Kõpu Lighthouse s one of the best known symbols and tourist sights on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531.
The most important East–West shipping lane in the Baltic Sea passed the Hiiu sandbank. Already before the year 1490 the Hanseatic merchants were seeking permission to mark this peninsula with an outstanding landmark. On 20 April 1500 Bishop Johannes III Orgas (John Orgies) agreed to allow a massive stone pillar without any openings. To cover the building costs, Tallinn city council had to establish a special lighthouse tax until the sum was complete. After couple of interruptions and major costs a fire was first lit in the autumn of 1531; it was simply a bonfire on top of the tower.
In August 1649 a wooden staircase was built to the outside wall of the tower and an open iron fire grate affixed to the top. Originally it was planned to burn coal in the lighthouse, but due to high transport costs of coal, wood was used instead. Several reconstructions were made by Swedish and Russian Empires between 17th and 21th centuries. A new light system was bought at the 1900 Paris World Fair, for three million gold rubles. The new apparatus (including the light chamber) was made by Sautter, Marlé & Co. It used a kerosene lamp with a gas mantle.
Kõpu Lighthouse only lost its important role as a primary navigation aid in 1997, when a radar lighthouse took over its duties. Recreational craft and small fishing vessels continue to rely on Kõpu for navigating, as a backup to electronic navigation systems. The Estonian Maritime Administration still classifies it as an active aid to navigation. Its future is ensured by its status as a protected cultural memorial.
Due to its enduring popularity and memorable shape, it is often used as a symbol of Hiiumaa. A major tourist attraction, the tower has been open for tourists since 1999. Together with the nearby Ristna lighthouse, the Kõpu lighthouse was commemorated on a postage stamp in 2000.
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.