Southport Gates Gibraltar
Among the most impressive of the fortifications of Gibraltar are the Southport Gates, still in evidence today, and still impressive by any standards and well worth spending some time to view.
The Southport gates are part of what was once a series of walls and fortifications that were part of Gibraltar’s defenses for literally hundreds of years. Built originally in the mid 1500’s, they were renewed, or rebuilt, according to whom one asks, in the mid 1800’s.
Gibraltar was an area that was prone to sieges, wars, neighbor accosting neighbor and when that wasn’t taking place, piracy was rampant in the area.
Imagine if you will the days when law was not so much in evidence and in actuality, might, made right.
This area was home to a pirate called Barbarossa, who at one point in Gibraltar’s history attacked the city and captured myriad of its citizens to sell for slaves. Not content with just the slaves, they sacked the Shrine of the Lady, taking many valuables and left the area.
They were intercepted by Mendoza who had given chase and were defeated near Cartagena, with many of the captives being freed and returned.
In addition to this, nine sieges of major proportions took place. It is then, understandable to us, this necessity for walls, gates, tunnels and fortresses, and the evidence of their existence is part of the charm, the mystique and the excitement of a visit to Gibraltar.
They are reminders, ancient landmarks that tell us of a time when things were a bit more barbaric than today. Evidence of a time when the Moors landed on the shores of Gibraltar, or the Spaniards drove them out, only to be themselves ousted by a British invasion.
The walls, the gates and the land itself offer up a story of a past that was rife with conflict, represented by the many fortifications that stand as evidence to the need of the people for security.
The Southport Gates offer up their own story of such times, originating (though not yet physically as these gates) when Gibraltar was under Spanish rule, around the time when Tarik invaded Spain, declared Gibraltar his own( it is in fact believed that Gibraltar is named for this what it was called in this time span) and built upon the spot where those gates now stand, a formidable fortress, that are widely believed to be the foundation for the Southport Gates.
Many years later, when again under the rule of the Spaniards, the Southport Gates were built, with a treatise written on the defenses that were necessary to keep the city safe.
Today the remainder of the Southport gates are a visible reminder of the past that Gibraltar lived through, a hold over from a time less peaceful than that which we enjoy today.
The tourist to Gibraltar who views the Southport Gates, or the Puerta De Africa, will see the arms of Charles of Spain above it, columns on either side which carry a scroll reading, Plus Ultra, a reference to the Pillars of Hercules, and on the bottom, left side, you will see the arms of Gibraltar, flanked on the right by those of the Spanish Governor who was then in control.
The Southport Gates are more than just one of the splendid attractions of Gibraltar, more than a symbol of a more violent time, or of the many fortifications of a city, but a living breathing story, that the visitor to Gibraltar should take the time to read for themselves.
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