El Miguelete - History and Facts | History Hit

El Miguelete

Valencia, Valencian Community, Spain

El Miguelete is an iconic gothic bell tower built in 1381 and joined onto Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century.

Peta Stamper

24 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About El Miguelete

El Miguelete, or Torre del Miguelete, is a Valencian Gothic-style bell tower part of the Valencia Cathedral. El Miguelete means ‘Little Michael’ and comes from the name of its biggest bell made in 1532 weighing over 10 tons.

El Miguelete history

Construction of the Valancian cathedral’s bell tower, El Miguelete, began in 1381 directed by master builder Andreu Julià of the Valencian Gothic style. The imposing design and size of the cathedral and bell tower reasserted Valencia’s Christian identity after Muslim dominance from the 8th to mid 13th century.

Additionally, the new Gothic style of El Miguelete symbolised the start of an economic and artistic ‘Golden Age’ in Valencia, as the local textile industry prospered making Valencia the most populated city in the Crown of Aragon, attracting people from across Europe.

However, it was El Miguelete’s complex design, including a helical stairwell and fine mouldings, that meant the tower took a long time to construct. In 1425, the tower up to the terrace was completed, a project to top it with a needle abandoned. Therefore, the bell of hours hung from a wooden structure like others used across the Crown of Aragon, until between 1660 and 1736 when a stone belfry was attached to the flat top of the tower.

In the 1980s, 6 of the 12 bells were electrified, later causing disruption during a commissioned performance in 1988 for the Corpus Christi. As technology evolved, however, the mechanisms were renewed and the bells’ sound improved.

El Miguelete today

For 2 euros, visitors can climb the 207 steep steps to reach El Miguelete’s top and look out across Valencia to the Mediterranean. On your way up, look out for the small hidden room called La Preso (The Prison), through which sunlight only reaches from July to August, and was used to give asylum to those fleeing injustice. You can see inside it through bars.

Every hour you can also hear ‘Little Michael’ ringing loudly across the city, along with performances by the Guild of Valencian Bellmen. Each morning the bell room is opened to the public under the Bell Ring of the Cathedral’s supervision.

Getting to El Miguelete

Valencia is a small city and public transport lets you see the city in a short time. If catching the bus, the C1 route takes you to stop Plaça de l’Ajuntament, a 350m walk from El Miguelete. You could also use Metro lines 0, 3, 5 or 7 and stop at Colón before walking ten minutes.

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