Torre de los Siete Suelos
City Gate and Tower in Granada
The Torre de los Siete Suelos or Tower of the Seven Floors, is a defensive bastion and city gate for Alhambra in Grenada, Spain. The tower was built after the gate, which is thought to date from the same period as the Justice Gate (Puerta de la Justicia), because on top of the lintel of both gates the same sentence can be read “Only God is Victor“.
This gate, was one of the four that gave access from the outside to the Red Hill fortress and is located in the southern part of the fortress, and it led to the upper side of the Medina of the Alhambra. The gate stands before an artillery bastion built later
Where does the Torre de los Siete Suelos get its name?
In 1564, it was known as the Porta Castri Granatensis Semper Clausa – or The Castle Gate is Always Shut. Then it was called Torre de la Sierra and finally, the French traveler Bertaut, in 1659, consecrated it as the Puerta de los Siete Suelos, a name that was kept from now on. Its current name comes from the belief that there are seven underground floors under the bastion that defends it. Only two underground floors have actually been discovered. They have cylindrical vaults with skylights and portholes on their walls. The Muslims called it Bib al-Gudur, which means Gate of the Wells, because of the dungeons that existed in the fields that were in front of the tower, which were used to keep prisoners. It was also called Puerta de la Guardiaor or Gates of the Guard.
Legends of Torre de los Siete Suelos
The tradition says that Boabdil, the last Nasrid king, came out through this gate to give the keys of the Alhambra to the Catholic Monarchs and that he asked them not to allow anyone to use it again and therefore to close it down for ever.
“All of them claimed to be in the belief that there were great treasures hidden in the Tower of the Seven Floors .” The quote, collected in The Legacy of the Moor, in the famous Tales of the Alhambra by the American writer Washington Irving (1783-1859), shows the romantic and enigmatic universe that has formed during the passage of the centuries around the Alhambra of Pomegranate.
The monumental beauty of the complex and its historical past served to “create an imaginary from the 19th century”, which helped to create numerous legends thanks to the contribution of great romantic writers. This is the case of Irving’s story in which a poor and honest water carrier receives in gratitude for his hospitality a chest from a dying Moor who takes him to that door. Once there, he sees the ground open and an immense quantity of gold and jewels appear before him.
Also, there was also the story that a magician had made an enchantment in the place.
Torres Balbás, in his 1927 work, refers to the crime that took place there. It was the warden Diego Ponce de León who murdered his wife and several of his children by throwing them from one of the towers to the Puerta.
History of the Torre de los Siete Suelos
Around the fourteenth century, King Yusuf I ordered to build the Tower of the Seven Floors on an old building in the south of the Nazari whole wall. Its monumental door has since then been one of the four main entrances to the Alhambra, specifically to the Medina area.
On January 2, 1492, during the reconquest, Fernando el Católico chose this place as the entrance to the Alhambra. At the same time, the defeated Boabdil said goodbye to his Nasrid kingdom and left Granada for this exit. According to tradition, he asked that the door never be opened again.
In 1747, the gate stopped being used, and it was boarded up until the French Invasion and its use by the French Troops. The Torre de los Siete Suelos was blown up with dynamite by Napoleon’s troops in 1812.
It was used again and partially rebuilt as early as the 19th century to prevent the attack by the Carlist forces around 1836-40. Around 1850, its esplanade was converted into a tavern, which is discussed in different works, which we will see later, such as the Tavern of the Seven Floors.
It was reconstructed with the help of old paintings and photographs.
The gate was rebuilt in the 1970s with the help of the illustrations of old paintings and photographs.
Other names of Torre de los Siete Suelos
The Torre de los Siete Suelos has the following names: Torre de los Siete Suelos, Tower of the Seven Floors,Bib al-Gudur, Gate of the Wells.
Visiting Torre de los Siete Suelos
Entrance to this building is usually restricted and cannot be visited during the ordinary visit of the Alhambra Complex.
Access is sometimes permitted with advance registration, through activities arranged by the Board of the Alhambra and the Generalife.
It may also be included in the “Space of the Month” program, which allows the visit of certain spaces normally closed to preserve their conservation and that do not admit a high number of visitors.
The Puerta de Siete Suelos is part of the Alhambra Complex and access it you need to purchase Alhambra Tickets or a Alhambra Guided Tour.