The People of Gibraltar
1596 - Capitán Cristóbal de Rojas - According to Plan 


Luis Bravo de Laguna and el Frattino  - Tiburcio Spanochi and Licenciado Cedillo   
Maestro mayor Diego Rodríguez  and Juan Álvarez Davi  - Captain General  Luis Fajardo, 
Duke of Medina Sidonia and Alonso de Vildevira  - Luis de Taren
Fernando Quesada Ulloa and Juan Battista Antonelli - Jerónimo de Soto and General Juan de Zuñega 

In 1596 the city of Seville petitioned the Phillip II of Spain to improve the fortifications of Cadiz and Gibraltar. The reason for this petition stemmed from the assault on Cadiz by Anglo-Dutch forces a few months earlier in which the town had been thoroughly sacked and a large number of buildings destroyed. 1


1596 - Battle of Cadiz   ( 1606 - Aert  Anthonisz ) 

A 'who's who' list of the best engineers of the period - Captain Cristóbal de Rojas, Luis Bravo de Laguna, el Frattino, Tiburcio Spanochi - all offered - or had already offerred- their suggestions

Very little is known of Cristobal de Rojas. He may have been born in Toledo, perhaps in 1550's and may have been educated in the University of his home town. What is known is that Rojas made a name for himself as an assistant to Juan de Herrera in the construction of the Monastery of the Escorial and then later as an architect in Seville which he used as his home base for many years. 2 His 1597 book on the Teoría y práctica de la Fortificación - the very first on the subject ever published in Spain - reinforced his fame as a top-notch engineer. A year earlier Phillip II had made him his official engineer.


Capitán Cristóbal de Rojas ( unknown ) 

It was perhaps then not very surprising that the King seems to have preferred Rojas' proposals. The following year he was ordered him to start work in Cadiz.  His instructions were to give preference to the fortifications of this city but also find time to inspect those of Gibraltar. 

In December 1598 after working in Cadiz for some time he managed to fit in a visit to the Rock and soon realised that there was far too much to be done for him to tackle it himself. He advised the King that he should appoint in his place 'un hombre de ciencia y conciencia' and recommended another engineer - the Licenciado Cedillo - who in turn would receive help from the architect or Maestro mayor, Diego Rodriquez.

The King agreed with  Rojas' proposals and ordered him to construct;
. . . .un medio baluarte, cuya cortina debía cerrar con la peña tajada y por encima de las peñas continuar el parapeto hasta el puerto del Falcón, para que todo el espacio nombrado el Salto del Lobo hasta el castillo viejo, quedase asegurado . . . 3

Defensive line from the Calahorra - the Moorish Castle - to the Puerta de Tierra. No mention of any Puerto del Falcon. The Salto del Lobo would have been the are just above the precipice to the east of the Castle  ( 1600s - Cristóbal de Rojas )

In 1604 Rojas surveyed the Old Mole and found it in very poor condition. It was his opinion that unless something were done immediately, the coming winter storms would almost certainly destroy it completely.



Plan for repairs to the old Mole ( 1605 - Unknown )

Meanwhile Marina de Bassosabal, the woman he had married in 160o gave birth to Bartolomé de Rosas his one and only son.  His constant voyages to and from Cadiz, Madrid and his home meant that his work in Cadiz suffered accordingly and his position as chief engineer became untenable. 

Meanwhile in 1606 the Italian engineer Tiburzio Spanochi presented an estimate for the repairs of the Old Mole. Despite the expense - 5000 ducats for the repairs and another 12000 in order to extend the length of the mole by some 200 feet - Spanochi's proposal were accepted and the work was promptly passed on to Rojas. This rather abrupt change of plan was almost certainly due to  Spanochi's death in 1606 and the fact that Rojas was seriously in need of a job.

Whatever the case, a serious lack of ready cash ensured that both the repairs and the reconstruction proceeded  at a veritable snail's pace. The fact that Rosas essentially continued to be an absentee overseer during this period did not make things any easier either. Some twenty years later, Alonso Hernández del Portillo ( see LINK ) still remembered a time when the mole was practically non-existent.
y entonces entraba la mar . . . hasta dicha atarazana y aun dentro de ella por esta casi enfrente y sin ningún impedimento; pues en nuestros días a antes de la fabrica del muelle vimos todos entrar la mar por esta otra puerta hasta dentro de las casas . 4
The delay proved catastrophic. Two years later with the Old Mole still in a state of total disrepair, Spanish galleys under Juan Álvarez Davila's were heavily defeated by a Dutch fleet commanded by Jacob van Heemskerk in the Battle of Gibraltar.  

The post mortem excuse for this defeat was that the enemy armada had been much bigger than that of the Spaniards and that their ships had been more powerful. But not everything on the Spanish side was exonerated. The damaged and unfortified Old Mole in the north had certainly not made matters any easier. ( see LINK

Rosas was recalled. He arrived in Gibraltar in 1608 with Luis Fajardo, Captain General of the Napolitan Galleys. They came to a very quick conclusion.  The Old Mole still needed repairing and cleaning up and a new one needed building in the south. 


The Bay of Gibraltar  ( Cristóbal de Rojas )


1608 - Old Mole area   ( Detail from map - Cristóbal de Rojas )


Planta y perfil del muelle de Gibraltar que demuestran las partes destruidas que hay que reparar y lo que se mantiene en pie en donde se ven varios barcos cuatro de ellos amarrados . . .   ( 1608 - Probably by Cristóbal de Rojas )

Rojas proposals for the Old Mole were fully with the Duke of Medina Sidonia who in turn passed the matter on to the King who approved them in principle. The engineer returned once more to Gibraltar with his Cadiz architect, Alonso de Vildevira and Luis de Taren well known for his work on the new mole in Malaga. Things seemed to be going well when Fernando Quesada Ulloa wrote to the Duke of Medina Sidonia. Everything was going according to plan. 

Rojas must have felt well satisfied with this state of affairs when he returned to Cadiz leaving Valdevira in charge of the project. The necessary lime kilns were set up in Getares close to Algeciras and the cost of  the complete mole was estimated at 90 000 ducats - perhaps about £8 million in modern terms. This would include the building of the mole itself, a platform for canon where it connected to the land and a small redoubt at the end. It would take three years to build. Speeding things up so that it would take only  two years would entail an expenditure of an additional 10 thousand ducats. 


1608 - New Mole area   ( Detail from map by Cristóbal de Rojas )

The design was then promptly changed by yet other set of prominent engineers of the day including Juan Battista Antonelli and Jerónimo de Soto, the main alteration being the incorporation of a bastion rather than a simple platform at the top end of the mole

 Meanwhile the new Governor of Gibraltar, General Juan de Zuñega looked on with trepidation as the costs continued to spiral out of control. By the time the work had actually started in 1615, Rosas had lost all interest. He had died in Cadiz in 1614.