The above plan of Gibraltar has been touted as one of the oldest in existence. Although it is incomplete and undated - and was originally identified as a plan of Tarifa - it has been argued that the style of writing and the vocabulary used date it as an early 16th century work - several decades older than the well known plan by Anton Van den Wyngaerde (see LINK) which was drawn in 1567. The theory is strengthened by the fact that some of the captions imply that the plan represents the Rock as it was just after the so called 'Turkish' raid in 1540. (see LINK) The following is an attempt to analyse the plan in detail.
Mar y Tierra
Despite the colour scheme and appropriate patterns the plan carefully distinguishes between Mar and Tierra - land and the sea - but does not name either the Mediterranean or the Bay. The only caption on the sea itself is the 'sumidero de naos'. In modern Spanish the word 'sumidero' means a sink or a drain but which in this case may have some other unknown meaning - unknown that is to me.
(Las) botas del vino (que) quebraron
On the Spanish side and on the left of the plan is a semi-readable caption - shown above as an enlargement. It identifies an event which took place during the 'Turkish raid of 1540 covered by Barrantes Maldonado in his Dialogo:
Entonces los turcos se arredraron y fueron á la playa de Mayorgas, y allí reposó la armada; y saltaron en tierra algunos turcos y fueron do estaban decientas y tantas botas llenas de vino, del diezmo que se recogía allí, que querían cargar para Flándes, y era cada bota de veintiocho arrobas hasta treinta, y, desfondándolas, derramaron todo el vino, que eran más de seis mil arrobas.The episode is also covered by Alonso Alonso Hernández del Portillo:
Pasaron adelante y por delante de nuestros muros fueron a parar a el Diezmo que está en una parte abrigada de la bahía con buen puerto a una legua de la Ciudad. Aquí saltaron los Turcos en tierra y desfondaron las botas de vino que tenían los Diezmeneros allí . . .
La Playa de Mayorgas - almost certainly the beach near Puente Mayorga - can easily be described as a 'parte abrigada of the Bay.
Los Parronales . . . ésta es la entrada y estrecho de tierra que se hace para entrar en Gibraltar
The isthmus connecting the mainland to Gibraltar is clearly identified as a 'stretch of land that has to be crossed to enter Gibraltar'. The word 'parronales' is more difficult and could mean 'vineyards' although these were probably to befound somewhat further north of the isthmus rather than on it.
el pradillo donde hizieron aguada . . . . cos . . . Puerta de Tierra
Historically the area more or less in front of the North Front of the Rock once supported small meadows or 'pradillos'. During the 18th century, for example, it was known as the Governor's Meadow'. As with the wine casks, the place is also mentioned in the 'Dialogos'
Y este día domingo salieron ( los Turcos ) á hacer aguaje en unos pozos que están en el pradillo delante de la ciudad, á la puerta de tierra, sin que persona alguna de los cristianos les hiciese mal . . .
These 'pozos' mentioned in the quote were very likely to have been of a type called 'norias' which were common at the time in both Gibraltar and its hinterland. The Puerta de Tierra (see LINK) or Land port Gate is roughly in the right place and as mentioned by Maldonado:
La delantera, que mira al Occidente, es menos fragosa, y en una poca de llanura que hay entre el pié de la sierra y el mar está edificada la ciudad, que entre los vecinos se llama la Barcina , que no tiene más de una puerta á tierra, que sale á la estrechura de la entrada, y otra á la mar y otra á los arrabales.
Maldonado was perhaps mistaken in thinking it to be the only gate as there is plenty of evidence for a second perhaps even older gate facing Spain known as la Puerta de Villa Nueva by the Spanish engineer Luis Bravo de Acuña (see LINK) and as la Puerta de Granada (see LINK) by his early 16th century contemporary Alonso Hernández del Portillo. (See LINK) Maldonado's other gate - la Puerta de Mar (see LINK) - is not shown. Finally, that . . . 'cos' could be the ending of the words '(los Tur)cos'.
One surprising object on this section of the plan is the crenellated tower. From its position the most likely contender would be La Torre del Diablo. However, according to Tito Benady in his article - Ingenieros Militares en Gibraltar en los Siglos XVI y XVII -
Esta era una de las torres almenaras diseñadas por Luis Bravo de Laguna y construidas por el Licenciado Giliberto de Bedoya en la década de 1580.
In this particular case I suspect that Benady might be mistaken - the tower appears in Anton Van den Wyngaerde's well know plan of Gibraltar which is reliably dated 1567.
Calpe, que llaman el monte de Gibraltar . . . . La Torre (de) don Alo(nso)
Although Calpe is the old Roman name for the Rock it is rarely referred to as such in the literature of the 16th century. Nevertheless Barrantes Maldonado does refer to the Rock as Calpe several times in his 'dialogue'.
