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La Giralda, Seville

View all images in our La Giralda Photo Gallery.
Photo © Adrian Fletcher.

The Giralda in Seville is one of three remaining Almohad minarets in the world (the others are in Marrakesh and Rabat, Morocco).

The beautiful structure became the bell tower of Seville Cathedral after the Reconquista and it dominates the city's skyline.

History

The Giralda (named for the giraldillo or weather vane on its summit) was the minaret of the mosque that was replaced by Seville Cathedral.

Built in 1184-96, the tower was the culmination of Almohad architecture. It is considered the finest of the three great Almohad minarets: the other two are in the Moroccan cities of Rabat and Marrakesh.

Topped with four copper spheres that could be seen for miles around, the Moorish tower was used both to call the faithful to prayer and as an observatory over the city.

La Giralda was so venerated by the Moors that they wanted to destroy it before the Christian conquest of the city in 1248. This was prevented by King Alfonso X, who declared that "if they removed a single stone, they would all be put to the sword." The Giralda thus preserved, it became the bell tower of the Christian cathedral (begun 1402).

Several additions were made to the Giralda in the Renaissance era, after an earthquake (1356) destroyed the original copper spheres that topped the tower. Four more levels were added at the top for the belfry (1560-68), which was topped by an Italian bronze sculpture of "Faith." Balconies were also added.

What to See

The tower structure below the bells is that of the original Almohad minaret. Its simple beauty derives from the shadows formed by blocks of brick trelliswork, different on each side, and a succession of arched niches and windows. Despite the Renaissance additions, La Giralda remains one of the most beautiful monuments of the Islamic world.

The tower's inner construction is nearly as impressive as the outer. There are no stairs. Instead, there is a series of 35 gently inclined ramps that are wide enough to allow two guards on horseback to pass. The long climb is richly rewarded with glimpses of the cathedral's buttresses and gargoyles on the way up and a dazzling view of Seville at the top.

Entrance to the tower is from inside the cathedral, to the left of the Capilla Real in the northeast corner. It is open the same hours as the cathedral and the cost is included with cathedral admission.


Quick Facts on La Giralda

Site Information
Names:Giralda Tower; La Giralda; La Giralda, Seville
City:Seville
State:Andalusia
Country:Spain
Categories:Mosques
Faiths:Islam; Christianity
Styles:Almohad
Dates:1184-96
Status:active
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Seville, Spain
Coordinates:37.386104° N, 5.992543° W  (view on Google Maps)
Website:catedraldesevilla.es
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of La Giralda

Below is a location map and aerial view of La Giralda. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Personal visit (April 3, 2007; exterior only).
  2. The Giralda - The Rough Guide to Spain
  3. Catedral de Sevilla and Giralda Tower - Frommers.com
  4. Seville Cathedral - Paradoxplace

More Information

Article Info

Title:La Giralda, Seville
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:01/05/2010
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/seville-giralda
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/seville-giralda">La Giralda, Seville</a>