Four Bells Toll Whom?

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Bell Tower, Mezquita-Cathedral, Córdoba, Spain

The Sun emerged over the ancient walls of the Mezquita in Córdoba, Spain. The sky was clear and perfectly blue. The bright light slowly moved down the bell tower and highlighted each architectural flourish. It enhanced the colors of the stone and the well-worn bells and their framework.

The stone sculpture and ornamentation showed signs of weathering.

The bells stood ready. They are part of the communication to worshipers from the cathedral within the Mezquita. But the stones that contain the bells began their service as part of another call to worship.

The Mezquita (Spanish for mosque) in Córdoba is an enormous stone building filled with a spell-binding expanse of columns and arches designed to mimic the open feeling of the desert. It was built on the site of, and incorporates portions of, the church of St Vincent. In 784 this site of both Visigothic and Roman structures was purchased for the expanding Muslim population. The Mezquita was built on the site. Córdoba remained an important center of Muslim Spain (Al-Andalus or Andalucía) until the reconquest in 1236. In the 16th century King Carlos I ordered the construction of a cathedral in the center of the Mezquita.

The original minaret was also reconstructed. This photo shows the reconstructed and encased minaret. It was originally 48 meters (157 feet) tall. In the 16th century it was rebuilt into this bell tower and now stands 22 meters (72 feet) tall. So this tower began as a minaret to call Muslims to worship.

I spent two long mornings photographing inside the Mezquita-cathedral. It is a singular place of beauty and history. I will post some of the photos from the interior in this blog later. This photo was taken while I was waiting for the Mezquita to open. The grounds of the Mezquita, which cover several square blocks, are enclosed within a tall wall near the river Guadalquivir. This bell tower is incorporated into the wall on the north side.

Sorry for the title of this posting which is a distortion of the title of one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous books. For Whom The Bell Tolls is set in Spain and tells stories of the Spanish Civil War but didn’t have anything to do with this Mezquita, but I saw the four bells and somehow ….

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