Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

Córdoba, Spain

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.



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The Great Mosque of Cordoba is an other example the form never follows function at all times. The form was used as Mosque and as Catholic church at different times in the life of the structure, just like Haggia Sophia of Turkey. Ornament essentially defines the character of a form to define the function.


Founded: 784 AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Emrah Aktepe (11 months ago)
Amazing experience! Breathtaking! Definitely worth a visit. Religion, History, Art, and more. Glad to be able to come and see this monumental structure. Entrance was simple, we got help from the staff and it was 33 euros for 5 of us with 7 and 10 yo entering for free.
Michael Barton (2 years ago)
This is one of the more beautiful and interesting buildings in Spain. The textures and decorations that blend the Muslim and Christian places of worship are gorgeous. Red and white double arches will follow you everywhere inside. In the rear as you enter you'll find lots of exhibit, treasures on display, and side rooms. The main pews are in the center and surrounded by fine details you'd expect in a world class church. It's a must visit, buy a ticket in advance.
Imran Khan (2 years ago)
Must visit while in Cordoba! The Mosque-Cathedral is welcoming for all. The blend of multiple types of religious and historical architecture is a marvel. I appreciated every moment of this visit. I wanted to pray while Inside but didn’t feel entirely comfortable doing so while people walked around freely. For Christians however there are pews set up and services that take place daily. This did not deter me from having peaceful and silent moments throughout my visit. We were concerned about dress code as it is hot in cordoba but if you dress modestly then it will be fine. We bought tickets online for 11 euros per person but the time slot may be a suggestion and not set in stone. We arrived early for our 12pm time slot. We walked in at 11am by having our QR codes scanned by security without any issue. Beware of people hanging out by the entrance that want to read your palm. If you have your palm read then separation of you and your money is in your future. Tons of shops all around the grand structure as well as many good local food options.
mohammed munir din (2 years ago)
A beautiful place to visit and a must see if you visit Cordoba. The Mosque/Cathedral is a very unique place, which has lots of history behind it. If you go for the first time get the audio guide its really good and explains all the history behind it over the centuries. You can easily spend a full day in Córdoba. Make sure you visit the Roman Bridge too, it's literally just outside round the side. Overall Córdoba was amazing lots nice places around to take nice photos and plenty of souvenir shops and places to eat. X
Rebecca Wartin (2 years ago)
A very interesting place to visit while in Cordoba, Spain. The interior of this cathedral/mosque really shows the unique mixture of Islamic and Catholic, which definitely speaks about the story that happened in this place. The iconic red and white arcs that you can find everywhere in this building are very eye-pleasing, and photogenic too! In the centre of the building there is also a very beautiful altar and congregation area. You can't miss this place when travelling to Spain. The garden before you enter this building is undeniably beautiful, we came here during winter (December), and the trees were full of vibrant oranges, really can't stop staring at them. There is also a small "town" where you can find some souvenirs and restaurants to eat. Overall, a very unique and beautiful place to come and see!
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