Fort of Santa Barbara
Fort of Santa Barbara – La Linea de la Concepción
The Fort of Santa Barbara and the defensive origins of La Linea de la Concepcion
The Treaty of Utrecht, signed by the European powers to put an end to the Spanish War of Succession, meant the cession of Gibraltar to Great Britain. As a consequence of the British presence in this strategic enclave at the typo of the Peninsula, the port on the Mediterranean Sea, the government of Felipe V, the first Bourbon King of Spain gave Jose prospero de Verboon, an engineer, the task of building a fortified line which would encircle the garrison. The aim was to forestall any expansionist intentions the British may have had, as well as to protect future attempts to regain the Peñon.
This masterwork of bastioned fortification known as the Linea de Contravalacion was erected between 1727 and 1735, and ran the whole length of the isthmus, from the Fort of Santa Barbara, in the east, to the Fort of San Felipe in the west. A wall was built all along the line which connects the two forts, it had quarters for different batteries and corps of guards, by the names of San Benito, Santa Mariana, San Fernando, and San Carlos.
The linea de Contravalacion played an essential part in the so-named Great Siege of there garrison during the 18th Century (1779-1783), until its destruction due to a British political man oeuvre against the French in the Peninsular War. The British took advantage of the Napoleonic invasion at the beginning of the 19thCentury to justify blowing up the fortifications in 1810, with the excuse that it would prevent the French army from using them to besiege the garrison. The ruins of the Fort of Santa Barbara were declared a Bien de Interés Cultural in 1985. Nowadays they have been adapted to be suitable for tourist visits.
Since the end of the 18th Century, different settlements have established themselves next to the defensive walls. From these settlements, a village grew in the 19th Century which ended up separating from San Roque. This new village, in memory of the ancient fortified line, firstly adopted the name of La Linea de Gibraltar and later that of La Linea de la Concepcion.