The People of Gibraltar
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 18 – The Mosque, St Mary the Crowned and Rio Salado


As already mentioned on my notes on the previous chapter:
Al Makkarí – 1620
No sooner had Abiu-l-hasan reduced Gibraltar under his sway than he began . . . spending immense sums of money in building houses and magazines, as well as a jami’ or principal mosque . . .During the mid-15th century when Gibraltar was no longer Islamic, the mosque was converted into a parish church which would later become the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned.

Church of St Mary the Crowned – the “Patio” of the original mosque is visible beyond the entrance (1801 – Rev. Cooper Willyams)

Bomb House Lane
The descriptive Spanish names for this lane and the small square where it ended up in were typical of the era:
Tito Benady – The Streets of Gibraltar – 1996 P 19
The plazuela (de Juan Serrano) was . . . a small square at the entrance to the Museum. Bomb House Lane was known as La calle que va a la plazuela de Juan Serrano'. . .
As regards that fine Moorish building, one possible candidate might be this one.
Alonso Hernández del Portillo - Early 17th century
Hay otra puerta dicha de los Baños porque en tiempos de los moros los había allí cerca en parte de una casa que es ahora de Mayorazgo de un caballero llamado Juan Serrano.

Puerta de los Baños at the Line Wall end of Bomb House Lane (Adapte)

Mr Juan Serrano’s early 17th century Mayorazgo or entailed property seems a decent candidate for Alcantara’s Governors Palace - particularly if he is referring to a Moorish governor as the property still houses Gibraltar’s well-known Moorish Baths. Alcantara, however, got his information – as he mentions – from here:
Thomas James V2
The storekeeper and ordnance clerks’ dwellings – commonly called the bomb-house, was once a fine Moorish building: I take it to have been the residence of their governors because I have seen the same kind of structures in Spain.
That mid-18th century bomb-house may well have been Juan Serrano’s house, which in turn may have been Thomas’ Moorish Governor’s residence . . . but it’s hard to tell for sure.


This important battle – known as the Battle of Rio Salado by the Spanish and as the Battle of Tarifa by everybody else – took place in 1340 and involved all the main characters in the story so far – the Marinid Sultan Abu-l-hasan, the Nasrid ruler of Granada, Yusuf I and Alfonso XI of Castile and a new face - Alfonso IV of Portugal.

The Battle of Tarifa (Rio Salado)
Pedro López De Ayala – Crónicas de los Reyes de Castilla - 14th century
Don Ferrando, buen Rey, ganó la villa de Gibraltar . . . E su hijo el Rey Don Alfonso, (Alfonso XI of Castile) al cual muchos de los que hoy son vivos le conocieron, saben que fué noble Rey, venció los Reyes de Benamarin (Marinid) de Granada en la batalla de Tarifa, donde ovo toda la Christiandad gran honra, ganó las villas de Algeciras . . . y otros muchos castillos. E dexó por su heredero al Rey Don Pedro (the Cruel) su hijo . . .

Pedro López De Ayala (Medieval Castilian manuscript)

The above is curious for two reasons. The contemporary Spanish name for the battle appears to have been “Tarifa” not “Salado” and secondly, and as far as I can make out, all the kings of Granada were part of the long-lasting Nasrid dynasty - including the beaten Yusuf 1. It was his partner in defeat, Abu-l-hasan, who was a Marinid. The following is an Islamic perspective of the disaster.
Al Makkarí V2 P356
Having crossed the Strait for the laudable purpose of waging war against the infidels and helping the Moslems of Granada in their desperate struggle with the Christian power, Abu-l-hasan landed on the coast of Andalus with an army amounting to upwards of sixty thousand men, and was immediately joined by the forces of Granada, under the command of Abu-l-he-jaj. Alas! God Almighty, whose decrees are infallibly executed upon his creatures, had decided in his infinite wisdom that this proud armament should be dispersed like the dust before the wind, and that Abu-l-hasan himself should return to his dominions vanquished and fugitive. . .
The following passage written by the same author confirms that the “Tarifa” connection was still being employed at least by Arabic writers of the 17th century.
Al Makkarí Vol I – 17th century P224
. . . our Imam Abu-l-hasan . . . having seized upon all the treasures contained in the royal palace, found among other valuable objects the famous Koran, which he kept in his possession until it was again lost by him in the disastrous Battle of Tarifa.
. .

To read the booklet without any interruptions from me - click on the link below:

711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar - J.J. Alcantara

To read the rest of my commentary click on the appropriate link below:

711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 1 - The Visigoths and Islam
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 2 - Tarik and Gibraltar
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 3 - Tarik’s Mountain
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 4 - Tarik Invades
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 5 - Covadonga
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 6 - Vikings and Almoravids
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 7 - Yusuf Ibn Tashfin
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 8 - Abd al-Mu’min
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 9 - Madinat-al-Fath
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 10 - Moorish Wall, Aqueduct and Town
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 11 - Abd al-Mu’min Revisited
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 12 - The First Siege
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 13 - Christian Gibraltar and the Second Siege
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 14 - La Giralda and the Third Siege
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 15 - Abu al-hasan
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 16 - The Tower of Homage
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 17 - The Line Wall and the Shrine
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 18 - The Mosque, St Mary the Crowned and Rio Salado
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 19 - Siege of Algeciras and Ibn Battuta
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 20 - Southern Defences and Moorish Baths
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 21 - The Nuns’ Well
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 22 - The Gatehouse
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 23 - The 6th and 7th Sieges
711-1492 - Medieval Gibraltar – Part 24 - The 8th Siege – Castilian Gibraltar