Mosque of Cordoba

Mezquita Catedral de Córdoba

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The Mosque of Cordoba, or Mosque-Cathedral as it is called today, is the most important monument in the city of Cordoba. Almost two million people visit it every year. It is recognized as an Asset of Cultural Interest in addition to being a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

This Mosque has become the symbol of the city of Cordoba. The history of the city has gone hand in hand with its Mosque, now a Cathedral, since the time when its construction began back in the 8th century.

Many tourists come to Cordoba to get to know it, in the last year there were almost two million and it is expected that this figure will increase as the monument becomes more and more known in the world.

Mosque Characteristics

It is a building that does not leave anyone who visits it indifferent. Its large size, is one of the largest in the world, the amount of decorative details that show the splendor of an era, the different transformations that leave their mark and the contrast between cultures that can be seen in every corner, are admired by Cordoba. and outsiders.

Its great difference with any other mosque in the world is the Cathedral that houses inside. A construction that generated controversy from the day it was completed. Contrary to what one might think, it is now a unique work unique in the world and admired by all.

Parts of the Mosque of Cordoba

On this page I am going to show you what are the most important characteristics of this monument and the different areas or parts of the Cordoba Mosque. As it is such an extensive monument, you can visit it by areas and better understand its history by following each one. If you want to know more about the monument, I invite you to continue reading.

The various parts of the Mosque of Cordoba are well differentiated. Outside are the Bell Tower and surrounded by a large wall is the Orange Tree courtyard. Already inside the building of the Mosque you can see the Forest of Columns, which is nothing else than the “infinite” set of columns and arches that give shape to the main monument.

Inside the Mosque you can see the Cathedral, composed of the area of the High Altar, the Cruise and the Choir. There are several chapels that have been built during the Christian period. The first to be built was the Villaviciosa Chapel, a construction integrated into the Muslim building. But the most important for its ornamental richness is the Sagrario Chapel.

Bell Tower

Bell Tower

The bell tower is one of the iconic images of Cordoba, stands out from the monument and is visible from a large part of the city. What we see now is a tower built on an Arab minaret from the time of Abderramán III. The history of this tower is very extensive, since it has received many modifications, some of them radical. You can visit this Tower at different times, if you decide to go up you will go to enjoy views of the city and the old spectacular.

Orange Tree Courtyard

The Orange Tree Courtyard is the first thing you will see when entering the walled enclosure. In its day it was the Court of Ablutions , where the Muslims performed the ritual of purification before entering the temple to pray. As a curiosity, the arches leading to the prayer area were open in the Muslim era. In the sixteenth century, and in Christian times, the arches are closed by order of Bishop Martín Fernández Angulo.

There are several important changes that this Patio de los Naranjos has suffered since it was designed in the 8th century. The most important are the two extensions, one in the time of Abderramán III and another under the mandate of Almanzor. As for the vegetation, we know that in the 13th century it was planted with palm trees. In the fifteenth century the first orange trees were planted and three centuries later olive trees and cypresses were added.

There are several sources in the Orange Tree Courtyard, which together with the water pipes and the vegetation, give it a fresh and pleasant atmosphere in summer. Also comment that the courtyard is surrounded by porticos with columns and arches, which are exposed several of the old wooden beams with which the monument was built.

Column forest in the Mosque

Column forest in the Mosque

One of the main features of the Mosque of Cordoba is its large size, as it is the third largest in the world. Being so large, it gives a very characteristic image, the “infinite” succession of columns and arches, which is colloquially called the Forest of Columns or Forest of Palm. Of being one of the iconic images of Córdoba.

But how many columns does the Mosque have?, specifically there are 1300 columns and 760 Arches, all in an area of 23,400 square meters. As a curiosity, in the Tower of the Calahorra there is a mock-up of the Mosque in the Muslim period. In it you can see how was that forest of Columns before it was built inside the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Cordoba

Cathedral of Cordoba

The fact that the Cathedral of Cordoba was built inside an Islamic Mosque, makes it a unique monument in the world. The construction of the Cathedral was a radical transformation in the building, contrasting the vertical forms typical of Christian Cathedrals, in a Muslim building of horizontal structure. The Cathedral is composed of a large nave of Gothic style, with ribbed vaults and three large pointed arches.
The most important parts of the Cathedral are the Altar Mayor, the Crucero and the Coro. The entire structure of the Cathedral began to be built in 1523 by order of Hernán Ruiz I. In the middle of the 18th century, with the works of the Choir, the Cathedral was completed as we know it now.
The fact of building a Cathedral inside a Mosque was a decision that created a great controversy in his day. Although he approved the construction in the beginning, Carlos V came to criticize the work saying “you have destroyed what was unique in the world, and you have put in its place what can be seen everywhere”. When you visit the Mosque-Cathedral, in addition to its grandeur, you can see several centuries of history in each corner of the monument.

Mihrab of the Mosque

Mihrab of the Mosque

The Mihrab of the Mosque of Cordoba, the place where prayer is addressed and which represents the presence of Alah in the Temple, is one of its great attractions. In other mosques it is composed of a small niche in the Qibla or wall oriented towards Mecca . On this occasion it is a small space of three by three meters, with a great ornamental quality.

It is located next to the Maqsura, the space reserved for the Caliph during public prayer. What most attracts the attention of the Mihrab in this Mosque is its exterior decoration, with a marble base, a large horseshoe arch and plant decorations along with inscriptions of the Koran.

The Mihrab of the Mosque of Cordoba is decorated with marble, ceramics, plasterwork and different types of paint. Perhaps this is the area of the monument that best represents the grandeur it had to have in its day in the Cordoba Caliphate.

Villaviciosa Chapel

Villaviciosa Chapel

The Chapel of Villaviciosa was the first Christian construction of importance that took place inside the Mosque, two centuries after the Islamic building was consecrated for Catholic worship in 1236. The chosen place was a skylight from the time of Alhakén II and it would be the Main Chapel until the construction a century later of the current Cathedral.

For the construction of this Chapel and its nave, Gothic style arches were used, with a characteristic wooden roof with gabled craftsmanship, very uncommon for the time, as well as neo-Gothic side windows. This is a Chapel open and very integrated with the appearance of the Mosque Muslim.

Sagrario Chapel

Sagrario Chapel

The Chapel or “Parroquia del Sagrario” owes its importance to the quantity and quality of paintings and murals that adorn it. The first thing that catches your attention when entering this chapel is the painting of the Holy Supper that presides over the space. The columns, arches and vaults are decorated with landscape motifs, images of angels, symbols of the Passion and the representation of the Holy Martyrs of Cordoba.