Giralda in Seville is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic monuments of Andalusia and Spain in general. In fact, every year, this bell tower is visited by tens of thousands of tourists who are eager to climb to its highest point and enjoy the unbeatable views of the city of Seville. However, beyond its imposing structure, the monument is home to many secrets and curiosities that you probably do not know about. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about this tower.
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Giralda is taller than London’s Big Ben
It may be hard to believe, but the 104 metre-high Giralda has made this tower one of the tallest buildings in Europe. In fact, it is higher than Big Ben in London, which is 96 metres high, and it is double the size of the Tower of Pisa, which does not even reach 56 metres in height.
The weather-vane was once the largest bronze sculpture in Europe
The weather-vane on the upper part of Giralda was the largest bronze sculpture during the Renaissance era and for many centuries thereafter. It was built in 1568.
Which building did Giralda take its inspiration from?
Giralda, whose name can be translated as ‘triumph of the victorious faith‘, was built using the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech as an example, especially for its minaret. This monument, which is 25 metres shorter than the Giralda, dates from the 12th century and is considered to be one of the great architectural works of Morocco.
A bell tower with 24 bells
Many people forget the fact that Giralda is a bell tower for the Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede in Seville, which is one of the largest churches in the world. Inside this tower you can find 24 bells. 18 of them are the roll over kind and the remaining 6 are of single stroke. One of the bells is called Santa Maria Mayor, which is the largest of them all and in fact one of the largest in the world. Today the bells are programmed electronically.
What does the writing on the top of the tower mean?
If you don’t have any binoculars, it will be difficult to see what the writing around the tower near its highest point says. Moreover, it is not visible from the viewpoint of the Giralda. In particular, the inscription says «Turris fortissima nomen DNI Proverb. 18 «. In case you do not understand Latin, it means «The strongest tower is the Name of the Lord«. However, the proverb to which it refers to says «… she will be welcomed by the righteous and she will be safe», although that part was not initially included because of space problems.
The other Giraldas in Spain …
The Giralda has been used as an example for the construction of many bell towers throughout Spain. Especially striking are those in Arbós, Tarragona, and Badajoz. The Giraldilla de Carmona, although it is smaller in size, also deserves a special mention.
…in United States…
If you have ever explored Seville by car, you may have been surprised to see that one of the most important avenues in the city is called Kansas City. This is because this American city and Seville are known as sister cities. In fact, they have exact copies of the Giralda and many other monuments, such as the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes.
The Giralda was also present in New York. It made an appearance between the year 1890 and the 1920. At that time, a replica of its minaret crowned the iconic Madison Square Garden. However, because of certain defaults, it ended up being demolished.
… and in the world
But there is more. The tower of the University of San Juan, in the capital of Puerto Rico, was also built using the Giralda of Seville as an example. The same happens with the tower of Castillo de la Real Fuerza in Havana, Cuba, although, in that case, there was only one copy of the Giraldillo (weather-vane) created. In Russia and Poland, surprising as it may seem, there are also copies of this symbolic Sevillian bell tower.
In short, the importance of the Giralda in Seville in artistic and architectural terms is much greater than it might seem at first glance. The monument houses numerous secrets and, in addition, it has been copied by many cities around the world for its beauty and spectacular. Undoubtedly, one of the best experiences that can be enjoyed in Seville is to visit the tower because it’s close to Hostel Urban Sevilla.