Table of Contents
History of the Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba
It would be in the 8th century when the Arabs arrived in the Iberian Peninsula and between 780 and 785 under the hand of the Emir Abd al-Rahman I, who would build the Mosque of Cordoba over a Visigoth basilica in honour of St. Vincent the Martyr, also to demonstrate the power of the Emirate of Cordoba.
The remains of this basilica can still be seen today in the exhibition area of San Vicente in the present-day Mosque-Cathedral. It was the son of ABDERRAMAN I, HIXEM I, who built the first ALMINAR in 788.
During the Arab rule, the building would have three more extensions; by the emir ABDERRAMAN II; between 821-852; he extended the prayer hall to the south with 8 naves.
Alhaken II 961-965 extended the building by twelve more sections towards the south, towards the course of the Guadalquivir river.
The third and last extension in the hands of the Arabs was by ALMANZOR, chancellor of the Caliphate of Córdoba; in 987, he extended the building with 8 naves in an easterly direction.
After the reconquest of the former Caliphate by Fernando III in 1236, the mosque became a cathedral and the bishopric took possession of the building. In 1523, the construction of a Renaissance cathedral was begun in the centre of the building by order of Bishop Alonso Manrique, and was entrusted to Hernán Ruiz I.
In 1593, at the hands of Hernán Ruiz III, the minaret was restored and covered with walls to build the bell tower, giving it its current appearance.
The cathedral mosque is a building of 24,000 square metres, located in front of the Roman bridge that crosses the Guadalquivir river.
The mosques are made as replicas of the house of the prophet MAHOMA, in medina, today’s Saudi Arabia. And they consist of three parts; the ALMINAR or tower, from where the muezzin calls everyone to pray.
And in the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba; it costs only 2 euros to enter this tower with a height of 54 metres, which makes it the highest in the city.
The PATIO, used for Muslim ablutions, i.e. purifications with water.
There is even a cistern, or water deposit for the purification of the faithful, under what is now the courtyard of the orange trees. You can enter it free of charge, as this is where tickets are purchased.
The Prayer Hall
Begun in the 8th century, and subject to multiple extensions, the mosque-cathedral is a melting pot of styles, with the slight differences in the colours of the columns and arches suggesting that reused materials from the Roman Empire and Visigothic structures were often used.
Incredibly, the subtle differences in the colour of the arches between reddish and amber, when touched by sunlight, produce impressive plays of light.
In the time of Alhaken II, vaults of criss-crossing arches were created; but possibly the metaphor of luxury is found in the MIHRAB, which is an arch or niche, marking the direction of the MECA. Curiously, the MIHRAB is not oriented towards the MECA, and the reason for this is unknown.
The Mihrab has a beautifully ornamented horseshoe arch, based on mosaic and marble with atauriques (depictions of plant motifs, typical of Islamic art).
Chapels of the Mosque Cathedral
Due to the large number of chapels inside the building, we will only mention some of them and leave a link so that the reader can appreciate them here. Chapel of the conversion of Saint Paul, Chapel of Saint Stephen and Saint Bartholomew, Chapel of the Nativity of Our Lady.
Tickets and opening times
Tickets range from 2 euros for visits to the bell tower only to 18 euros for night visits to see the whole building. There is also a timetable for visits and masses available on the Mosque Cathedral website here. You can even buy tickets online.
UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Declared so in 1984, as an outstanding example of a stage of humanity.
Property of Outstanding Universal Value by UNESCO.
In 2014 UNESCO ratified the denomination of “PATRIMONIO DE LA HUMANIDAD” and added the mention of “Bien de Valor Universal Excepcional”; indicating that the different religions are the ones that have preserved the monument.
How to get to the monument
The following link shows the address and how to get there by car or bus.