From its conception in 1195, conquistadors and conquered ensured its integrity and care. When Fernando III conquered the city in 1248 and demolished the Mosque where the cathedral stands today, he however decided to preserve the Alminar. The latter tower had served to call to prayer until then. More than a century later, the earthquake of 1356 sanctioned the partial destruction of the top of the minaret, which was subsequently replaced by a more restrained and simple top.
Conscious of its undeserved and lacklustre finish, architect Hernán Ruiz was asked to carry out a reconstruction of the top of the tower in 1558, a project widely considered adventurous and unworkable at the time. The origin of the name Giralda derives precisely from these reconstruction efforts carried out in the 16th century. In order to give the Alminar’s top its ancient splendour back and to adapt it to the prevailing architectonic canon, Ruiz conceived the statue of a woman, symbol of Christian faith. A mixture between beauty and engineering— since the statue moved according to the wind’s direction. This movement, or giro in Spanish, gives its name to the Giralda.
The origin of the Alminar tower has been widely debated amongst historians. The most widely accepted version cites Almanzor Almohad sovereign as being the driving force behind its construction, reflecting the elegance of his reign. The Alminar was carefully designed in a simple and efficient way. Its walls are getting thicker as height increases to assure stability. This transition is appreciated by the tourist while walking up through the ramps, the walls being 1,30m at its narrowest point and 1,50m at its thickest. The ramps allow an easy and enjoyable walk along the 97 meters until the top, offering a superb panorama of the city. Never forget Sevilla’s notoriously high temperatures, especially during summer, when choosing the time of your visit.
The Giralda is today one of the best preserved towers of its time and has influenced the architecture and design of many other towers since then, even if it was not the unique example at the time. According to the legend, the project architect Guever also designed two additional towers in Morocco during those years. The first one, the Kutubia tower in Marrakech in 1190 and later, coetaneous to the Giralda, the Hassan tower in Rabat in 1195.
The Giralda’s influence can also be traced back to more recent times, in particular to 20th Century American architecture. The first example is the second Madison Square Garden building of 1890 in New York, which starkly contrasted with the surroundings in Midtown and was unfortunately demolished in 1926. Later on, the Sevillian monument also inspired the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco (1898) and Miami’s current museum of art + design, the Freedom tower (1925). The most recent example of the Giralda’s far-reaching influence is its half-scale replica built in Kansas City, Seville’s twin sister city, in 1967.
Our inspiring monument shares importance, timetables and ticket counters with its neighbour, the Cathedral. The timetables vary from winter to summer, being:
Winter, Mon-Sat 11:00-17:00; Sundays 14:30-18:00
Summer, Mon-Sat 9:30-16:00; Sundays 14:30-18:00
The price for non-residents in Seville is 8€ for adults. Free entrance is offered to children under 16 (accompanied by an adult).