Photograph: Margarita Sánchez LlorentePhotograph: Margarita Sánchez Llorente


Name of Monument:

Giralda

Location:

Seville, Spain

Date of Monument:

Hegira 580–94 / AD 1184–98

Architect(s) / master-builder(s):

Master builders Ahmad ibn Baso and Ali de Gomara.

Period / Dynasty:

Almohad

Patron(s):

Abu Ya’qub Yusuf (r. AH 558–80 / AD 1163–84); Abu Yusuf Ya’qub al-Mansur (r. AH 580–96 / AD 1184–99).

Description:

The most important of the peninsula's surviving religious buildings from the Almohad era is undoubtedly the minaret of the old Great Mosque of Seville, known as 'La Giralda'.
Work on the Seville mosque was started during the reign of Abu Ya'qub Yusuf, who had lived in Seville as a governor before acceding to the throne, and once he had become the caliph, he made the city the residence of the Almohad caliphs in the peninsula. The size and grandiosity of the new mosque demanded the addition of a great minaret, and the work was entrusted to the master builder Ahmad ibn Baso, who dug the foundations of the tower in AH 580 / AD 1184. The death of the sovereign that same year caused work to be suspended until his son and successor Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur arrived in Seville in AH 584 / AD 1188–9, ordering the work to be recommenced under the direction of Ali de Gomara. The minaret was finished on 30 Rabi al-Thaany AH 594 / 10 March AD 1198, on which date the Caliph, surrounded by his court and the people of Seville, attended the placement of the yamur, three golden balls on top of the tower that were commissioned to commemorate the battle of Alarcos.
The minaret, attached to the eastern wall of the mosque and protruding from its outer perimeter, consists of two square-plan volumes, one inside the other, supported on a central base from which seven vaulted chambers rise. The ramp providing access to the upper part runs in between the two volumes. The height from floor to terrace is 50.85 m.
Practically all of the exterior decoration on the four sides of the minaret has survived. The lower part is smooth, interrupted only by the lighting apertures, with horseshoe and lobed arches framed with alfiz panels. Around the middle of the tower, the decoration on each of the sides splits into three. The middle section, like the lower part, contains lighting apertures, in this case made up of twin windows beneath a large blind arch framed with an alfiz panel. The side sections are covered with a network of carved and cut bricks on a smooth base formed by the extension and crossing of two blind arches on columns. The upper part of the tower is decorated with another ten arches with blind fronts that, like the previous ones, rest on marble columns with Umayyad capitals and shafts. As with other monuments of this type, the minaret is topped with stepped battlements, some of which have survived on the parapet of the existing bell tower.
In 1355, an earthquake destroyed the yamur, and in 1560, in Christian times, work was started on the new structure, which was finished with an enormous weather vane known popularly as 'giralda', hence the name of the tower.

View Short Description

The minaret of the great Almohad mosque that dominates Seville is the city’s most important monument. The name Giralda is derived from the weathervane-like statue that crowns the building. It has survived in full, with the exception of the very top which was replaced in the AH 10th / AD 16th century with a Christian bell tower.
It is made of brick and has ramps connecting the seven superposed rooms. The decorative networks of rhombuses that spring from the Cordoban capitals and columns salvaged by the Almohads from the ruins of Madinat al-Zahra are also made of brick.

How Monument was dated:

According to the chronicles of Ibn Said al-Sala, work on the mosque started in AH 568 / AD 1172. In AH 580 / AD 1184 the foundations of the minaret were dug. The official inauguration took place in AH 594 / AD 1198.

Selected bibliography:

Casamar, M., “Almorávides y Almohades: Introducción”, in Al-Andalus: Las Artes Islámicas en España, Madrid, 1992, pp.75–83.
Jiménez Martín, A., “Las Mezquitas”, in Sevilla Almohade, Seville-Rabat, 1999.
Torres Balbás, L., Arte Almohade, Arte Nazarí, Arte Mudéjar, Ars Hispaniae,Vol. IV, Madrid, 1949, pp.23–9.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Giralda" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;es;Mon01;9;en

Prepared by: Margarita Sánchez LlorenteMargarita Sánchez Llorente

Margarita Sánchez Llorente cursó estudios de Historia del Arte y Psicología en la facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, obteniendo la licenciatura en 1974.Tras realizar numerosos cursos de posgrado en museología y documentación del patrimonio histórico-artístico y arqueológico, le fueron concedidas varias becas de investigación en museística. De 1989 a 2000 trabajó en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, en la gestión y documentación de los proyectos de la Unión Europea: EMN (European Museum Network), RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives) y –como colaboradora del departamento de Antigüedades Egipcias y del Próximo Oriente– Champollion. Ha participado en numerosos coloquios y encuentros internacionales y publicado varios artículos sobre las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas a la documentación en los museos.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 10

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