The Great Mosque Of Cordoba: Former Islamic Mosque & Catholic Cathedral
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is a mosque turned cathedral in the city of Cordoba, Spain. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. According to history, it has its origins dating back to the year 785 when it served as a mosque and was known as the Mezquita or Great Mosque of Córdoba, which was locally referred to as Mezquita de Córdoba. In modern times, the Cordoba Mosque or the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, which happens to be its ecclesiastical name.
Cordoba Mosque In A Nutshell
Location: Cordoba, Spain
Alternate Names: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Mezquita-Cathedral de Córdoba.
Islamic Names: Mezquita, Great Mosque of Córdoba, Mezquita de Córdoba
UNESCO World Heritage Official Name: Historic Center Of Cordoba
Opened: 987 AD
Previous Denomination: Islam
Architectural type: Church, (former) Mosque
Year Of Origin (Of Mosque): 785
Year Of Conversion: 1236
What Is the Great Mosque of Cordoba or Mezquita de Cordoba?
Why Is the Great Mosque of Cordoba So Famous?
Built in a city that is a living expression of the existence of different cultures, forming a vibrant and colorful ambiance, Mezquita de Cordoba, or the Great Mosque of Córdoba, is a historical structure that highlights a unique architectural and cultural heritage and achievement. It is a unique architectural structure that holds traces of its Islamic heritage and architectural style in the west, playing an influential role in Western Islamic art. The blend in the culture has resulted in an architectural hybrid where elements of Islamic religious architecture of the east coexist with the Christian cultures of the west.
Where is Cordoba Mosque located?
Who Built the Great Mosque of Cordoba?
In 785, as per the orders of the Abd ar-Rahman I, the Great Mosque Of Cordoba was built, with later expansion works being carried out by his descendants and successors. But as part of the Reconquista, on Cordoba’s capture by the King Ferdinand III of Castile, the Mosque was converted into a Cathedral. It soon saw minor alterations till the late 15th century, followed by major alterations till the 18th century.
Read More About the Origin of Cordoba Mosque.
What To See at the Cordoba Mosque?
The Cordoba Mosque stands as an example of a blend in culture and architecture of the east and west. Its architectural design has Islamic art forms uniformly blended with Christian elements.
The architectural choices like the double arches, the horseshoe arch with a semi-circular arch atop it, designs with red brick and stone, are some of the key architectural elements that are world-famous.
The bell tower, Patio de los Naranjos, Mihrab, and the Prayer hall are some of the major highlights with amazing works of art and architecture. Patio de los Naranjos serves as an entrance to the mosque featuring a courtyard with flourishing trees and flourishing fountains. The 54m tall Belltower of Mezquita de Cordoba provides an astounding bird’s eye view of the city.
History of the Great Mosque of Cordoba
The mosque was built in 785 AD during the reign of Abd ar-Rahman I, who ruled over the region of Al-Andalus, with the capital being Cordoba. The mosque faced numerous expansion works till the late 10th century until King Ferdinand III of Castile captured Cordoba. This change in political situation was followed by the conversion of the mosque to a cathedral in 1236. Despite the change, there were only a few minor alterations until the 16th century. Later, in 1984 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which led to the onset of numerous renovation and preservation projects.
Brief Timeline of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
- 785: Year Of Origin Of Mosque. A Muslim chapel was built with a basilica layout. It was built on the orders of Abd ar-Rahman I when Córdoba was the capital of the Muslim-controlled region of Al-Andalus.
- 1146: First Dedication Of The Cathedral. King Alfonso VII celebrated Holy Mass in the mosque with the archbishop of Toledo, Don Raimundo.
- 1236: Cordoba Captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile. Cordoba was captured by the Christian forces of Castile during the Reconquista.
- 1236: Second Dedication as a Catholic Church. With Cordoba being captured by the Christian forces, the mosque was converted into a Catholic Church.
- 1882: Declaration as a Historic-Artistic National Monument. During the period of modern restorations to preserve the mosque and cathedral elements, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba was declared a National Monument.
- 1984: Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The status was extended to the entire historic center of Cordoba in 1994.
Find out more about the history of the Cordoba Mosque.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba Architecture & Design
Mezquita de Cordoba, or the Great Mosque of Cordoba, was a square-shaped construction during its origin, with a covered prayer hall and an outer courtyard. Its collection of over 500 columns from the Roman and Visigoth ruins, with two tiers of arches connecting them at the ceiling, was a distinguishable feature. The columns had a horseshoe-shaped design at the bottom and a semi-round structure at the top. Its unique design and special materials help in complementing the airy atmosphere created by the alternating arches of red and white and give an infinite forest-like feel in the massive prayer hall.
This special design gave a feel of infinite space thanks to its design of rows and rows of columns, which was a sharp contrast to the designs of medieval cathedrals. But the insertion of a cathedral nave during the sixteenth century, during the conversion, works from mosque to cathedral does break the feel of uniformity to the otherwise uniform work of architecture. Even with a surface area only second to that of the Holy Mosque in Mecca, the design of the structure steps out of the usual Islamic mosque tradition in several ways, most notably being the fact that it does not face the Holy Mecca.
Yet, the architecture and design of the Great Mosque of Cordoba possess features like the double arch, which is still considered to be an architectural marvel and is studied as a technical and aesthetic breakthrough, throwing light on the development of Islamic architecture in the period.
From the 19th century to the 21st century, numerous restoration projects were carried out, which uncovered from behind the former altar of the old Chapel, restored the mihrab's Islamic mosaics, and uncovered the original structure of the Mosque-Cathedral.
Learn more about the Cordoba Mosque's architecture and design.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba Legends
- It is said that the Abderraman I decided to build the mosque after having an angelic vision. As per the Legend of the Angel, while sleeping at al-Rusafa Palace, he saw an angel appear and ask him what he had done for Allah in return for the things he had received. Because of this, he decided to build the mosque for god.
- As per legends, it is said that the Saint Mary's Fountain has magical properties that help single women get married.
- According to the Legend of the Ox, it is said that the sculpture of the ox next to the pulpit of the Main Altar, was built in the memory of a white ox who held on to his life until he transported the last of the columns, thus playing a key role in building the mosque.
- Although there has been no evidence to clarify the rumor, it is believed that there’s a hidden underground passage that connects the Medina Azahara city with the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba Facts
- During the reign of King Charles V, he got the Capilla Mayor, a cathedral nave built into the Mosque, which is said to have been his regret later on as he considered the addition has just ruined something unique.
- A prayer hall or Mihrab of a mosque is supposed to face south-east, the direction of Mecca. But quite like like the Damascus Mosque, the mihrab of the Great Mosque of Cordoba faces south.
- The unique arches of the Mezquita de Cordoba are supported by 856 granite and marble pillars, which were transported from the Romans and Visigothic ruins.
Know Before You Visit The Great Mosque of Cordoba
A. The Great Mosque of Cordoba is a UNESCO World Heritage which was originally a mosque that was later converted into a cathedral, thus and holding historic importance and exhibiting both the cultural and architectural art forms.
A. After Cordoba was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile, The Great Mosque of Cordoba was converted into a cathedral in 1236.
A. It takes about two hours to drive from the Cordoba airport to the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
A. The Great Mosque of Cordoba holds a crucial historical significance as it is a standing example of presence of Islam in the west. Moreover, it stands as an example of beautiful blending of two religion, their culture, art and architecture. This makes this UNESCO World Heritage worth a visit.