13th August 997 was a deadly day for Santiago de Compostela. On that day, the bells of Santiago were ripped out of the burnt and destroyed Cathedral and carted on over 800 kms on the backs of Christian prisoners to the Cordoba moque by Al mansur, who yearly attacked Christian towns and villages, razing the cathedrals, destroying the towns and enslaving the population. The bells and the doors of the cathedral were installed in the mosque in Cordoba, while they were lost the bells were not. They were hung from the ceiling and used as lamps.
But these bells are now here – sometimes you just walk into history.
These beds are back, because in 1236, Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain in the Reconquista brought these bells back from Cordoba and put them into Santiago, and they were dragged back by Muslim prisoners.
However, the Cathedral was being rebuilt and these bells never got put back to use. A side note: as they were considered the spoils of war they could not be used again.
So I’m literally stepping into history.
The bells are in the cloister above the cathedral, you need to buy a ticket to visit the museum – there is a wealth of artifacts, but in my opinion, the bells and the actual copy of the Codex Calixtinus are the best. In this photograph, they look small and insignificant, but in the video, you can see the true scale of the bells. After all they were the timekeepers of the city, as well as calling the people to prayer.
The Ancient Bells of Santiago
I’ve had complaints that my book, The Camino Ingles: 6 Days to Santiago has very little historical context, so in the latest version, I have added some cultural context. It has also been completely updated for 2020. Click the button below to get the book and escape!