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Gate of Granada

During 2006, The Gibraltar National Museum carried out an archaeological excavation of the Gate of Granada one of the main entry points into the city of Gibraltar during medieval times, constructed during Gibraltar’s Islamic period. It is located on the northern and upper part of the city, giving access to the area which would later be known as the Villa Vieja (Old Town).

Fortunately, the structure was found to be partially preserved with the foundations and part of the actual gate having survived the continuous remodelling of Gibraltar’s defences. We knew its general appearance and location thanks to engravings such as those from Anton van den Wyngaerde (1567) and Luis Bravo de Acuña (1627).


The historical and archaeological data tell us that it was a monumental gatehouse which allowed direct entry via a round arch. According to Alonso Hernández del Portillo (1610) it was decorated above by an emblem or insignia shaped like a key. Our excavation works allowed us to document its construction, consisting of limestone masonry and sandstone ashlars in the corners of the doorway using a strong red clay mortar to cement them. We also located the remains of a guard post with a lime flooring as well as part of the accesses to the gatehouse’s wall-walk. The gate was defended by two towers having located the base of one of them.

We recovered ceramics from the 14th century Marinid-Nasrid period, from the second half of the 17th century of the Spanish period and ceramics and other artefacts such as musket balls and military buttons from the early British period in the 18th century. The latter is when the Gate of Granada was destroyed in order to, once again, upgrade Gibraltar’s defences and to keep up with ever-evolving war tactics and firearms.

Published: March 18, 2020

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