly after the Great Siege  ( 1793 - Capt Thomas Davis ) 


1. H.T. Norris - Ibn Battutah's Andalusian Journey -
The lower sections of the Qasabah contained extensive living quarters, cisterns and gardens. below the lowest section lay a district known as Villa Vieja by the Spaniards. This was probably the original nucleus of the city and was enclosed within its own walls which had several gateways, probably the most important being the Granada Gate.

1a. José Giles Guzmán, Francisco G. Pacheco, Clive Finlayson - La Puerta de Granada - 2009
La técnica empleada en la construcción está en consonancia con las utilizadas en periodos anteriores como son el merini y el nasari . . . .  fechada en este periodo que abarca los siglos XIV y XV . . . .

. . . La puerta de Granada podemos definirla  . . .  como una torre-puerta de ingreso directo, con dos principales elementos defensivos  . . . 

. . . el dintel de la puerta . .  parece indicar una entrada a partir de un arco de medio punto, entendemos que la boveda resultante sería de características similares o si acaso variando hacia una bóveda de espejos, característica en el mundo meriní . . . 

2. Darren Fa and Clive Finlayson - Fortifications of Gibraltar - 2006
The approach to this gate was via a gentle sloping ramp that ascended to the Rock's north-west face . . . Part of it provided the foundations for later northern defences. 

3. Alonso Hernández del Portillo - Historia de Gibraltar -  17th C
 . .  una de las puertas de esta ciudad que está en Villa Vieja de ella, que dicen La Puerta de Granada, obra morisca y muy de ver, que con ser antiquísima parece que se acabo  hoy de hacer, y es de admirable arquitectura, es esculpida una llave por la qual se entiende y por la tradición que traemos  de padre a hijos que los moros tenían a esta Ciudad en España, o de su Reino en Granada.

4 . Alonso Hernández del Portillo - Historia de Gibraltar - 17th C
. . . una puerta morisca muy galana, que llamaban la puerta de Algeciras donde estaba otra llave como la que dijimos verse hoy en la puerta de Granada y de aquella misma fábrica. 

5 . Alonso Hernández del Portillo - Historia de Gibraltar - 17th C
Queda en este muro la Puerta de Tierra con su Alcayde, y dice se así porque por ella, y no por otra, se sirve esta ciudad por la tierra . . .