The Gate of the Villa

Published by Basilio on

puerta de la villa en Cartagena
gate of the villa in Cartagena

The only gate in Cartagena before the 18th century

The Gate of the Town of Cartagena (Spain) is the only access gate to the city that remains standing. In 2016 I did a job of Heritage representation over this door. Work in the photogrammetric restitution with the intention of taking data and translating them into a 2d CAD drawing as faithful as possible to the monument. The work showed successive layers of restorations and consolidations, I also found some beautiful old photos that allowed to compare the current state with the successive stages.

The interesting thing about the monument is that it was not originally built where it is seen today. But it was in the eighteenth century itself when moved with the intention of keeping it and use it as access to the castle.

The transfer was made due to the construction of the walls of Carlos III and its use as access to the city was replaced by the monumental gate of San José. The sensitivity of dismantling the monument stone by stone and moving it to the new access to the castle, contrasts with the disappearance of the doors that followed. That is, one hundred years later, in the last years of the 19th century, the three monumental gates of the wall of Charles III were demolished and their stones disappeared.

Puerta de la villa s.XIX
State of the door at the end of the s. XIX

The door shield

The door consists of a main ashlar façade with a shield of Felipe II with the characteristic of not appearing the arms of the kingdom of Portugal, which allows us to date it between 1556, who ascended the throne, and 1558, which inherited the kingdom of Portugal.
Above the shield are the remains of a machicolation that defended the door from above. The interior of the door is a large barrel vault of irregular masonry

Origin of the Puerta de la Villa

The origin of the Puerta de la Villa it goes back to the medieval defensive enclosure of Cartagena. As the city grew towards the north and west, it is known that a gate always existed in that location from the High Middle Ages until the construction of the walled enclosure of Carlos III in 1792.

Cartagena siglo XIII

The growth of the city and the insecurity of the Mediterranean due to the Berber pirates supported by the Ottoman Empire. During the reign of Charles I they led the construction of the Dean's wall in 1555 built in masonry with semi-cylindrical towers. But the poor quality of the work and the development of the artillery soon made the walls obsolete.

The walls of Antonelli in Cartagena

In 1576 the construction of a new walled enclosure is proposed to update the defense of the city and its shipyard to the new techniques of military architecture. This wall called Antonelli by its architect had several gates and postern. Of which only the monumental gate known as Door of the Villa or Door of Antonelli.

Cartagena s.XVI-XVII

The walls were made of masonry and brick, so by the middle of the 17th century they were in a sorry state. For what they were reformed and fortified at the request of the governor of the city Carlos Colonné. 30,811 shields were sent by the crown and the military engineer Possi was commissioned to lay out the wall.

This layout was carried out in its entirety, although the poor quality of the construction made it necessary to reform the wall in 1721 and expand its perimeter. The construction between 1766 and 1792 of the walls of Carlos III They included the area of Antiguones within the city, leaving the town gate included within the urban fabric. In addition to the new enclosure, the castle was reformed, adapting it to the new defensive and storage needs. The gate of the Villa was moved to its current location, thus becoming the access to the fortress.

The transfer of the Puerta de la Villa

The early removal of the door saved it from disappearance and coincides with the construction techniques used.
When the castle was reformed to adapt it to new military needs, the gate was dismantled from its original location. Moving to the current one, about 350 meters. The original door is preserved ashlar facade, since the rest of the building was adjusted to the needs of its new function. Proof of this is the outdated position of the access with the vault and its larger size to allow the inclusion of a guard booth.

Cartagena s.XVII-XVIII
Layout of the Cartagena wall before moving the gate
Cartagena s.XIX
Layout of the Cartagena wall after moving the gate

Gate abandonment

Behind the castle abandonment When it lost its military function at the end of the 19th century, the gate lost its wooden doors and part of the castle's walls were looted as construction material. further the area began to be colonized with slums getting to inhabit the door itself as seen in the photo corresponding to the year 1905.

Puerta de la villa ocupada por viviendas 1905

Restoration and incorporation to Torres Park

With the economic boom of the 1920s, it was decided to transform the castle hill into a public park. Being the first landscape project of Victor Beltrí, which was one of the most important urban developments in Cartagena during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Made in honor of the mayor Alfonso Torres, from whom Parque Torres would take its name. From that time are the masonry that surround the castle and that cover the hollows in ruins of the looted masonry.

Gran nevada en Cartagena 1926
«Great Nevada» December 26, 1926

Construction description of the Puerta de la Villa

Constructively, the door was marked by two walls that make up the base of the vault on which they supported the falsework that formed the barrel vault that forms the core of the construction. This nucleus was covered with the original ashlar door on the exterior side and with irregular masonry on the other three sides, filling the interior with rubble and lime. You can see part of these fillings in the upper part of the main facade.

Conclusions

In conclusion, it should be noted that due to its construction methodology, the fillings caused early detachment of the masonry from the sides of the door. Action aided by the extraction of stone from said masonry and from the walls that closed around the gate at the end of the 19th century.

The origin of the stones of the door are remains of previous constructions, highlighting the pieces of ashlar masonry on the main façade that most likely come from the Roman amphitheater. Since this unlike the theater was visible when the door was built the shield made in pentelic marble, surely comes from a roman stele. The andesite blocks from the vaults of the amphitheater are noteworthy.

Upon being moved in the 18th century the current main facade is probably not entirely faithful to the original door. Although it is remarkable the interest in such an early time to preserve it, which did not happen a century later with the other gates of the city.
Inside the vault you can see black stains of smoke from when the door was inhabited. This allows us to affirm that the remains of lime plaster in the interior predate Beltrí's intervention in 1924, which barely affected the door.

Work methodology

As a work methodology, I first proceeded to survey of planimetry of the two facades of the vault. The longitudinal section of this and the plant by taking data "in situ" and its dimensioning. Once the sketches were made, he proceeded to photograph the door restore such photos using ASRIX. What provided me with elevations provided of said photographs that would later be traced and scaled in autocad with the data provided by the sketches. Obtaining later the cutting of the ashlars and voussoirs. And the elaboration of the planimetry of the door to scale.

Bibliography

  • Manuel González Simancas, Monumental Catalog of Spain province of Murcia, Report, 1907
  • Manuel González Simancas, Monumental Catalog of Spain province of Murcia, Report, volume III, 1907,
  • Royal Decree, Granada, 1604-08-15
  • JJ Ordovás, Plan and Elevations of the castle, AGSMPD IV-161, 1797

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3 Comments

Carlos Castrillo · at

In that the more I try to know about the city of Cartagena, I realize that every time I know less. This three-thousand-year-old city has so much history that perhaps one day I will get to savor its honeys.

    Basil · at

    Of course Carlos! It is a city where history can be felt around every corner

Keenan Teeters · at

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