Medieval Bells in Valencia Spain

This month I have another “live” cast recorded in the city of Black RiceValencia.  Over the course of the podcast, I walk up the main bell tower of the Cathedral of Valencia to listen to the huge bell at the top, nicknamed the “micalet,” strike noon.  Along the way, with a few other bells woven in for good measure, I talk about how large cast bells first came to be used in late Medieval Europe and what they symbolized for the Christians who rang them.  Bells in medieval Europe took on distinct personalities often with inscriptions speaking in the first person talking about all of the good that a bell could achieve.  In their most general sense, they made the smaller and local rituals of the mass and the liturgy within a church building legible and audible for a much wider space, defining a sonic community of all those who could hear the bell and recognize what its ringing represented.

In the podcast, I mention a few differen bells, a film, and one bell recast as a chandelier (yes, really!)  So here are their images and links for reference:

pretty tall?
The bell tower in Valencia
Micalet Bell
The Micalet Itself
Ear protection for the bell ringers…
qarawiyyin bell lamp
A medium sized bell turned into a lamp for the Qarawiyyin Madrasa and Mosque
And a bell with a kid…just because (see the bell inscription?)


Since we’re in Valencia, some sort of dish with rice is obvious required.  Paella is ridiculously common – even though this would often be a dinner or full meal, but hey, in Spain they also eat the large meal in the middle of the day, so think of it as a really big lunch.  However, traditional Valencian paella is usually made with chicken, rabbit, breen beans, and snails (yeah…snails…no seafood – that’s considered a different dish.)  But I recommend if you can find it a good arròs negre.  This is a rice dish with a bunch of seafood (muscles, clams, sometimes cuttlefish) that is then flavored with garlic and squid ink, turning it pretty black and very fishy.  The image here has it served with roasted peppers and you almost always get it with a side of alioli, which is delicious.

And lastly, a bit of bibliography:

O. R. Constable, “Regulating Religious Noise: The Council of Vienne, the Mosque Call and Muslim Pilgrimage in the Late Medieval Mediterranean World,” Medieval Encounters 16 (2010) 64–95.

Michelle Garceau, “‘I call the people.’ Church bells in fourteenth-century Catalunya,” Journal of Medieval History, Volume 37, Issue 2, 2011.

Arnold and Goodson, “Resounding Community: The History and Meaning of Medieval Church Bells,” in Viator 43 No. 1 (2012) 99–130.


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