The People of Gibraltar
1930 – The Moorish Baths – Torres Balbás

In his marvellous article – Gibraltar, Llave y Guarda Del Reino De España that appeared in a publication called Crónica Arqueológica de la España Musulmana published during the 1930s, the Spanish architect and archaeologist, Torres Balbás included the following rather sad footnote:
En el año 1930 el Gobierno de Gibraltar me invitó a visitar esa ciudad y a estudiar las posibilidades de restauración del Baño musulmán. El informe emitido con tal motivo - Notas para la restauración del Baño árabe de Gibraltar, traducido al inglés, se publicó en el “Anual Journal, vol. I, 1930” (Gibraltar 1931), pp. 54-57.  
Ignoro si posteriormente se han realizado las obras de investigación y reparación que en él aconsejaba; la descripción que sigue responde al estado del edificio en ese ano de 1930. Mi última visita a Gibraltar fue en 1934; esperaba completar el examen de las fortificaciones medievales en otra posterior. Como ésta no se realizó, ni es fácil que se presente ocasión propicia para hacerla, me he decido a publicar estas notas, algo incompletas.

Leopoldo Torres Balbás

The Spanish Civil War and WWII intervening and Torres Balbás never returned to Gibraltar – at least not in his role as advisor. Nevertheless, thanks to my good digital friend Rafael Fernandez I have a copy of the English translation of his notes on the restoration of the Baths which I suspect might be of general as well as historical interest.

I have taken the liberty of editing the intro to the text in order to shorten it. Comments made by Torres Balbás are as translated by Mr. H. Norton. 

Senor Don Leopoldo Torres Balbás, the well-known Architect of the Alhambra at Granada, was recently invited by the Government of Gibraltar to. pay a short visit to this city with a view to examining the Moorish Baths and investigating the possibilities of restoring them as far as possible. Señor Torres Balbás carried out an examination of the Baths, and as prepared a report and a copy has been transmitted to the Gibraltar Society by the Colonial Secretary  
Such a report is of exceptional interest, and the Society is fortunate to publish this report below . . . the recommendations contained in the report are Being closely studied by the Colonial Government of Gibraltar.

Notes for their Restoration
by Sr. Don Leopoldo Torres Balbás, Architect of the Alhambra de Granada.
Translation by Mr. H. Norton. Assistant Secretary
Colonial Secretary's Office, Gibraltar.
In the year 1160 Abdelmumen, emir of the mussulmans. ordered the construction of a city in the Djebel-Fath, surrounded by walls (Rowd el-Kartas, Kitab El-Isticca, lbn El· Athir. He resided in this place for several months and ordered many palaces to be built (Merrakechi). This is how Gibraltar came to be. 
Rowd el-Kartas - Roudh el kartas (14th c)
lbn El-Athir - Ibn al-Athir (13th c)
Merrakechi - Ibn Idhari al-Marrakushi (14th c)
This town was invested by King Ferdinand IV in 1308-1310, and after the walls had been demolished by the engines of war the moors had to capitulate; the King then ordered the reconstruction of the ruins and of a tower on the slope of the town, and also an arsenal to be constructed between the town and the sea. (Chronicle of Ferdinand lV).  
In 1333 the Mahomedans again took possession of Gibraltar, after a siege of six months by prince Abu Malic, son of the marinide Abul Hasan who carried away as a trophy a large bell which was hung in the centre of the mosque El Qarouiyin of Fez (Ali El-Djaznai). 
Marinide – Merinid
Abu Malic - Abu Malik Abd al-Walid (14th c)
Abu Hasan – Abu I-Hassan (14th c)
El Qarouiyin - Mosque of al-Qarawiyin (9th c)
Ali El-Djaznai - Abu al-Hasan Ali al-Jaznai (14th c)
Abu I Hasan ordered the erection of a great tower on the top of the Castle in the place where there had been a small tower, (without doubt that one which constructed a few year’s earlier by the Castilians) which had been destroyed by shots fired by the stone mortars.  
He also ordered the construction of an arsenal and workshops and built a wall surrounding the red hill commencing at the arsenal and ending at the tile works. Later, Abu Inan restored the fortifications building a wall as far as the extreme end of the Rock.  
The interest that this King took in all matters affecting Gibraltar was so great that in the Audience Hall in his Palace in Fez he had a plan which shewed the walls, towers, castle, gates, arsenal mosque, ammunition stores, granar1es, the shape of the rock and that of the neighbouring red hills (Travels of Ibn Batuta, Maggari) 
Abu Inan - Abu Inan Faris, son of Abu I-hassan (14th c)
Ibn Batuta – Ibn Battuta (14th c)
Maggari – Mohammed Al Makkarí (17th c)
The "nasride '' Yusuf III, Abul Hachach, of Granada, took Gibraltar in 1410. In 1462 it was conquered by the Duke of Medina Sidonia for Henry IV of Castille. Historic data asserts therefore that the tower which exists to this day, in the high· level of the city, called the Moorish Castle, was constructed by Abul Hasan after his· conquest. in 1333. An archaeological analysis proves this historic testimony. In the eventful history of Gibraltar, the name of this tower which in the 16th century was known as "La Carrahola" has been forgotten or lost. 