La Torre de Don Alonso refers to a tower built by Alonso Pérez de Guzmán' el Bueno - although some would argue that it may have been built by Alfonso XI of Castile. (See LINK) Whichever of the two alternatives is correct, the tower would still have been built during the early 14th century.
El castillo . . . la puerta del castillo
El castillo is the Moorish castle. The Puerta del Castillo could be any one of several leading into the outer keep. In fact although the word 'puerta' is in the singular two doorways or gates are shown, including a third leading into the Tower of Homage.
Perhaps rather irritatingly there is no mention of the shrine inside the Tower of Homage where according to Wyngaerde, Maldonado and later Portillo - bones were kept of the luckless Enrique Pérez de Guzmán who drowned in 1436 attempting to recover Gibraltar from the Moors. (See LINK)
esto es lo cercado de la çibdad, que llaman la barzina,
The old northern section of the town was divided into three main areas - the Castle, Villa Vieja and la Barcina. The second was sandwiched between the Castle and the Barcina and is not shown. This omission might be based on the following passage in 'Dialago':
y en una poca de llanura que hay entre el pié de la sierra y el mar está edificada la ciudad, que entre los vecinos se llama la Barcina
The very important sea gate or Puerta der Mar which gave access into la Barcina from the Old Mole (see LINK) is also missing. The origins of the name 'Barcina' are open to discussion but one of the most popular theories is that it refers to a wicker basket - a barcina - containing the body of the previously mentioned Enrique Pérez de Guzmán which was hung visible to all passing ships from one of its towers facing the sea.
El arrabal . . . La Plaça . . . . La Puerta de Mudarra que sale a la mar
The 'arrabal' represents the fourth major district in medieval Gibraltar which was commonly known as la Turba. The name is probably derived from the Arab al-turba al-amra - the red sands. I can find no references to this part of the town being called the arrabal other than by Maldonado, and even here, only as a description rather than a place name.
Junto á la Barcina está un arrabal, que se ha poblado después que se ganó aquel pueblo a los moros, en el cual está la plaza y la iglesia mayor, y San Francisco y las Turbas, que son unos pozos de agua donde bebe la ciudad.
Maldonado was undoubtedly mistaken in associating the name with the 'pozos' that supplied the town with water. Spring water was originally brought into la Barcina, Villa Vieja and la Turba itself via a Moorish built aqueduct from a source well to the south of la Turba. According to Francis Carter (see LINK) writing in 1772:
This aqueduct was first begun by the Moors . . . supplying the Atarasana (gally house in la Barcina) and the Castle: that exiting at present goes no further than to the Grand Parade (La Plaça); it was planned by a Spanish Jesuit.
La Plaça is the main square which still exists today. In later centuries the entire town was referred to as la Plaza.
The person responsible for the construction of the sea gate on the plan - La Puerta de Mudarra (see LINK) - is identified by Alonso Hernández del Portillo but is not mentioned by Maldonado.
Otra dicha de Mudarra que con licencia del Rey Católico la mando hacer un caballero Corregidor llamado Luis Mudarra el año 1513; esta está en la plaza, y sirve de mirador para ver los navíos y galeras que vienen por la mar y para otros servicios.
To conclude Professor Miguel Ángel Ladero Quesada of the Universidad Complutense of Madrid - in his article on Don Enrique de Guzmán, el “buen conde de niebla” (1375-1436) has carried out a thorough analysis of plan in question and is convinced that it was created to illustrate the well-known 'Turkish' raid of 1540:
Estos datos llevan a pensar que el dibujo se hizo para ilustrar el relato del ataque turco-berberisco a Gibraltar en los días nueve a doce de septiembre de 1540.
It is easy to agree with the Professor Ladero - the references are too many and it seems quite obvious that whoever drew the plan seems to have had a copy of Maldonado's Dialago in front of him. The biggest give-aways are not just the inclusion of specific details such as the wine barrels and the watering places but also the mistakes - no Water Gate, the naming of la Turba as el arrabal and so forth. The only anomaly is the Torre de don Alonso which does not appear in Maldonado's work.
Probablemente, ésta es la vista de Gibraltar más antigua de las conocidas. El tipo de letra, la ortografía y el léxico . . . . indican que se hizo en los primeros decenios del siglo XVI. Es, desde luego, anterior a las dibujadas por Antón Van den Wyngaerde en 1567 . . .
In this I suspect he is on far less solid ground. As far as I can make out his reasoning is based on the lexical dating of three words that appear on the plan - çibdad, plaça and naos. I can offer no opinion here as I don't have the necessary expertise but if he is correct then the plan must have been created anywhere between 1540 - the raid - and 1567 - Wyngaerde's work.
But there is the inevitable fly in the ointment. It seems quite evident from even the most cursory study of the plan that whoever created it must have had a copy of Maldonado's book in front of him. Unfortunately this was first published in 1566 and it seems hard to believe that the plan was finished within a year of its publication - unless of course the it was drawn by Pedro Barrantes Maldonado himself.