Visit the Giralda of Seville
Usually, a building is worth visiting as a whole. However, there are certain constructions that are so magnificent and special that it’s worth visiting each part that conforms them separately. Normally, in those cases, each element possesses its own history and is a unique treasure in itself. Such is the case of the Giralda, the bell tower of the famous cathedral of Seville, in Spain.
History of the Giralda
The tower was built in the 12th century, but not as part of a catholic church but as a minaret for a mosque. When you visit it, if you happen to find ancient Roman inscriptions on the tower’s base, don’t think that we’re lying about its construction period. What happens is that the Muslims used stones from ancient Roman monuments to build it.
Actually, there are several destinations in southern Spain where you can still find a rich coexistence between Jewish, Christian and Islamic architectonic styles, but if you want to see the valuable contribution each of these religions made to the history of this area, Seville should be your destination of choice.
Arab History in Seville
When the Giralda was built, the Almohads governed the region and it was them who ordered the construction of the minaret. This monumental work was built by joining load-bearing walls with 35 ramps that remain intact. And in case you wonder why they are so broad and high, the fact is that they were designed like that so that two people could climb them at the same time on horseback. You’ll have to climb them on foot, so prepare for a good workout, and in case you lose track of your progress, simply look at the signage on the ramps; they’ll help you count the number of flights you’re missing.
After the Christians reconquered Spain, a devastating earthquake destroyed the mosque and, unfortunately, only two parts of the structure survived: the Patio de los Naranjos (Court of the Oranges), which can still be seen from the tower’s windows, and the minaret. Later, when they built a gothic cathedral where the mosque used to stand, they decided to rescue the tower, so they added some elements in order to transform it into a belfry.
The name Giralda comes from the word girar (to spin) and it means “she who turns”. It refers to the 4-meter tall bronze sculpture that tops the belfry and that represents the victory of faith.
Giralda Bell Tower
In your trip, visit the cathedral first because you can only access the Giralda from inside the building. After the long climb, enjoy the rewarding 360-degree view of Seville and try to spot the city’s main buildings. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to listen to the bell chimes while being there.