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Simple bell gable at the St. James' Church of Entença, near the Pyrenees.

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.[1]

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.[2] (little-chair bell tower) because it reminds one of the back of a chair.

In Écija the bell tower of the church of Santa Bárbara fell destroyed by a lightning strike in 1892 and was replaced by an espadaña,[3] a more expedient solution than rebuilding the tower.

Main types and styles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Luis Navarro García, América en el siglo XVIII. Los primeros Borbones, ISBN 978-84-321-2107-4
  2. ^ Romànic de la Vall de Camprodon
  3. ^ Ramon Freire Galvez, Écija, lo que no conocimos.... lo que perdimos... Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]