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The Great Bell: a remnant of the Middle Ages that still resonates


The Great Bell was the belfry of the old Town Hall, and it is one of the few civil monuments from the Middle Ages that the city has kept.

The evocation of the ‘Great Bell' in Bordeaux necessarily refers to the whole monument of which it was part, but which is now destroyed. Raised in the 15th century on the remains of the ancient Porte Saint-Éloi, it has two 41-metre towers connected by a central building. Cast in 1775 by the founder Turmel, it weighs 7,800 kilograms and measures two metres tall, which explains its name.

Once used to announce important events such as the grape harvest or a fire, it was removed, along with its clocks, without hesitation by the King when he wanted to punish the city. Recently restored, the Grosse Cloche is noted for its gilded copper weathervane representing the English lion, often said to be the symbol of Guyenne, of which Bordeaux was the capital. What is more likely is that the symbolic animal was inherited from the Kings of England during the English domination.

La Grosse Cloche
45 rue Saint-James
33000 Bordeaux

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