Crusader bell towers

B.Bagatti-Reconstruction of the bell towers

The two bell towers, mentioned for the first time in the Travels of Sir John Mandeville which took place between 1322 and 1357, were built during the Crusader period. They were situated at the extremities of the narthex, where today are found the entrances to the Armenian monastery and the chapel of the Franciscan convent of St. Helena.

Apart from their role as bell towers, they also served as guard towers overlooking the surrounding area. The period in which the two structures were built is confirmed by the remaining intact areas on the lower levels, which are characterized by Crusader architectural elements such as pointed arches.

The pilgrim Bernardino di Nali (15th century) described them in his memoirs as very elegant structures. The bells would no longer have been in place at this point since, as mentioned by Father Felix Faber (1480-1483), the Saracens did not allow Christians to have bells. The bell towers that can be seen today are later constructions forming parts of the Greek and Armenian Orthodox monasteries.

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