“EL TEMPLAT” BELL TOWER
Burriana’s Bell Tower was built as of 1363, inside the plans of King Peter IV of Aragon to fortify his kingdoms. It was erected as a fortified tower, whose purpose ranged from a defensive element to being a communications tower and public clock. Since its conception, and due to its dual uses, it was not linked to the Church and had two access doors: The one which currently provides access; and a second one which nowadays allows to access the interior of the church from the tower, but was at the base of the building.
The Bell Tower of Burriana is a prismatic building of ashlars, which draws an octagon over a square base. The interior of the Bell Tower houses a spiral staircase which provides access to the bell room. This used to have eight windows, possibly pointed ones, one of which was blocked to facilitate positioning the staircase providing access to the terrace above. In the late 17th century, the Bell Tower suffered serious damage which forced the Gothic bell room and parapet to be demolished.
The new bell room and terrace were built in line with the prevailing trend among the towns of La Plana and the Bajo Maestrazgo regions, as well as that of Valencia City itself. The bell room was covered by star-shaped ribs on corbels, following the earlier Gothic traces and reusing the old Gothic gargoyles for draining the terrace of the old build.
In the early hours of 5 July 1938, the town was shuddered by three terrifying explosions which were felt over the entire region of La Plana: 32 boxes of dynamite, placed by the Republican Army inside the Bell Tower in Burriana exploded and destroyed this precious tower, causing the destruction of many of the homes surrounding the Square and the Pla. However, the majority of the damage was suffered by those located in the area which currently houses the garden, as well as the El Salvador Parish Church and its Communion Chapel. Both lost a large part of their roofs.
The reconstruction works on the Bell Tower started in 1942 and were led by the parish mosen Elías Milián, who understood the sentimental value which the Bell Tower symbolised for the churchgoers and the population in general. For such an important action, mosen Elías entrusted the works to Vicente Piqueres Martí, seeked the economic resources and managed to successfully complete the tasks. Vicente Piqueres, carpenter-artisan, coordinated and directed the works, according to the drawings provided by the municipal architect Enrique Pecourt. Of the reconstruction project, Pecourt highlighted: “we proceed as stated, the characteristics of the old bell tower, of which only the foundations and about six metres of base remain (…) The same foundations and the solid wood base are preserved. On the octagonal area, as ring of national stone shall be built, with an average thickness of about 50 centimetres and an interior wall of about 30 cm of manufactured brick, filling the gap between the two using concrete masonry (…). A spiral staircase shall be built at the thickest part of this wall, which shall ascend up to the body of the bells. The interior area shall be divided by concreted vaults forming departments; a spiral staircase will be erected to run from the body of the bells until the terrace.
The decoration shall reproduce that present prior to the destruction.”
After having discussed the proposals for the reconstruction which had been proposed by the municipal architect, and having listened to all the notes and ingenious proposals of carpenter-artisan Vicente Piqueres, the reconstruction commenced and concluded three years later, in 1945. Of the reconstruction it is worth highlighting its aesthetic loyalty and the 10-metre increase in height compared to the original building, which intended to become the tallest and svelte building in the Region of Valencia, including the Miguelete.