The Spanish Language Blog

In the middle of the city of Cordoba in Spain, among all the other monuments of Cordoba, stands a veritable mosque-cathedral called: "Mezquita-catedral". Today, this is also considered the tourist sight of Córdoba and one of the most visited tourist sights in Spain. It has as rich a history as the city itself and with a total area of more than 23,000m2, it is the third largest mosque in the world. In addition to Cordoba's historic center, then, the Mezquita is included in UNESCO's Cultural World Heritage List for good reason. Gilded bronze doors, mosaics, symmetry and wooden decoration characterize this special place. Diving into this fascinating history is therefore extremely noteworthy.

  • The cathedral in Cordoba is located in the center of the city and has a Renaissance architectural style.
  • Influences of the Moors and Christians are still visible.
  • The columns in the prayer hall shape the space and create a timeless symmetry.

Construction of the mosque began around the year 786 AD. In total, it took more than two centuries to finish and was therefore built over the centuries by several architects: Hernán Ruiz I, II and III, Diego de Praves and Juan de Ochoa. The mosque was built on the spot where an ancient basilica previously stood and is located right in the center. The style in which it was built can be seen as Renaissance. In its first years, the Mezquita, which is Spanish for mosque also served as a mosque. At the beginning of its foundation, it was the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world after Mecca. Over the years, the mosque went through quite a few renovations. For example, it received a new minaret (tower to call the faithful to prayer).

After the Spanish conquest ("Reconquista") of the Christians from the Moors, the Mezquita served as a cathedral in the year 1236. However, renovations were only done much later in the year 1523 after permission from Emperor Charles V. Space was made in the middle of the immense hall for a Baroque cathedral in the shape of a large cross. As a result, as many as around 400 pillars had to give way for the arrival of the cathedral. In addition, several chapels were added to the sides of the prayer hall. Upon seeing the rebuilding and the change in construction, the emperor regretted it and said to the architect, "Something was built that is unique in the world, but you destroyed it by (re)building something that could have been anywhere.

Today it serves as a Roman Catholic church, but still reflects the influences of the Moors and the Christians. Despite the renovation that did not go to the Emperor's liking, it does send an important image and message to humanity: an interweaving of cultural and artistic styles that blend in harmony. As a result, it is considered one of the most impressive Spanish cathedrals in Spain.

Before entering the cathedral, you first enter a beautiful courtyard called "Patio de los Naranjos. The name derives from the many orange trees neatly lined up next to each other. When you then walk into the mosque you first enter the prayer hall; a hall with as many as 800 pillars neatly placed symmetrically next to each other. These pillars are each connected by white and red colored columns that shape the space. Surrounding this immense open space are several chapels. Between the chapels is an angular dome, which is also better known as 'Mihrab.' The 'Mihrab' is a prayer niche in the wall that indicates the direction of prayer. At the exit, you walk through an immense bronze door and close this history again. However, not forever, for the memory of this visit remains....

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