Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

Toledo, Spain

The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz is a former mosque in Toledo. It is the only one of ten that once existed in the city that remains largely as it was in the Moorish period. Legend has it that a shaft of light guided the king to a figurine of the crucified Christ that had been hidden for centuries. He left his shield there with the inscription, 'This is the shield which the King Alfonso VI left in this chapel when he conquered Toledo, and the first mass was held here'.

In 1186, Alfonso VIII gave the building to the Knights of the Order of St John, who established it as the Chapel of the Holy Cross (Ermita de la Santa Cruz). It was at this time that the mosque was renamed and the apse was added.

Architecture

The edifice was then known as Mezquita Bab-al-Mardum, deriving its name from the city gate Bab al-Mardum.

Built in 999 in Toledo, this building is a rarity in that it is in much the same state as it was when it was originally built. The building is a small square structure. It measures roughly 8 m × 8 m. Four columns capped with Visigothic capitals divide the interior into nine compartments. Covering each of these bays is a vault that has a distinctive design that is unique unto itself. The central vault is higher than the other ones and acts as a cupola for the structure. Each vault employs the use of ribs to create the designs that make them unique. Each of them follows the basic ideas of Islamic design. The ribs typically do not cross in the center, an idea that is seen in many Muslim designs. Some of the designs are more rectilinear while others embrace the curved forms of the vault more prominently. Within each one is a piece of their culture and tradition of building. The columns and the capitals both had been taken from previous buildings and are therefore known as spolia.

The building is constructed of brick and small stones. These techniques are a reflection of both the local building tradition as well as the influence from the caliphate in Córdoba. The influence of the caliphate can be seen in the brickwork on the facade of the building which resembles those seen at the Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba. Originally the Eastern wall was a continuous stretch of brick and served as the qibla wall for the mosque. Also located along this side would have been a mihrab used for worship. The other three facades are articulated by three-bay arcades. All are similar, but individual in their decoration.

The Western wall which served as the main entrance is unique in how the arcade is articulated. This facade has a lobed arch, horseshoe arch, and a wider version of a horseshoe arch. Brickwork arches provide the decoration for the facade which are influenced by the architecture in Córdoba. In later years a Mudejar semi-circular apse was added. In the process of the addition the qibla wall and mihrab were lost. The use of the mudejar style provided a smooth transition from the original structure to the apse, as the addition uses the same style of decoration and materials as the original. The continuation of the arch motif is an important link between the two sections of the building.

 

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Details

Founded: 999 AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Bob Ashworth (2 years ago)
Bit surprised to find an effergy of Christ on the cross in what was a Mosque. The place is interesting but like much of Toledo it is overlaid with Catholic mythology and legend.
Igor Krestnikov (2 years ago)
Very nice garden to spend half an hour during sunny day.
Sameer Sheikh (2 years ago)
I liked this place. It has a very chilled vibe. Coffee is dirt cheap, had a Machiatto for €1.50, and it was actually good. They have free WiFi, but it's not very good free WiFi. It's a community space, at least that's the impression I got. While I was sitting here, they had a drawing class happening. The instructor was really interacting with her students. Clearly, she had a passion for drawing and teaching. They have events at night. It's a shame I didn't do more time in Toledo, or I'd have checked one out.
Bob Plunkett (2 years ago)
Eh. I’m guessing they opened it up because they needed more places for the tourist bracelet. If already paid 9 Euro for the bracelet you won’t mind that there’s nothing inside.
Paul Davies (2 years ago)
Nice place, great views from the garden across the city. Reasonable for the price, may be worth getting the tourist bracelet for all of the venues.
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