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.

Architecture

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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Olabode Olusesan Jegede said 2 years ago
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.


Details

Founded: 784 AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

John Lancaster (2 years ago)
A must see holy site for anyone visiting Andalucia. This was the most memorable experience we had of all the wonderful places we visited when touring this part of Spain. A mix of architectural styles and cultures with such a colourful history. A Christian site then a gradually expanding mosque until captured by Christian forces. The colours and precision of the mosque interior are stunning, set against the contrasting ornate Cathedral. Outside the main building are gardens to wander around and to pause to contemplate the beauty of the whole building.
Christine (2 years ago)
Amazing UNESCO heritage site! I took the tour here and was so glad to learn the history about how this Mosque-Cathedral was expanded and changed throughout the centuries. Beautiful architecture and relics - look out for the little inscriptions on some pillars (the stone worker that carved the pillars engraved their names on them)!
Amie Bentley (2 years ago)
Beautiful place to visit and well worth the entry fees. The exterior which is free to walk around is lovely and you can see some of the old columns. Once inside you witness some gorgeous architecture and see the different styles from both religions. Lovely place to visit.
Elizabeth Allen (2 years ago)
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is an absolutely wonderful building, unique in its combination of both Islamic and European religious architecture. The atmosphere stirs deep emotions, and the light streaming through the high windows is magical. On our tour of Andalusia, my friend was looking forward to seeing the Alhambra Palace in Granada most of all, but as it turned out her favourite site was this one.
Saif Sulaiman (2 years ago)
This place is majestic, a representation of Moor history in Spain. The architecture is authentic in terms of it's Islamic influence. The interior had been converted to a Catholic church but is now a museum. Therefore, the extravagance of the furniture, decorations & many other items are influenced by the Catholic era after the Spanish Inquisition. Highly recommend for a visit.
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