We almost didn't make it to our tour of the bell tower at the Basilica Parroquial of Girona, Spain. We knew we had to meet at 9:30 am but didn't know where. As we sat in the lobby of our hotel at 9:45, we realized that we must have misunderstood the instructions. Lucky we bought a local SIM Card to be able to text our guide and found out that we were indeed waiting at the wrong spot.
Wondering if we should still go since the bells were ringing at 10:00 am, we almost decided to go back to our hotel room to catch a few more hours of rest. Thank God we decided to jump in a taxi instead.
When we got to the meeting point, we started our short tour of Girona before entering the Basilica. I was worried that we'd be doing a “walking tour” of the town as we slowly made our way to the Basilica, but was happy to see that we were just stopping at a few sights en route. I find walking tours to be a great way to orient yourself to a city, but I they tend to be a bit uninteresting to the both of us and we've had our fair share of tedious walking tours through the years. Lucky, this one didn't last long and was quite interesting, before we knew it we were inside the basilica climbing our way to the top of Girona.
I love going behind the looking glass.
We've walked through a lot of churches in our day and while most of them are beautiful, we don't get a lot of excitement out of it. But when you add a new element to seeing a church like sneaking through their back corridors and climbing up towers, it can be a ton of fun.
The Basilica of Girona is a grand old church that has a lot of history yada yada yada…but who cares, we got to ring her bells!
The Bell Tower of Girona
We climbed the spiralling staircase up to the top of the city where we listened to our guide talk about the bells meanings. Here at the Basilica they only ring the bells five times a year on holidays such ast Easter, Corpus Christy and Good Friday. We could only imagine what the towns people were thinking when the bells started ringing out of the blue. Maybe they thought it was a holiday and they could go back to bed. 😀
I cannot tell a lie, we were spoiled because we had the wonderful Jaume Marin of Costa Brava tourism with us and he asked the custodian of the church if we could give the bells a ring after his demonstration and even though he initially said that nobody could ring the bells, he couldn't resist Jaume's charm. How could anyone say no to that face?
When I first pulled the rope, I thought it was going to be very heavy. There are different sizes of bells and I decided to ring the largest first. Expecting that I would have to pull hard to make the bell move, I made a stance and was caught off guard with how easy it was. The bells themselves don't move like they do in the movies, so you really are simply pulling a very light rope to make a gong move and hit the static bell. We all had the chance to take a spin on the bells and after a good few minutes we finally stopped. Whatever were the people of Girona thinking?
After our bell lesson, we walked through the upper portion of the Cathedral to tour some of the old rooms that are not in use. It's interesting to see the restoration that goes into a place. Behind the ornate main cathedral lies chipping walls, peeling paint, old doors and plain rooms. It is still interesting to see as everything is massive, but when travelling, one forgets just how much work went into restoring all of the grand structures that we visit.
As we emerged from on of the dark alleyways, we found ourselves above the main cathedral looking down at the alter and pews. What a view! It was an entirely different experience looking at the inside of the church from above. We had the opportunity to walk around the entire narrow corridor lining the ceiling of the church. As tourists and worshippers walked in and out, we hovered silently above checking out every detail of the craftsmanship of the structure.
So much time and effort went into building these churches of Europe. It must have been long and tedious work, but we are glad they did it. Churches of Europe are one of the biggest attractions of the continent. Dave always jokes that “we find religion every time we visit Europe.” We're always exploring them and taking in the artistry and design.
I believe that the builders of these Cathedrals, Basilicas and Churches were the artistans of their day. Thought was put into every detail of the structure and religious or not, it is fascinating to slow down and take a stroll through the beautiful buildings of Europe. Especially Girona, Spain.