Home News La Giralda defies the passage of time: ever closer to the original

La Giralda defies the passage of time: ever closer to the original

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La Giralda defies the passage of time: ever closer to the original

La Giralda is the best-known monument in Seville, visited last year by almost 2.5 million tourists. La Giralda is the bell tower of the so-called Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede. The lower part of the tower is the minaret of the old Almohad mosque from the late 12th century. The upper part is a superimposed construction in the 14th century, to house the bells, already in Christian times. According to the Archdiocese of Seville in its documentary collection, the first contemporary project to restore the tower began in 1884 and the work continued for four decades.

Since then and over the years, the most famous monument in Seville has been restored for its conservation. The last one began in 2017, with the intervention of the four faces of the tower, and has now ended after seven years and a pandemic in between. “La Giralda has come closer than ever to the original tower,” said the architect responsible for these works, Eduardo Martínez Moya.

This latest conservation project has had a cost of three million eurosall paid for, exclusively, with the income derived from the sale of tickets to the cultural visit to the Cathedral.

Regarding the research and documentation work, geometric studies have been carried out on the shapes corresponding to the sebka panels – decorative elements in the shape of a rhombus – on this north face; Samples have been taken for laboratory testing of bricks, mortar, coatings, pigments, wood and metals, and tastings have been carried out to recognize the construction analysis of the execution of the factory work of the façade.

As for the restoration work, ethyl silicate has been applied to the stone elements in the areas that showed sanding, while in the case of cracks and detached pieces, intervention with fiberglass has been used. In addition, volumes have been reintegrated and ceramic pieces have been recovered. in the factories and in the sebka cloths.

Within the recovery of the stone elements, the intervention that has had to be carried out on the commemorative plaque found at the foot of the Giralda on its north face is especially significant, which has been reproduced letter by letter, after being scanned in 3D . In this way, “we know exactly what it said and we have recovered the full text”, which was posted at the time coinciding with the Giraldillo auction, Martínez Moya highlighted at a press conference.

«When Hernán Ruiz finishes his work –senior master of the Cathedral from 1557 to 1569–, not only did he finish the tower but also intervened in the entire Giralda to provide that continuity and unite two different arts – Almohad and Renaissance – separated by centuries, Martínez Moya explained. Ruiz “repainted” the tower “respecting the original colors” and made a “very complete” iconographic program, added the architect. The elements of the tower that have been completely lost, he clarifies, have been “cataloged and saved” and replaced by similar ones after their study, as has happened with a piece of stone with the face of the prophet Isaiah, he added. .

This last intervention in the Giralda“it has not only been a superficial cleaning task, but it has lived up to the great interventions carried out in the 19th century and in the 80s of the last century, the latter under the direction of the architect and master conservator Alfonso Jiménez,” For his part, the delegate of Administration and Heritage of the Cathedral Chapter, Francisco Román, highlighted.

Presentation of the final report on the restoration of the four faces of the Giralda.
Presentation of the final report on the restoration of the four faces of the Giralda.Francisco J. OlmoEuropa Press

The works will continue

After the works on the north face, the interventions on the Giralda will continue, as announced by the canon and delegate of Administration and Heritage of the Cathedral. Thus, in the future “it will be necessary to intervene in the body of bells and lilies, to restore the rest of the Almohad construction.” In this sense, it will be necessary to replace the capacity lost by the current metal structures from the end of the 19th century that are the current supports for the bells – and which already had to be intervened punctually and partially in an emergency in 2021, due to the danger. manifested in the structures corresponding to the Santa María la Mayor bell.

It is also planned to intervene inside the tower, in its ramps and chamber, and completely restore the entire Renaissance top. In this regard, the Cabildo will study various options to make the development of the works compatible with tourist visits to the interior of the Giralda. As for the investment for these next phases, it has not been made public yet.

Keys

►The first contemporary restoration works were undertaken in 1884 and lasted for four decades.

►Since then, different restoration projects have been undertaken, the last in 2017, on the four sides of the tower.

►The work will continue inside the tower, on its ramps and chamber, and the Renaissance finish will be completely restored.

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