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Home » Culture » Spain » Places » Cities » Giralda

Giralda

Giralda

La Giralda tower is a bell tower rapresenting the muslim architecture in Sevilla. Once la Giralda was one of the tallest religious structure in the world.

La Giralda tower, now bell tower to the cathedral of Sevilla, is the remains of Muslim architecture from centuries gone by. Once one of the tallest religious structures in the world, the tower today remains a beacon of antiquity and culture in Andalucía.

The minaret, or bell tower, is one of three of its kind built during the Almohad Dynsasty. The other two towers are in Morocco at Rabat and Marrakesh. A minaret is a symbol of Muslim religion and a beacon for prayer.

The tower and mosque were built between 1184-96 with the use of Roman remains and stones as part of the foundation. Later, the mosque would be torn down to make room for the cathedral of Seville.

The tower, in fact, has no steps leading to the top. Instead, a series of ramps, wide enough for two guards on horseback will take visitors past gargoyles and intricate stone work for a prize view of Sevilla from the top.

In 1248 the Christians re-conquered Sevilla from the Muslims under the leadership of King Alfonso X. The Muslims revered their tower so greatly that they threatened to tear it down brick by brick upon being sacked. “If they remove a single stone, they would all be put to the sword,” Alfonso warned; the tower remained intact and was added to the cathedral in 1402.

In 1356 an earthquake rattled the tower and destroyed the copper spheres that topped La Giralda. Between 1560-1568 renovations took place that added 4 levels to the tower and an Italian bronze sculpture of the statue “Faith” was added to the top where the spheres used to be.

In 1987 UNESCO identified the tower and cathedral as a World Heritage site.

The cathedral of Sevilla built in just over 100 years (1402-1506) is the third largest cathedral, based on area, in Europe with 11,500 square meters. The founders and architects of the cathedral wanted to make an impression on all who visited the structure, they wanted onlookers to think the creators were mad to build something so large. Sevilla´s cathedral is smaller only to St. Paul´s Cathedral in London and St. Peter´s Basilica in Rome.

At the entrance to the cathedral, Puerta de San Cristóbal, rests the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The tomb was originally kept in Havana, Cuba, where Columbus first landed in 1492. However after the uprising and Cuba declaring its independence from Spain in 1898, the remains were brought back to Sevilla, where Columbus departed Spain in search of a route to India.

The bones or remains of Columbus lay in a medium sized, ornate box held on the shoulders of four figures representing the kingdoms of León, Castille, Aragón and Navarra. The sculpted, life-size figures were created by Arturo Melida. Debate continues as to whether the remains are actually those of Columbus or possibly his brother or son. DNA testing results continue to be inconclusive. There are groups in the Dominican Republic that claim to have the remains of the famed explorer. Nevertheless, the tower, cathedral, and artwork donning the interior of these structures remain popular points of interest in southern Spain.