La Giralda: Seville's stunning bell tower

Photo of The Giralda (Andalucia region)

Visit The Giralda

The Giralda tower is one of the iconic monuments of Seville. It is the bell tower of Seville cathedral though was originally built as a minaret for the mosque which stood here before the cathedral.

Explore La Giralda

The Giralda minaret was built in the 12th century by Ahmed Ben Baso who also built three more similar minarets- the Kutubia in Marrakesh, the Hassan tower in Rabat and the Mansuriah in Tremecen. It is probably the oldest building in Seville.

Originally 76 meters high the Minaret was of powerful religious significance to the Moors and when they were conquered by Prince Alfonso they asked to be allowed to destroy the minaret. Alfonso refused saying that "If only one brick were removed from the tower they (the Moors) would all be stabbed to death".

A Renaissance belfry was added to the existing Minaret in the 16th century along with balconies and a weather vane in the shape of a woman. "Giralda" means tower weather vane with a human or animal shape in Spanish and this word was adopted for the whole tower. The weather vane itself became known as the Giraldillo though in Seville it is nicknamed "the Giant". A copy of the Giraldillo can be seen at ground floor next to one of the cathedral entrances.

The structure as a whole is beautiful and is equally stunning at night when it is illuminated. Indeed visit the rooftop bar across from the Giraldi and you can enjoy a view of the tower at eye level whilst sipping a cocktail and watching the sun go down and the illuminations turned on - wonderful.

Included in the price of a cathedral visit is a visit to the top of the Giralda tower. Fortunately though the tower is now 93 meters high (with the addition of the belfry) you reach the top by walking up 35 ramps rather than steps. Ramps were originally built so that the mezzin could climb to the top on horseback each day as he mounted to call the faithfull to prayer. The climb is therefore steep but much easier than it would have been if it were all steps.

Once at the top the views are fabulous in all directions.

There is an inscription carved around the Giralda which reads "TURRIS FORTISSIMA NOMEN DNI PROVERB. 18" which means "The name of the Lord is a strong tower."

The Patio de los Naranjos

The only other remains from the old mosque is the Patio de Los Naranjos which is a kind of internal courtyard in the cathedral and is where the Muslims carried out their ablutions. The courtyard is very pretty with rills carrying canals of water and orange trees planted throughout. The surrounding walls are engraved with passages from the Coran.

Galeries at the edges contain the Chapter library and the Colombino Library and the chapel of the Virgen de Granada which also remains from the Mosque.

Other attractions to see in Seville include:

The cathedral

The Alcazar

The Barrio Santa Cruz district

The El-Arenal district

More places to see in Seville

See also:

Photos of The Giralda

Click any picture to start the gallery

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Map of The Giralda and places to visit

The Giralda places to visit

See more places nearby in the Andalucia guide