“La Carrahola”. . .  aka Calahorra, Torre de la Vela, Torre Blanca, Torre de Homenaje or Moorish Castle more or les as Torres Balbás would have found it (1930s)
It would be a praiseworthy act of historical restitution to give back this name to it. At a lower- level, another tower was called La Gurilanda"; there were also fortifications known as “La Coracha” and “El Miradero” (look-out). (Castles and Fortifications of' the Kingdom, by Julian Paz. Dialogue between Pedro Barrantos Maldonado in which he gives an account of the plunder of Gibraltar by the Turks in the year 1540).  
The other edifice left in Gibraltar of the Arab epoch the bath - called hammam by the Mussulmans – must be contemporary with the “Carrahola” and of the buildings made by Abul Hasan and Abu Inan in the 14th century, for, although the cited texts do not refer specially to it, it is logical to suppose that so necessary an edifice to the Mussulmans must have been built at the same time as the numerous other constructions carried out by those Kings. 
The capitals, with the exception of three which had been obtained from previous buildings one roman and the other two Visigothic are, although plain, of the typical form of those from Granada, of the 14th century.  
The dome supported by squinches in the columned room as well as the arches show that they were of an advanced period in the Andalusian Mussulman art. Such public baths, of which there are numerous remain: in the cities of the south of Spain, viz Cordoba, Jerez, Ronda, Jaen, Granada, Murcia etc, bear always a marked similarity in design, derived from the roman thermae, or better still from the private baths of villas. 
As regards distribution and plan the bath more similar to this one in Gibraltar is one of the oldest in Fez, published by Ricard. In both of them there is a chamber covered by a vault carried on squinches with alcoves at the ends - on pillars in the one at Fez and on columns in that of Gibraltar - between two other oblong chambers covered with barrel vaults. 

Plan from Gibraltar, Llave y Guarda . . with added captions by me (1930s - Torres Balbás)
They are also very similar to the baths of Sidi Bu-Medina, near Tlemcen (14th century) and that of Valencia. They are all composed of three fundamental rooms: the first chamber of normal temperature in which the bathers must have undressed, an intermediate room temperate and a last one at a very high temperature with one of various plunge-baths which had usually alcoves in the ends separated by arches and columns. 
Under this last chamber there was a not very high cavity - the roman hypocaust - the floor of the chamber being carried on brick piers. A large copper which usually projected from one of the walls of the last chamber was used for heating the same for the supply of hot water for the plunge-bath and the hot air which circulated in the hypocaust. 
On the other side of the copper were the attendants' rooms, the boiler-house, lumber room, etc, with an independent entrance from the street. There was a vestibule or lobby to the first chamber: at times there was an intermediate patio between the street and the rooms. Some rooms, the use of which is not well defined must have been used as linen-rooms, stores, caretakers' lodges, etc. This distribution admitted of certain variations, enhanced in the important baths by the addition of more rooms and reduced in the Jess important ones.
The centre of the plan is in practically every case a room with columns and central dome with an encircling passage in some cases and end alcoves in others. In several baths, amongst them the more elaborate and better known of Granada, this room is the intermediate one, that is to say the temperate one (1), in others more rarely, the first is the cold one (2). 
Such chambers are analogous to the frigidarium, the tepidarium and to the caldarium and laconicum of the Roman thermae. The domed room has been compared to the apodyterium, but the fact that" it almost always occupies an intermediate position as aforesaid makes this comparison unlikely. It is undoubtedly the more ample an important room and that is why it is presumed that it was utilised as a resting room after the bathe.

Plan from Gibraltar, Llave y Guarda . . .with added captions by me (1930s - Torres Balbás)
All these accessory rooms were vaulted and were lighted by lanterns always star-shaped with glazed ceramic mouldings and glass panes. In the bath at Gibraltar the central room (III) whereby you gain access is preserved; also, two other rooms to the east (IV and V) and another to the west (II), which has been converted into a garage, the end ones being covered by barrel vaults.  
In the V the floor and the lead piping to a plunge-bath are preserved, as well as the circular skylights, which must have been originally star-shaped, as those in the alcoves in room III; room IV has had its height reduced by a wooden floor-the entrance to the Museum over which there is a barrel vault that is certainly not the original one judging by its height, greater than those of the adjoining room.  
We cannot determine with any degree of certainty which was the entrance to this bath In all probability room V was the hottest, because in it the bath was situated, and the door L today blocked up, was probably the position of the boiler. In this case there must have been after the central warm room III two hotter rooms, the first for the vapour or sweating bath, the second (V) with the plunge for the hot water bath.
The Central Room (21st century – Gibraltar National Museum)
The entrance must have been therefore by the rooms I and II. But this surmise seems to conflict with the presence in the alcoves of the central room III of the small vaults of the hypocaust whereas in the IV and V notwithstanding that they have been partly excavated, there are no signs of its presence, It is easy to clear this up by excavating the floor of Garage II until the primitive floor is reached then go further down and look. For the hypocaust, and if it exists this then must have been the hottest room and the entrance would have been by No. V; if not found there, an excavation in the centre of IV and V. should disclose that hypocaust.


