The Giralda – Spain Travel

The famous Giralda of the Seville Cathedral, is an old Arabian tower, built, so it is affirmed, in the year one thousand, after the design of the architect Gaver, inventor of algebra; modified in its upper portions after the conquest, and then changed into a Christian bell tower; but it is always Arabian in appearance, and decidedly prouder of the fallen standards of the vanquished than of the cross which the victors have recently placed upon it. It is a monument which produces a novel sensation; it makes one laugh; for it is as immense and impossible as an Egyptian pyramid, and at the same time as gay and lovely as the kiosk of a garden. It is a square brick tower, of a very beautiful rose color, quite bare up to a certain point, and from here up ornamented with little Moorish mullion windows, scattered here and there at random, and furnished with small balconies that produce a pretty effect.

On the floor, upon which the variegated roof formerly rested, surmounted by an iron beam that supported four enormous gilt balls, rises the Christian bell tower, three floors in height; the first occupied by the bell, the second encircled by a balustrade, and the third formed by a species of cupola, upon which turns, like a weather vane, a colossal statue of gilt bronze, representing Faith, with a palm in one hand and a standard in another, visible at a great distance from Seville, and when the sun strikes it, gleaming like an enormous ruby, set in the crown of a Titan king, which is dominating with its eye the whole Andalusian valley.

I climbed the top, and there was amply re-paid for the fatigue of the ascent. Seville, as white as a city of marble, encircled by a wreath of gardens, groves, and avenues, in the midst of a country scattered with villas, extends before the eyes in all its oriental beauty, The Guadalquiver laden with ships traverses and embraces it in one broad turn. Here the Torre del Oro mirrors its graceful form in the blue waters of the river, there the Alcazar raises its austere towers, farther away the Montpensier gardens thrust above the roofs of the buildings an immense mass of verdure. The glance penetrates the bull-circus, into the gardens of the squares, the “patios” of the houses, the cloisters of the churches, and into all the streets which converge around the cathedral. In the distance one discovers the villages of Santiponce, Algaba, and others which gleam on the hillsides; on the right of the Guadalquiver is the great suburb of Triana; on one side, far, far away, are the indented crests of the Sierra Morena; on the opposite side are other mountains varied by an infinite number of blue tints; and above this marvelous panorama lies the purest, most transparent and enchanting sky that ever smiled on the eye of man.