Mezquita The Great Mosque of Cordoba

Mezquita Cathedral Mosque in Cordoba

The Mesquita in Cordoba is an architectural monument built in one of the most beautiful cities of Andalusia.

The complex includes the Córdoba Mosque, the remains of the temple of the Visigoths, and an inner courtyard. There is now a functioning Cathedral, the largest in the world.

Mezquita is a real pride of Spain, which is protected by UNESCO. Each year tens of thousands of tourists come to admire the 856 columns of marble, onyx and granite.

If you are in these parts – find time to visit the temple, and useful tips to prepare.

History of the Mosque

Mesquita was erected in 785. The uniqueness lies in the fact that for 8 centuries, Muslims and Christians prayed here, practically in the same building.

These places have been sacred in all times:

  • During antiquity, the gods of the Pantheon were worshipped here;
  • Later, the Visigoths, who conquered Rome, built a church in Mesquite;
  • When the region came under Arab rule, Emir Abd-ar-Rahman I bought the site and erected a Muslim religious edifice on the site of the basilica.

Subsequent rulers of the Arab world also contributed much to the decoration of Mesquita. But in the 13th century the Reconquista took place, as a result of which the Umayyad Mosque was taken over by the Christians.

It has since become the main cathedral of Cordoba, used for worship and beautifying the city.

Cordoba Cathedral - photo

Where is it

Descubre la Mezquita Catedral de Córdoba is located in the historic center of Cordoba, on Cardenal Herrero Street.

The Guadalquivir River flows from the south façade of the cathedral.

Nearby are the Alcazar fortress, the Roman bridge and other iconic landmarks.

Architecture and sights

The main feature of the Catholic temple is the unusual architecture.

Castilian kings, who conquered the land from the Arabs, understood the value and did not begin to destroy the decoration of the city.

But in the 16th century, Bishop Alonso Manrique initiated the reconstruction of the church. The restoration, whose plan was worked on by famous architects, resulted in an interesting combination of two styles – Renaissance and Moorish.

Next to the mihrab (so called niche in Muslim mosques) you will see the image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus.

There are also elements made in the late Gothic traditions.

Mosque architecture - photo

Inside the cathedral

The religious monument covers a huge area: it stretches 128 m from east to west and 175 m from north to south.

The scale of the construction strikes the imagination, but even more interesting you will see inside.

The column complex deserves special attention.

Some of the columns, made of expensive materials, were sent by the Byzantine emperor Leo in the VIII century.

Mihrab

Mirhab is one of the most interesting objects of the Muslim mosque.

It is beautifully decorated with patterns of multicolored glass and, unlike other mosques, does not look to the east (towards Mecca), but to the south.

It is said that the mihrab was deliberately turned towards the river because Abd-ar-Rahman, who came from his native Damascus, landed there.

Mezquita Mihrab - photo

Cordoba Cathedral

Built in the 16th century, the cathedral sits in the very center of the mosque. You certainly don’t see anything like it anywhere else.

Pay special attention to the mahogany choir made by the artist Pedro Duque Cornejo.

Their main motifs are scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, as well as the New and Old Testaments.

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The elaborately carved wooden seats with the faces of the saints are also good.

Retablo

On the right side of the cathedral entrance you will see Christian chapels decorated with retablos. This is the term for an altarpiece in Spain.

The main retablo of the Cathedral of Cordoba was made in 1618 from valuable Cabra marble.

The images originally depicted the saints of Cordoba. But, as the temple was reconstructed, they were replaced by works by Antonio Palomino, the painter who painted a large canvas with the scene of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Retablo of Cordoba Cathedral - photo

Chapels

There are several small chapels on the grounds of the Mesquita Temple:

  1. The first chapel built in the mosque by Catholics was the Villavisiosa.
  2. Next to this chapel you will see the Royal Chapel. The monarchs Alfonso XI of Castile and Ferdinand IV used to be buried there, but over time the remains of the kings were moved to the church of San Isidro. The Royal Chapel is now closed to visitors, so you can only appreciate its exterior from the outside.

Treasury and exhibits

It is impossible to overlook the Mesquita treasury, where items used in religious rites and during church celebrations are collected.

Here you can admire stunningly beautiful cups, bowls, crosses made of gold and silver and decorated with precious stones.

A large part of the collection is made up of personal items that once belonged to bishops.

The pride of the treasury is the monstrance. The sacred vessel, made in 1514 by the German craftsman Enrique de Arfe, has been used for several centuries in church services.

Once a year, on the Feast of the Body of Christ, the two-meter high work of art is taken out in the city processions.

Vault of the Cathedral - photo

The Orange Court

One of the most pleasant places in the complex is the Orange Court. There are palm trees and trees with juicy citrus fruits, and in sunny weather it is very beautiful here.

