Torre de la Vela
Tower in Granada
The Torre de la Vela or Watch Tower or the Candle Tower is a watchtower within the Alhambra palace complex with superb views over the city and the surrounding mountains. It is a very recognizable feature at the Alcazaba owing to its flags and the bell tower. There are currently four flags are flown over the tower: the European flag, the Spanish flag, the Andalusian flag, and the flag of Granada.
What does the Torre de la Vela look like?
Exterior of the Torre de la Vela
The tower stands 27 meters tall, and has a solid square based of 16 by 16 meters. The interior of the tower has been modified since Moorish times, and comprised four floors supported by arches.
Interior of the Torre de la Vela
Its interior of the Torre de la Vela is made up of four floors, a basement with a dungeon and a terrace on the upper part. It is built using brick pillars, a central vault and also vaulted side galleries. Its lower part is obviously more solid to stabilize the upper parts of the tower, and as you ascend the interior space is wider. Originally and as a defensive element, it had battlements on its terrace, which were lost during earthquakes.
The Bell of the Torre de la Vela
When the Catholic Monarchs took Granada, they brought with them from Castile a bell called La Vela, “the sentinel”, to ring the victory chimes from the Moorish castle. During the time of the Catholic Monarchs, the bell-ringers were appointed by the military governor. They would normally be soldiers who had been injured in combat and they would live in the bell tower itself. The last person to live there was Encarnación “La Velera”, who was the widow of the last bell ringer.
The bell has been replaced several times over the years and the current one dates back to 1773. The bell tower was originally positioned in the corner of the tower but was moved to its current position in 1840 on the western façade, and then rebuilt in 1882 after it had been struck by lightning.
The bell was used to call the Grenadians in case of danger and to ring over the Vela valley, informing local farmers the changes in irrigation cycles and it would note the opening and closing of the sluice gates which flood the acequias on the plain below.
On January 2nd, the anniversary of the Conquest of Granada in 1492, single women of the town race to be the first to ring the bell. Superstition dictates that the first woman to reach the bell will be married by the end of the year.
Where does the Torre de la Vela get its name?
An effective watchtower for the Moors, the Torre de la Vela during the Nasrid period it was called Torre Mayor or Major Tower. In the 16th century Puerta del Sol or Gate of the Sun as it reflected in the midday façade acting as a sundial for the city. It has also been called the tower of the citadel or Tower of the Sentinel.
History of the Torre de la Vela
The tower was built by the Emirs of Granada as part of the original palace design, it is now primarily used to commemorate the day that they were overthrown. The flag of Ferdinand and Isabella was first raised from here as a symbol of the Spanish conquest of Granada on 2 January 1492.
Where is the Torre de la Vela Located?
The Torre de la Vela is located to the west of the Plaza de las Armas, south west of the Torre de las Armas, east of the Torre de Alquiza and north of the Jardín de Los Adarves and the Torre de la Pólvora.
Other names of Torre de la Vela
The Torre de la Vela has the following names: Torre de la Vela, Watch Tower, Candle Tower.
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Visiting Torre de la Vela
For opening times of the Torre de la Vela see Alhambra Opening Times.