The bell gable (Spanish: espadaña, French: clocher-mur, Italian: campanile a vela) is an architectural element crowning the upper end of the wall of church buildings, usually in lieu of a church tower. It consists of a gable end in stone, with small hollow semi-circular arches where the church bells are placed. It is a characteristic example of the simplicity of Romanesque architecture.
Bell-gables or espadañas are a feature of Romanesque architecture in Spain. Since they were easier and cheaper to build than a church tower or bell tower, they are especially common in small village churches throughout the Iberian Peninsula. This simple and sober architectural element would later be brought to the Americas and the Philippines by Iberian colonizers.
The bell gable usually rises over the front façade wall, but in some churches it may be located on top of any other wall or even on top of the toral arch in the midst of the roof. In Catalonia and the Valencian Community bell-gables are also known as campanar de paret (wall bell tower) or campanar de cadireta. (little-chair bell tower) because it reminds one of the back of a chair.
Main types and styles
Four-eyed bell gable at Sant Pere d'Ullastret church
Espadaña at the Church of San Francisco, Écija
The espadaña of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Vega, Haro, Spain
Sant Jaume d'Enveja church with its large bell-gable
Static bells struck by solenoid-operated hammers in a bell-gable.
Ermita de Valmayor Valdemorillo (Spain)
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- Bamboo or Brick: The travails of building churches in Spanish Colonial Philippines by Jose Regalado Trota, Ayala Museum