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Constructed in 1967, The Giralda Tower is one of the most iconic structures on the Country Club Plaza. Standing at 138 feet tall and including a bell tower and weathervane, it is a nearly half-scaled model of The Giralda in Seville, Spain. After visiting Seville in 1922, Country Club Plaza developer J. C. Nichols had plans for an iconic tower but a location was never decided. Years later, Miller Nichols, son of J. C., brought the idea to life when a local landscaping company moved out of the corner of 47th and Nichols Road (now Mill Creek Parkway). The Giralda Tower was dedicated on October 12, 1967, as guests from both Kansas City and Seville attended, including Seville’s mayor Felix Morena de la Cova, who flipped the switch. This also marked the start of the relationship between Kansas City and Seville as Sister Cities, an international program started by President Eisenhower to promote peace. Giralda Tower is adjacent to retail space and a parking garage, and while it is easy to observe the tower from the street level, the tower itself is not open to the public.

The Giralda Tower has welcomed visitors to the Country Club Plaza sine 1967

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The Giralda Tower designed with great detail similar to its twin in Seville

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Historical Marker for the The Giralda Tower

Plant, Font, Grass, Commemorative plaque

La Giralda in Seville, Spain - the inspiration for Kansas City's Giralda Tower

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The white building with a smokestack seen in this postcard was the Chandler Floral Shop, the original building at this location. Courtesy of Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library

Building, Plant, Tree, Tints and shades

Real estate developer J. C. Nichols designed the Country Club Plaza using a heavy Spanish influence upon its construction in 1923. After visiting Seville, Spain in 1922, Nichols was inspired by the architecture and had plans to incorporate a tower into the Plaza’s design that was based on The Giralda. He never found the perfect location for a structure so large. It wasn’t until 1967 when J. C.’s son Miller brought the idea to life after the Chandler Landscaping and Floral Company moved out of the corner at 47th and Nichols Road.

The Giralda is one of the most iconic buildings in Seville, Spain. It was built between 1184-1198 as a minaret (a slender tower used for prayer) that adjoined the Almohad Great Mosque of Seville. It was the tallest tower in the world at the time, standing at 320 feet and constructed with 35 ramps in place of stairs so the Sultan could ascend the tower on horseback. Centuries later, Catholics constructed a cathedral within the mosque and added a bell tower atop the minaret. Designed in Renaissance style, the bell tower housed 26 bells as well as a sculpture on top that turned to show the direction of the wind. The tower took on its iconic name shortly after, The Giralda, which translates from Spanish to weathervane. It was declared a National Heritage site on December 29, 1928. 

Using Spanish Colonial Revival style Nichols built a nearly half-scaled model replica of The Giralda, standing at 138 feet tall. The bell tower housed a large carillon (a pitched percussion instrument consisting of a minimum of 23 bells that are suspended, tuned in chromatic order, and played with a keyboard) which has been noted to contain 600 bells. It was manufactured by Schulmerich Carillons, Inc of Pennsylvania and had manual and automatic operating functions. The bells were set to chime on every hour and play music daily, while musicians also played live music on its keyboard.

The tower was dedicated on October 12, 1967, along with its companion structure the Seville Light Fountain, which can be seen in the adjacent intersection. Attendance to the dedication included about 1800 Kansas Citians and 43 visitors from Seville, Spain, including their mayor Felix Morena de la Cova, who flipped the switch. This day also marked the beginning of the relationship between Kansas City and Seville as Sister Cities, an international program created by President Eisenhower to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation. During the ceremony, a 30-minute concert was performed by Liberty Memorial’s carillonneur that led with the song “People” from the musical Funny Girl. Concerts became a tradition throughout the 1970s, especially around the holidays.

Hill, Kate. Remember the Giralda Tower bells? KCQ wants to know, Kansas City Public Library. May 20th 2021. Accessed November 24th 2021.

Giralda, Qantara Mediterranean Heritage. Accessed November 24th 2021.

The Giralda of Seville, Vista Sevilla. Accessed November 25th 2021.

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