Photo from Gibraltar, Llave y Guarda . . . (1930s - Torres Balbás)
The best plan would be to pull down the premises built over the baths, where the Museum is; and restore the lighting of the rooms by their original skylights, blocking up the opening to the street which are of a modern period. But bearing in mind the unfeasibility of this, electric bulbs could be installed at the skylights, providing these with opal glass, but leaving some means of ventilation into the open air, as will be explained hereafter. 
It would  also be convenient to  pull down the arch that divides the vault  in room  III, and insert a compound  girder composed of three steel joists, size  18 joined  up  by  bolts and nuts to carry the  walls above;  but this  work is not considered urgent  as  the  said dome is undoubtedly  modern  and  must  have  been  constructed  when  the  rooms  now occupied by the museum  were built, the primitive one must have been  made  in  panels
And must have surmounted the others. 
In the following paragraph we state seriatim the works that we consider expedient to carry out in each room so as to leave these baths in the state demanded by the respect which is due to this interesting work of the past and with a view to afford facilities for tourists visiting them.

The Central Room in the 1930s possibly as Torres Balbás found it (1930s – E.R.Kenyon)
Room I - Today a Garage
It is through this room that admittance should be given to the baths. The floor should. be excavated until the original floor is found, or if this has not been preserved, until it is brought down to the future level of room II. The entrance door should be reduced in size by building a brick arch 1.10 metres wide, and a flight of steps leading down (as shown in the plan) which will give access to the baths.  
The Walls_ should ba stripped 'of all piaster and whitewashed and the brickwork that blocks up door C should be removed. Beside the street door, making use of the large void which to-day used as the entrance to the garage, a window could be left to ensure the admission of light into this first room.
Room II - Today a Garage
The floor should be excavated until the old one is arrived at and if the latter cannot he found, until the level of the central portion of room III. is reached (the central portion should also be excavated, as already stated, to find out whether there is a hypocaust underneath). The walls and vaults should be stripped of all plaster and whitewashed. A window can be left facing the street where the door E is, building up the rest of the opening. Finally, the brick or stone wall that blocks up door D should be removed to communicate rooms II. and IIL
Room III - Present entrance to the Baths
The alcove on the south has retained its primitive floor level and this should be restored in the opposite alcove. The floor line of the central part under the vault was evidently 20 centimetres lower than that of the alcoves, as is clearly shewn by the marks on the walls. The arches of the southern alcoves which have been destroyed may be reconstructed by inserting a stone or marble column with shaft and capital similar to the existing ones. In the door F, actually the entrance, a window may be left and the rest bricked up. All walls and vaults should also be stripped.
Room IV – Under the entrance to the Museum
Door H which is a modern one should be built up. This room had something like two alcoves at the ends, with floors slightly higher than the rest. Signs of them remain at A and B - which should be preserved at all costs. The floor of the central part of the room may be kept at the same level that of room III. At M. there was an earthen jar fragments of which are still preserved in room V; it would be convenient. to reconstruct it, sticking the pieces together, and replacing it in its former position. The walls should be stripped.
Room V
Door M should he built up, as it is a modern one. The floor of the plunge should be left intact and the floor of the rest of the room paved on a level with the portion of the floor next to the plunge. The window J may he allowed to remain for lighting purposes. An excavation could b tried from the door L, at present blocked up, to discover the accessory buildings on that side. By K this is not possible because there is an underground tank. The walls and vaults should be stripped of plaster and limewashed.
The floors should be paved with thin bricks, known in Andalusia a~ "rasilla.," but the old pavings should not be touched, but completed.
Torres Balbás’ notes:
(1) Baths of the Royal Household of the Alhambra, small Baths of Granada, Baths known as House of the Tombs and of the Albacin, in the same town; Baths of Fez, published by Ricard; Baths of Ronda and of Tlemcen.
(2) Baths of Sidi Bu-Medin near Tlemcen; Baths of Uxda (Morocco) and of the palace of the Bard (Tunis)
Thanks again Rafael.