It is said that Europe owes its orange trees to the Arabs.

Inside of the Mosque of Cordoba - photo

The courtyard and the tower of the Mesquite

While the line moves to the cathedral’s ticket office, take a walk around the courtyard.

It used to be decorated with slender palm trees brought to Cordoba by the order of Abd-ar-Rahman I.

It is said that under one of the palm trees the ruler liked to rest, composing poems and grieving over the fate of the Umayyad family in his native Syria.

Ordinary believers here purified themselves from their sins in five ablution fountains.

Now guests of the temple, as in many places of worship, throw coins into the fountain.

A tower was built on the wall surrounding the courtyard. During Arab rule it served as a minaret.

On the tower is a sculpture of the Archangel Raphael, the patron of the city, and beneath it is the “Door of Forgiveness.”

This archway acts as the main entrance to the courtyard of the Mesquita.

How to buy a ticket to the Mesquita

  1. Admission to one of Spain’s main attractions costs 10 euros for adults.
  2. For a ticket for a child from 10 to 14 years old you have to pay 5 euros.
  3. If you want to go to the bell tower – pay 2 euros.

To make the tour more interesting – take an audio guide in Russian for 4 euros.

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Tickets can be purchased at the Cathedral ticket office. But because of the great influx of people who want to stand in line for hours.

To avoid this problem, pay in advance online at the official site: https://mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es/.

We have an even more interesting option: use a guided tour, which includes a ticket to the Mesquite. To do that, go to the Link ⇒ , or click on the widget below. The ticket option is on the far right ⇓⇓⇓⇓

How to visit for free

Eligible for free admission to Mesquite are:

  • people who were born or permanently reside in Cordoba;
  • children under the age of 10;
  • holders of the local Andalucia Junta 65 card;
  • people with disabilities and their companions.

Another option is to attend the morning service, which takes place from 08-30 to 10-00. But keep in mind that you have to enter before 08-20, then the gates are closed.

You might also find it helpful to

Córdoba Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist Bus with 360-degree panoramic views of Cordoba’s main attractions with 2 bus routes and 27 stops around Cordoba and two free walking tours.

Hours of Operation

The cathedral is available to visit during the following hours:

  • November-February from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m;
  • in other months – from 10-00 to 19-00.

Tours to the bell tower are from 09-30 to 17-30 every half hour.

Since the schedule may change slightly, check the information on the website before you visit.

Also keep in mind that no one is allowed in the temple wearing open clothes or headgear.

How to get to the Mesquita in Cordoba

Finding the mosque is not difficult: it is located in the heart of the city. To get to Mesquita, take city buses number 3 or 12. Get off at the Puerta del Puente stop.

If you are traveling in your own or rented car, take the freeway to the mosque via Avenida de la República Argentina from the train station.

Location of Mesquita on the map

Mesquita is without exaggeration called one of the most grandiose structures in Spain.

From the outside, the complex looks rather ascetic: only the gates, decorated with elegant Arabic script, speak of luxury. But inside, a true marvel awaits, so take your time to explore this masterpiece.

Here, more than anywhere else, you understand the meaning of the German philosopher Friedrich Schelling’s statement:

“Architecture is music frozen in space.”

The Mezquita Mosque in Cordoba

The Mezquita From Cordoba, Spain

The Mezquita, Cordoba’s cathedral and former mosque, is an absolutely incredible, grandiose structure! Just think about it:

  • The world’s largest mosque.
  • The world’s largest temple.
  • One of Spain’s 12 wonders.
  • Spain’s most visited monument
  • The area of the complex – 25,000 square meters
  • 856 columns of marble, granite, jasper and onyx

Mosque / Cathedral of Cordoba Mezquita (Mezquita Cordoba) - description, photos, information, opening hours, entrance fees - SelfGuide.com travel guide - what to see, the most important sights of Spain, Agdalusia Cordoba grand monument the most visited landmark the largest mosque in the world the largest temple in Spain

Visit the Cordoba Mosque Mesquita:

  • Admission to the mosque is 8 €, children 10 – 14 – €, under 10 years old are free.
  • Dress code : no open clothing allowed!
  • Opening hours:
    • November – February: Mon – Sat 10 – 18, Sundays and religious holidays. 8:30 – 11:30 и 15:00 – 18:00
    • March – October: Mon – Sat 10 – 19, Sundays and religious holidays. 8:30 – 11:30 и 15:00 – 19:00
    • Ticket sales close 30 minutes before closing time.
    • Guided tour of the Mesquita, the Jewish Quarter and the Alcázar – 37 € (including guide and entrance fees).
    • Personal guided tour of the mosque – 147€

    The Mezquita Mosque in Cordoba

    The Mezquita is unquestionably the main attraction of Cordoba and the whole of Andalusia. Each year its 1.5 million visitors come to admire this incredible blend of East and West.

