The sculpture that crowns the Giralda is popularly known as "the Giraldillo" and is a real symbol in Seville, as long as the tower itself. It symbolism is not clear, but some people say that it depicts the victory of the Christian faith.
It was made by Bartholomew Morel, carried out between 1566-1568 intended to be a "weathercock" or "giralda", giving the name to the tower by which it is universally known. It's a woman dressed with tunic, holding a warrior's shield in one hand, and a palm branch in the other. It measures 3.5 meters height and weighs 128 kilos.
El Giraldillo was completely restored in 2004 after centuries suffering the weather. Before moving again the sculpture to its original place on top of the tower we enjoyed a historic exhibition of the Giralda in front of the public. We'll never see it so close again. You can see some picture of this exhibition.
Nowadays you'll see an exact copy of the Giraldillo on the ground, in front of the Puerta del Principe (Prince's Gate), the Cathedral's entrance for tourists. This sculpture was placed on top of Giralda when the original one was under restoration.
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And finally we're with the most famous sight of the Cathedral and, for sure, of Seville itself, La Giralda! This is the Cathedral's belfry, worldwide famous thanks to its mix of Arab and Christian art.
This tower is, with the Oranges Trees Courtyard, one of the few remains of the ancient Almohad mosque, considered to be the sister of the minaret in Marrakech (Morocco). Undertaken by Ahmed ben Baso, the foundations, estimated at 8.5 meters, are of ashlars of stone to a height of a few 2 meters above the current ground level. Some stones actually come from the remains of Roman and Arab constructions. The tower got a total height of 82 meters, being the tallest construction in Seville (at least until the construction of Torre Cajasol).
The minaret was crowned for four spheres of golden bronze but it was destroyed as a result of earthquake of 1356. The current bell tower was made by the Cordovan Hernán Ruiz III between 1558-1568 reaching a total height of 103 meters in total.
It's possible to climb the Giralda using its inside ramp. In my opinion it makes the exercise a bit easier than with regular stairs because it was prepared to reach the top riding a horse and the elevation is not so bad. Good luck!!
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The first thing you notice when you see the immense Cathedral, is this tower beside it. My first thoughts were that they looked so out of place together. The Cathedral was Gothic and the Tower was Moorish. What a strange combination.
It seems that when it was decided to tear down the Great Mosque that was on the present site of the Cathedral, they couldn't bring themselves to destroy the beautiful tower known today as LA GIRALDA.
The total height of the Giralda Tower from the sidewalk to the weather vane is 96 metres, making it the undisputed symbol of Seville, from which excellent views of the city can be seen. You can enter the Tower by way of the Cathedral. The name of the Tower comes from the figures on the top. It is a 16th century bronze statue depicting the TRIUMPH OF THE FAITH ( Girarldillo )
The Giralda was once the minaret for the mosque in Seville. It is now the belltower for the Cathedral of Seville. You can climb the 34 ramps to the top. It's not a terribly difficult climb really, ramps are somewhat easier than stairs. It was built so that a man on horseback could ride up and down the ramps, though as I remember that might have been a tight fit. Before you knock yourself out climbing all those ramps though, remember that the privilege will cost you 9 euro. I wonder what it must have been like in earlier times, the guy guarding the top floor yells down that he needs this or that, with no pulley system or an elevator system the guys downstairs would have to schlepp the cannon (or whatever it was) all the way up those ramps! One thing you will notice at the top of the Giralda, you will get to see just how huge the Cathedral of Seville is, seeing the Patio de los Naranjos and the complex. Good view of the city.
At first you might not notice it, but the upper third of the Giralda has a different design from the 16th century that includes the bells. At the very top is the weather vane, the little figure of the Giraldillo, one of the symbols of Sevilla.
La Giralda is the bell tower of the cathedral. However it is a building on it's own. The Moors built it as a minaret. Later, catholics added the upper part with the bells. Instead of stairs, the Giralda has ramps. This was done to make it possible to ride to the top on horseback. From the top of the Giralda, you have, of course, a great view on the city. Entrance is included in the cathedral entrance fee.
La Giralda has a quite interesting story that spam over more that eight centuries. Originally built as the minaret of the XII century Moorish mosque, it was later "recycled" into the bell tower of the cathedral built by the Christians after conquering the city during the XV century. Crowning its structure, lays a huge golden figure popularly know as El Giraldillo. While the "illo" suffix is used in Spanish to refer something of small proportions, you should not be confused by its application to giraldillo, as the statue has a height of 10 meters. Now don't go over there saying you didn't learn anything while reading my pages ;-)
Nowadays, La Giralda is Sevilla's biggest tourist attraction, especially for the spectacular views that it offers to its visitors.
La Giralda is the most famous landmark of Sevilla. You can see it from almost everywhere in the city. The tower is part of the cathedral (see next tip) and is 97,5 m high. It used to be the minaret of the ancient mosque. When the christians came, they respected the arab construction of the minaret and added a bell tower in baroc style. They wanted to show that this was now the house of God and not of Allah.
The highlight for me when visiting the Cathedral was the Giralda, the bell tower.
The Giralda is over 90 metres high and is topped with a bronze weather vane.
You can climb to the bell chamber for a fantastic view of the city, and a closer look at the Gothic details of the Cathedral's roof.
