Micalet

( Miguelete Tower )

The Miguelete Tower is the bell tower of the Valencia Cathedral in Valencia, Spain. It is known as El Miguelete in Castilian Spanish or Torre del Micalet in the Valencian language. Construction of the tower began in 1381 and was completed in 1429. Due to its complexity and long years of construction, it was successively directed by several master builders; the first being Andrés Juliá, from 1381. Others were José Franch (1396), Pedro Balaguer (1414, builder of the Torres de Serranos); to Martín Llobet (1425), the last of the architects to work on the construction. Subsequently, the belfry was added (1660-1736).

The Miguelete Tower is a Valencian Gothic style tower,[1] it is 51 m. high to the terrace, and it is 63 m. (206.7 ft.) in total. It has the shape of an octagonal prism and has 207 steps.

For many centuries it was called "New Bell" or "Champ of the Cathedral", to differentiate it from the "Old Bell", a square tower with a Romanesque style that was located on Barchilla Street, but little remains of the original walls. Little by little its name changed to "Torre del Miguelete" after the great bell of the hours, which has served to name the whole by metonymy.

a photo of a spiral staircase looking down 
The spiral stairs of the Miguelete Tower

Originally it was an separate tower, and it was joined to the Cathedral at the end of the 15th century when the central nave was extended. It has access through an angular portal adorned with archivolts and a passage covered with curious ribbed turns. The octagonal tower measures 50.85 m, its perimeter being equal to its height, with external decoration of diagonal buttresses on the corners and the fine moldings that indicate the different levels of the floors.

The first level is solid, leaving only the gap for the spiral staircase. The second level has a vaulted enclosure, which is the old prison or Cathedral Asylum with a single exterior window. The third level is the "Home of the Bell-Ringer", another vaulted enclosure similar to the previous one although larger and with two windows. The upper floor is the bell room with eight windows, seven of them used by the bells. The eighth corresponds to the spiral staircase, which from here becomes narrower.

In 1425 the tower was already completed to the terrace, but the spire project conceived by Antonio Dalmau was not continued. The plans are preserved in the Municipal Historical Museum of Valencia.

detailed line drawing of the Miguelete Tower by J. Laurent done in 1870. 
1870 drawing of the Miguelete Tower by J. Laurent

The bell of the hours, named El Miguelete, hung from a wooden structure, located on stone pillars, similar to that existing in many other bell towers of the Crown of Aragon. The current belfry is an attachment built between 1660 and 1736. The terrace had an elegant openwork or "pierced" crest that served as a crown and that was razed in the 18th century, being replaced first by a wooden railing and in the 19th century by a metal railing until the restoration of 1983.

The third level of the tower was often home to bell-ringers. The last bell-ringer who lived in the Miguelete Tower was Mariano Folch, who was in charge of the bells for more than sixty years and who died around 1905.[citation needed]

In 1940, the original set of eleven bells (six small and five large) had been altered with the addition of Eloy, a bell from the Santa Catalina bell tower, which at that time was about to become an icon in the middle of a prolonged Avenida de la Paz and the beginning of what would become the Plaza de la Reina. The entrance of this bell, very sonorous, modified the sound of the set.

1980s Renovation

The bell room was not modified until the electrification of the bells, which meant the removal of the wooden doors, replaced yokes, ratchets, and the large beam from which the two trebel or minor bells hung. The traditional ringing of the cathedral bells consisted of ringing the five major bells. The others were rung for the dead and in exceptional cases for an extraordinary event. The electrification, carried out by The Roses Brothers of Adzaneta de Albaida, regardless of the original characteristics, consisted of the mechanization of six bells: two trebles, one of the medium ones, Barbara, and the three minor of the large ones (Vicente, Andrés and Jaime). The solemn ringing of the five major bells of the Cathedral shifted to a more parochial form with small, medium and large bells. Mechanization was carried out as an irreversible process, which had two consequences: due to limitations of the technology of the moment, neither the mechanisms reproduced the rich variety of local ringing style, nor did the facilities allow manual ringing.

Budgetary constraints allowed only six of the twelve bells existing at that time were mechanized. Therefore, six others remained in place with all their original installation. However, the limitations of the mechanization became evident when the Valencia Bell Tower Guild was commissioned to play for the 1988 Corpus Christi procession. Several bells required significant adjustments to ring, and one could not ring at all.

^ "La torre del Micalet (el Miguelete)". Barrio del Carmen. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
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