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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Founded: 784 AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Catherine Casallas (4 months ago)
Built in 1232. Incredible how men could maintain this type of building through the centuries. We had the chance to go to mass, and after mass we enjoyed a free visit of the mosque-cathedral. Amazing to be part of it :)
ELMI IKHWAN (4 months ago)
Great place to learn something from history. The architecture is magnificent and the ambience is so cool. The atmosphere is relaxing and calm. It is worth to drop here for a visit. The ticket price is equal to the experience you can get here..
Wei C Sigala (5 months ago)
This place is beautiful and very big. Once inside you can wander the whole mosque-cathedral and there is always something to wonder at and their intricate, detailed work is very striking. The line was insane on a Saturday morning, it’s better if you pay with a credit card at the self-serve kiosks to the side of the ticket booths. The price is 10 euro per person. There are a lot of tourists but if you walk away from the main entrance you can find more space and less tourist and a perfect place to contemplate the grandiosity of this architectural gem.
James Powell (5 months ago)
I've seen so many beautiful, breathtaking things in my lifetime as someone privileged enough to travel the world many times over; as a location I would put this sacred site in the top-five most amazing places I have ever been. Glad that I went out of season somewhat, thus visiting when less overrun by the ever-swelling tourist hordes. Regardless, it's one of the few places on our amazing planet I'd unequivocally consider a must-see.
Ham Solo (7 months ago)
Pretty damn cool. The ticketing system could use some work... it's a bit here and then go over there... not well indicated, but follow some people until you all figure out. Automated ticket machines only take cash/coins. I payed 10 Euros for entry. No lineup to get in, crowds not too bad inside. It was Sunday I should mention. The place is quite beautiful inside. It would be good to have some context, an audio-guide or a follow a tour as there is not much in the form of explanations throughout the building. I spent 1hr here and I was good with that. Wheelchair accessible.
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