Catalan Bay

Catalan Bay

Catalan Bay (Spanish: La Caleta) is a bay and fishing village in Gibraltar, on the eastern side of The Rock away from Westside.

Historically, Catalan Bay had been populated by Genoese fishermen who were part of a much larger settlement pattern along the eastern coast of The Rock during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the eighteenth century Genoese was so widely spoken in Gibraltar that government notices were also published in this language (alongside English and Spanish). Genoese was spoken in La Caleta well into the nineteenth century, dying out in the early decades of the twentieth. There has been some discussion about the possibility that the British may have mixed up Catalans with Genoese but, according to some opinions, it is by no means clear why they would suffer such a confusion, especially since there is other evidence which demonstrates that the British were perfectly aware that the residents of La Caleta were Genoese: the orders for the siege of 1727 refer to this bay as the Genoese Cove and the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century censuses record large numbers of people born in Genoa, not in Catalonia.[1] However, the seventeenth-century French map "Plan de Catalan Bay ou la Caleta" (now in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France), which showed houses and lists of the inhabitants living in Catalan Bay before the village was completely built, shows various Catalan surnames among its inhabitants (Borràs, Canovas, Estella, Fabre, Fava, Palmé, Sans, Serra, Vila) even though they were not a majority compared to Genoese surnames (only a 12%). Therefore, there is documentary evidence that among the first inhabitants of Catalan Bay there were Catalans, despite the fact that they were few in number compared to the Genoese. Also, there is considerable evidence that during the seventeenth century Catalan fishermen travelled to the south of Spain every summer in order to fish for Boquerones or anchovie, which were quite plentiful in this part of the world. Their main base was at the mouth of the river Palmones, which is more or less opposite Gibraltar. It was an ideal place to beach their boats and salt their catch in readiness for taking back home at the end of the season. Among the Catalans who participated in the conquest of 1704 there were some fishermen.

During the nineteenth century only fishermen were permitted to live in Catalan Bay. They were required to have a fishing permit granted to them by the Governor and only a limited number of permits were issued. The families who live in the village today are mainly descendants of these Genoese fishermen,[1] and are colloquially known as caleteños.

^ a b Cite error: The named reference DG was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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