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WHO SAID THAT? WHO DID THAT?

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The 'other' Giralda
10 May 2019 @ 23:01

Driving along the road ‘N-340’ southbound, just entering the province of Tarragona you’ll find the town of L'Arboç (Baix Penedès), which boasts a scaled replica (1:2) of the famous Giralda in Seville, which was begun in 1184 by the then Muslim rulers of Spain, and was designed by mathematician and astronomer Jabir ibn Aflah.

 

The charming legend around the origin of the construction of this replica of Seville’s ever-famous minaret-bell tower is far more popular than the true story, even amongst many of the local town’s inhabitants.

The false story about the origin of the Giralda of L’Arboç  itells the story of a married couple who had emigrated from Seville  and after several years of living there,  greatly missed their Giralda, the emblem of their hometown. Sighing day and night and longed ever so much to see it again. The years passed and thanks to a lot of hard work they had amassed a great fortune, but their businesses were so important that it was impossible to return to their homeland. So they thought that if they could not go to live next to their treasured monument, they would have to bring it to them, and they commissioned an exact scaled replica so they could enjoy it every day for the rest of their lives.

 

            

 

But obviously this story, full of romance and nostalgia, is not exactly true but not far from it. The true story behind why there is a replica of the Giralda of Seville in the province of Tarragona, is as follows:

This striking monument which is more than a century old, was a tribute that Joan Roquer i Marí and Candelaria Negravernis wanted to pay for their trip to Andalusia on their first wedding anniversary. Extravagant, yes, but the young couple had received in 1886 a considerable fortune from the girl’s Indian uncle who had made his fortune in America. This led them to invest in several cultural projects, including the construction of the Teatro Romea in Barcelona or the Arbosense Theatre, originally the hometown of Joan, although he resided in Barcelona.

Their healthy economic position led  them to travel Andalusia and enjoy the buildings left by the Muslims during the time of Al-Andalus.

After several years of travel and business, in 1898 they decided to buy a plot of land of considerable size and commissioned a replica of those places that had fascinated them during their travels around the south of Spain.

A year later construction began, which lasted until 1907 and opened a year later (the ‘Giralda’ was finished in 1902). But not only the minaret was built there. Inside you can find a replica of the ‘Patio de los Leones’ from the Alhambra in Granada and a lounge covered by a Byzantine dome lined with 30 kg of gold leaf, a copy of the  ‘Hall of Ambassadors’ found in the Real Alcazar of Seville .

 

 

Thanks to the restless spirit of their owners, in the years following the Giralda of Arboç became a meeting place for characters linked closely to arts and culture, where events and music festivals were held. Today it is a cenvention center where you can even hold a wedding.

 



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