The Giralda is the
bell towerof the Cathedral of Sevillein Seville, Spain, one of the largest churches in the world and an outstanding example of the Gothic and Baroquearchitectural styles. The tower's first two-thirds is a former Almohad minaretwhich, when built, was the tallest tower in the world at 97.5 m (320 ft) in height. It was one of the most important symbols in the medieval city.
The tower, an ancient minaret from the Almohad
mosqueof Seville, is constructed in several distinct parts from different cultures. The Islamic body is the oldest part. It was built in 1184under the orders of the CaliphAbu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur by the architect Ahmad ibn Baso[DODDS, J.D. (1982): "Ahmad ibn Baso", "Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects", vol. 1. The Free Press, New York, US. ISBN 0-02-925000-5] and finished by Abu-l-Laith As-Siqilliin 1198[ [http://www.muslimheritage.com/uploads/SevilleFull.pdf ZAIMECHE. S., "Seville", Foundation for Science Technology and civilization, Manchester, August 2005 ] ] . Several old buildings, including Roman stones from the ruined city of Italica, were reused to provide construction materials. The Giralda has no stairs; instead, 34 ramps are used to ascend the tower. The ramps were sufficiently wide for the muezzinto ride a horse to the top of the tower to recite the Adhan(call to prayer).
The copper sphere that originally topped the tower fell in an
earthquakein 1365. Christiansreplaced the sphere with a cross and bell. Later, in the 16th century, the architect Hernán Ruizdesigned an belfry extension to convert the minaret to a bell tower [GALLICHAN, Walter M. (1903): "Mediaeval Towns: The Story of Seville". J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, UK.] At the top of the extension stands a statue representing Faith. According to tradition, Saints Justa and Rufina, the patronesses of Seville, are also the protectors of the Giralda.
The statue stands 4 m (13 feet) in height (7 m (23 ft) with the pedestal) and has crowned the top of the tower since its installation in
1568. The statue was originally called the "Giralda" ("weathervane") since it twists with the wind on a weathervane. With the passage of time, the tower became known as the Giralda while the statue took the name "Giraldillo".
Renaissancesection of the tower also contains a large inscription of Seville's motto, NO8DO. Alfonso X of Castilegave the motto to the city when it continued to support his rule during an insurrection. A rebus, the motto means "no me ha dejado" or "it did not abandon me" in reference to Seville's loyalty during Alfonso's civil war against his son, Sancho IV.
Covering the top of the tower is the "Lily section" of the tower. This surrounds the enclosure with the bell. In this section, located near the top of the tower, each corner has a basin containing bronze lilies. Below the statue of Faith sits a dome covered with stars.
The Giralda has several sister towers. The same architect, Jabir, who built the Giralda also built similar towers in what is now
Morocco. The tower of the Koutoubia Mosquein Marrakeshserved as a model for the Giralda and its sister, the Hassan Towerin Rabat. Several church towers in the province of Seville also bear a resemblance to the tower, and may have been inspired by the Giralda. These towers, most notably those in Lebrijaand Carmona, are popularly known as "Giraldillas". Several replicas of the Giralda have been built in the United States: one, now destroyed, in Madison Square Gardenin New Yorkand another in Kansas City. The clock tower of the Ferry Buildingin San Franciscois also based on the Giralda. The clock tower at the University of Puerto Rico's Rio Piedrascampus was also inspired by the Giralda.
* [http://www.arquired.es/users/giralda/MH/MH4%20varios/MH43%20dibujos/430.dibujosHR.htm Blueprints of Seville's Cathedral and Giralda] , by Hernán Ruiz
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