The People of Gibraltar
1462 - Gibraltar - The Spanish Fortress - Part 10
El Baluarte del Rosario


When the wall was completed, the southern front of the city between El Hacho and the Baluarte del Rosario became a partial reality. His idea of transferring Calvi’s wall towards the north, however, never happened. 


During the 16th century, access to the top of the “Moorish Wall” was known as el Atajo (the shortcut). On the crest of the mountain another fort was constructed during the end of the 16th century. This was considered of such importance that Captain Cortázar was convinced that:
If the town was ever lost it could be recovered from there.
The rest of the southern front would later be reinforced by modern artillery placements, of which el Baluarte del Rosario would remain the most emblematic. This baluarte appears to have been built on another tower made of earth and facines initiated and started by El Frattino in 1575 above the Torre de la Zebrera in la Puerta de Atajo. This was a tower that stood out from the rest of those found along the western litoral defences.


Baluarte del Rosario    (1597 - Unknown)


The text is hard to decipher but may read “sin acavar” (acabar) - or not yet finished. La Torre de la Zebrera may have been a similar if larger tower to the two shown protecting the Line Wall - as can be seen on the bottom right of the above plan.

Of Marinid origin (la Torre de Zebrera) disappeared in the 16th century as did those from the north eastern corner of the Barcina. Modern defensive theories demanded that there should be two corner bastions - San Pablo and Rosario - the first being the older one the later the newer and more sophisticated.

Rosario was finished in 1599 although it was not perfected until the decade of the 1620s. According to Portillo its construction made use of ashlars from Carteia as had been done in the past with other Gibraltarian buildings. The bastion took its name from the Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Rosario as did the gate through Charles V Wall (Southport).




“Elrrosario” or Nuestra Señora del Rosario north of opposite la Puerta Nueba (Southport Gate)        (1607 - Cristóbal Rojas - detail)

Yet another Gibraltar gate known by any number of names - Puerta Nueba, Puerta Nueva, Puerta Nueva de la Ciudad, Puerta de la Ciudad, Puerta de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Puerta del Rosario, Puerta de Campo, Puerta de África, South Port Gate - and finally, South Port Gates when a second one was opened in 1883.


It allowed the defence of the littoral front of the town including the New Mole and all possible access points to the south. This bastion is the only one built during the Spanish period that complied with Italian bastion style fortification theory. 

Its placement is between two curtains and it has two facades of generous dimensions connecting with the curtains via two flanks. It was constructed with sloping walls which were taller than the defences on either side of it and acted as an independent fortress with its own access doors, gunpowder magazines and water wells that would allow it to defend itself irrespective of what might be happening in the town . . . . . 


. . . . Originally when it was simply an enlargement of the Torre de Zebrera it remained unnamed and in 1587 it was still missing its parapet. El Baluarte exists today with a few British additions. Its corners and its eastern front are partially hidden by modern buildings. It is now called South Bastion and towards its south are the two Ragged Staff gates.



Northwest and southwest corners of South Bastions   (1776 - William Green)


El Frattino’s work on the rest of the southern defences was delayed until the beginning of the 17th century. By then the entire Line Wall defences including important constructions such as el Baluarte del Rosario and el Fuerte del Muelle Nuevo or Torre del Tuerto. Both had been modernised and renovated. 



A View towards the North from South Bastion    (1828 - H.A. West)#

Over the years there were various proposals which suggesting that the Line Wall (to the south of Rosario) should be removed given its poor state. It was believed that they were in such a bad condition that they might in fact be an aid rather than a hindrance to any enemy that hoped to disembark in beaches between el Baluarte del Rosaio and La Torre del Tuerto.


The town looking north from the New Mole   (Late 19th century - J. H. Mann)


The “beaches” mentioned above refer to the shallows beneath the Line Wall covering the area from the middle of the photo to the extreme left. During the 17th century the walls would not have been either as high or in such good nick.

OTHER LINKS