Updated: Oct 14, 2021
It is impossible not to be mesmerized by the beauty of Cordoba’s mosque. Once you step into the mosque, its serenity and glory pierces through your heart at the same time. The soothing atmosphere at the mosque takes you back to the time when the lands of Al Andalus were flourishing and you can feel the spirit of the Muslim era in Southern Spain.
Mezquita (Spanish for mosque) is a cathedral mosque located in the Spanish town of Cordoba (Andalusia), and is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Andalusians are very proud of this attraction and it also happens to be one of the 12 wonders of Spain. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Cordoba to see the Mezquita Mosque with their own eyes, which has a history spanning 11 centuries.
The history of the Mezquita in Cordoba:
The place where the cathedral stands can be called sacred. The Mezquita was built on the site of the Basilica of St. Vincent of Zaragoza, which was built on the ruins of a Roman temple.
‘‘...they “reformatted” the mosque into a Catholic church.’’
As a result of the Arabian conquest of Spanish lands in the 8th century, Cordoba became the capital of the Emirate and a cultural, scientific and religious center.
As the number of Muslims grew, the need to construct a mosque also increased. AbdarRahman l bought the Christian half of the basilica, demolished it and built a grandiose structure instead of sharing the existing basilica. Abdar-Rahman’s successors made their own architectural contributions which led us to the existing image of the modern Mezquita mosque in Spain.
In the 13th century, new owners appeared in Cordoba – the Castilian kings came to power and they did not need an Islamic mosque at all.
The Catholic cathedral was not enough for the Castilian kings so they “reformatted” the mosque into a Catholic church. Thus, the Mezquita became a cathedral and since the early 2000’s, there has been a campaign to allow Muslims to pray in the Mezquita. So far, this idea has not received approval by the Spanish Catholic Church or the Vatican.
‘‘It is impossible not to be mesmerized by the beauty of Cordoba’s mosque.’’
Mezquita: Architectural features of the cathedral
From the moment the Castilian kings came to these lands, they tried to remake the Mezquita. The rulers understood the uniqueness of the structure, so they did not want to destroy this beauty. However, in the 16th century, the initiator of the reforms was the local bishop Alonso Manrique. By that time, the shrine had already lost some of its exceptional architecture. The reconstruction work began in 1523 and architects like Hernan Ruiz the Elder, Juan de Ochoa and Diego de Praves were invited. Many scandals were associated with the alteration, since everything happened without the approval of the City Council and the permission of the King. The architecture of the building clearly shows the late Gothic traditions – retaining arches, large columns and partitions. The general impression can cause dissonance in addition to delight for a tourist. Here, next to the Mihrab, a traditional niche in the wall, typical for Muslim mosques hangs the image of Mary with Jesus. What is sure to impress in the Mezquita is the 856-column arches decorated with granite, jasper, marble and onyx.
The Tower and Courtyard of the Mezquita:
The tower is dominated by the sculpture of the Archangel Raphael, the patron saint of Cordoba. Under the tower, there is an arch that serves as an entrance to the courtyard. The courtyard was originally used for ablutions and religious teachings. During the reconstruction, the palm trees that grew here were replaced with orange trees. Therefore, the courtyard of the Mezquita is called “orange”.
Opening hours for the Mezquita MosqueCathedral in Córdoba are long. Tickets are only sold onsite. Admission is free early mornings.
It doesn’t matter how beautifully I describe the Mezquita here, I strongly recommend you just grab your suitcase and fly to Cordoba.