Also impressive is the tower's inner construction - it consists of about 35 gently inclining ramps wide enough to allow the passage of two mounted guards on horses.
The most fascinating fact about La Giralda is that it is a must see and a must avoid at the same time.
It is a must see because...
It is almost impossible to overlook La Giralda while in Sevilla, as the bell tower of the town Cathedral is the highest building of the city and its most recognizable monument. The tower dominates a good portion of Sevilla downtown, and the views from up there are certainly remarkable.
On the other hand...
It also congregates in its surroundings the biggest amount of tourists traps of southern Europe (I just made up that statistic, so don't take it completely seriously), with a stunning collection of overpriced bars, tacky (and crappy) tourist souvenirs shops, and the unavoidable calesas (tourist chariots), which are, according to a recent statistic that I also made up, the most expensive transportation way of Sevilla.
Christians have decided to keep the minaret of the former mosque - well-known La Giralda. This minaret was built in 1198. Architect Ruis-younger reconstructed the minaret into the five circle belltower in 1568. Bronze spheres on the top of the minaret were replaced with Christian symbolics.
The viewing platform is arranged now on a tower at height of 90 meters. Rising is flat. There are no steps there. Imams rose upwards on donkeys. The largest in Europe observatory was arranged in XIII century on La Giralda.
Towering gloriously over the city of Seville, la Giralda is a surviving reminder of the Great Mosque of Ishbilia (i.e, the Arabic name for Seville). This minaret and its majestic mosque were built in 1198 AD by Almohads, during Moslem al-Andalus, and modelled after al-Koutoubia Minaret in Marrakech. So impressive was la Giralda to Europeans, it inspired the construction of church bell towers all over the continent. After the reconquest of Seville by the Catholics, the mosque was destroyed to make way for the largest cathedral in Europe, but the minaret and the adjacent courtyard were spared destruction and were incorporated into the construction of the Gothic cathedral, which began in 1401. Though it has remained largely intact, la Giralda was crowned with a Baroque bell tower in 1568. It is beautifully illuminated by night and is open to visitors during the day for exceptional vistas of the city of Seville. La Giralda is the uncontested symbol of the city of Seville.
“The first thing to do is to ascend the Giralda.”
from the 1830s ‘Handbook for Travelers in Spain’ by Richard Ford
First Things First — If it’s not the first thing you do, make sure you do it. The climb to the top of the 230-foot tall bell tower known as la Giralda, the emblem of Sevilla, is an easy one compared to other towers. Instead of stairs the builders used 34 ramps with a gentle slope to facilitate the climb. The view is well worth your effort.
Faith, standing 13 feet high, has crowned the top of the tower since 1568. The bronze sculpture was originally called Giralda, meaning weathervane, because it twists with the wind. As time went by, the tower became known as la Giralda while Faith came to be called Giraldillo.
The Giraldillo symbolises the Catholic faith. The Renaissance figure wears a tunic, with a warrior’s shield in one hand and a palm frond of peace in the other.
As you wait in line at Puerta San Cristobal to enter the cathedral, there is a copy of the Giraldillo to keep you company. In a most democratic fashion, the citizens of Sevilla were asked which they wanted at the top of the tower. The majority chose the original.
A visit to Seville and not to the Giralda is like eating a sandwich with no filling! The sheer size of this cathedral humbles you instantly and the tour inside is a must. For approx 6 euros you can wander around this magnificent place built during the 15th and 16th centuries, where you will see the tomb and some bone relics of Christopher Colombus and one of the largest church organs in the world. Its is the biggest cathedral in Spain and was even chosen several years ago to be the site of the wedding of Elena,the eldest daughter of Juan Carlos King of Spain. The bell tower was built on the site of a 12th century arab minaret, and at 94 mts is the tallest building in Spain. Do take the time and effort to climb to the top of the tower, the sights of Seville are amazing. Opening times are Mon-Sat 11.00 to 17.00. Sun 14.00-18.00 and Sunday entrance is free.
La Giralda is topped by a four-meter windvane (a windvane in Spanish means "hiraldio"). The name of the minaret-belltower is explain with such a fact. The copy of the windvane is installed in the front of an entrances in the Cathedral.
The Giralda is one of the best surviving examples of architecture from Almohad times. The intricate brick pattern on the exterior walls served as a model to many other Islamic structures built in Europe. The Giralda was built in the 12th century as a minaret to the adjoining mosque. As with may religious shrines of conquered cultures, the Spanish built a cathedral on the site of the old mosque but incorporated the Giralda as the cathedral's bell tower. As a result, the upper portions of the Giralda that contain the bells were added in the 16th century.
Entrance to the Giralda is inside the Cathedral in the corner to the left of the main altar. The cool thing about going up is that there are no steps but instead there are a series of ramps that were used so that persons could ride horses up to the top. A great view of the city is your reward at the top.
The Cathedral, and hence the Giralda, is open from 11am-6pm, Mon-Sat and 2:30pm-7pm Sundays during Sep-Jun and 9:30am-4:30pm, Mon-Sat and 2:30pm-7pm Sundays during July and August. Entrance fee is 7 euros and includes entrance to the Giralda.
Sundays are FREE!