The Bell Tower and the Ratchet Tower

Now take a look at the magnificent 76-metre-high twin towers that stand on either side of the façade, and which still retain their Romanesque internal structure. The Bell Tower, which is easy to recognize, was the first of the two to be built, and it was covered with a mass of Baroque decoration between the 17th and 18th centuries. In the Middle Ages, it had been the setting for turbulent events, when the citizens of Compostela rose up against the noblemen. Fleeing form the furious crowd, Bishop Gelmirez and Queen Urraca took refuge here, so the people decided to set fire to the cathedral to force them out. Finally, the bishop managed to escape, but the Queen was not so lucky. She was caught and attacked by the furious mob.

The tower on the left was rebuilt eighty years after the first one, by Casas y Novoa, and made to look like the Bell Tower, as part of the refurbishment of the façade. It is known as the Carraca, or Ratchet tower, after the wooden ratchet noisemaker that is used to announce Easter worship from here. Legend has it that the noise from the ratchet led Napoleon’s troops to believe that there had been a mutiny in the city, so they decamped and fled.

Now look up at the stairway. At the bottom you will find the Visitor Reception Centre, which is located in the Crypt underneath the Portico of Glory. It is also known as the Old Cathedral, and you can buy your tickets there to visit the paying areas of the Cathedral.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos

Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)