La Giralda, Seville

The Giralda bell tower of Seville
The Giralda bell tower of Seville - Photo:

The Giralda is the bell tower of Seville Cathedral. Although the original mosque was razed to be rebuilt as the Cathedral, the minaret survived to become Seville’s most iconic symbol. It is said that when the Christians conquered Seville in 1230 CH, the departing Muslims wanted to destroy the minaret but King Alfonso threatened to kill anyone who damaged it. The Giralda went on to be the model for many towers worldwide, from the United States to Russia.

  • Inside are 35 inclined platforms, wide enough to allow the muezzin (caller to prayer) to ride up to the top on his horse five times a day and call the faithful to prayer.
  • Built in the 1180s, shortly after the minaret of the Kutubiyya mosque in Marrakesh, and to the same design, by Almohad architects, the minaret originally stood 76 metres tall and was once topped by four orbs, covered with 41 grams of gold. The sun shining on the orbs would dazzle travellers from miles away.  
  • The orbs were destroyed in a 1356 CE earthquake, which the minaret survived and have been replaced by the Christian addition of a belfry, bringing it to a height of 100 metres.  A statue symbolising faith that also acts as a weather vane (giraldilla) from which we get the name Giralda.
  • Even without the golden orbs, the Giralda is a sight to behold. Austere yet beautiful, seba (rhombus) friezes are worked in brick relief along the four sides, with mullioned windows in pointed arch and lattice frames, giving the impression of lace made solid.

Reference:  HUMA’s Travel guide to Islamic Spain

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