    Back in Roman times there was a Roman temple on the site of the Mesquita. During the Visigothic period it was replaced by the Basilica of St. Vincent. In 785, when the Emir Abd al-Rahman I bought the basilica from the Christian population of Cordoba for a large sum of money, after which he demolished the temple and began building a mosque in its place – the Mesquita. Because of the growing population in Cordoba, the mosque was expanded several times by adding new parts.

    History of the Mesquita Mosque in Cordoba

    The first enlargement was made under the emir Abd al-Rahman I in 833-852. Seven cross aisles were added. Under ‘Abd al-Rahman II, seven cross aisles were added to the mosque. This ruler was fond of music and literature, practiced astronomy, and studied ancient books on philosophy. During his reign, the famous singer Ziriab, one of the co-founders of the world famous Andalusian school of music, came to Cordoba from Baghdad.

    Under the caliph of Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman III, a new minaret was built at Mesquite in 961-966. Arab historians consider this minaret to be the prototype of the famous Giralda tower in Seville. By then one of the most beautiful parts of the mosque was the sumptuously decorated mihrab, a special niche in the wall, usually in the direction of Mecca, where the imam prayed. The Caliph specially sent masters from Byzantium to finish the mihrab.

    Among other treasures of Mesquita of that time was the throne of Hakem II made of precious wood (the hardest wood in the world – boxwood, sandalwood and ebony), on which six best craftsmen with assistants worked for seven years, as well as the precious Koran, which was so heavy that only two people could lift it.

    At the height of the Caliphate of Al-Andalus under Al-Mansur, in just a few months, the mosque of Mesquita was doubled in size. The resulting building was 180 meters by 130 meters, with walls around the complex creating a rectangle 200 meters long and 144 meters wide. The height of the complex varied depending on the terrain, varying between 8 and 20 meters. The walls are the highest where the slope to the Guadalquivir starts. A colonnade used to run along the walls to protect pedestrians from rain and sun. The resulting building was the second largest in the world, second only to the Kaaba Mosque.

    Reconquista of Cordoba

    After King Ferdinand III of Castile recaptured Cordoba from the Arabs in 1236, Muslims began to flee en masse back to North Africa. The Great Mosque of Cordoba turned into the Cathedral of Cordoba, albeit with some alterations: 19 doors leading to the courtyard were closed, inside the temple along the walls the wealthy families of Cordoba made themselves a number of chapels, and the minaret of the mosque turned into a bell tower.

    Most of all, the Mesquita was modified in 1523: on the initiative of Archbishop Alonso Maurica it was decided to build a Christian cathedral inside the mosque. This construction was not completed until about a century later. The people of Cordoba were against the idea. Passions flared up over the construction of the church. After much debate, the archbishop of Cordoba appealed to Emperor Charles V, who agreed to the temple, though he subsequently regretted it. He visited Cordoba in 1526 and, upon seeing Mesquita, confessed that he would never have consented to the building of a cathedral in the mosque had he seen it before:

    “You have built what can be built anywhere, and destroyed what was the only thing in the world.”

    Thus a Gothic Christian cathedral was added to the Moorish appearance of Mesquite, to which Baroque elements were then added as well. The walls of the added church were higher than the roof of the mosque, although the architect R. Ruiz tried to use the existing structures and, if possible, preserve the former appearance of the building.

    The architecture of the Mesquita Mosque in Cordoba:

    The Mesquita Mosque of Cordoba consists of two main parts:

    • The Orange Court (Patio de los Naranjos), accessed by the Puerta del Perdon (Gate of Forgiveness) near the minaret
    • The Haram (prayer hall)

    The Puerta de las Palmas (Palm Gate) serves as the entrance to Cordoba’s cathedral mosque. From them the red and white arches, typical of Moorish architecture, extend into the interior of the building. They are supported by 856 columns made of marble, granite, jasper and onyx. This is only a fraction of the columns that survive today; there were originally 1,293!

    On the site of the Mesquita mosque in Roman times there was a temple of Janus, that’s why there were Roman columns. The 114 columns were sent by Emperor Leo from Byzantium in the 8th century. The columns were made of different materials and had different heights, so some had to be sunk into the floor, and for others, on the contrary, to make bases. But the dissimilarity of the columns is completely unnoticeable in the general rhythmic row of arcades.

    The Russian traveler V.P. Botkin described Mesquita this way:

    “Suddenly you enter a forest of marble columns, your eyes are scattered in their innumerable rows, lost in a ghostly distance; rare small windows barely let in light, so that the semi-dusk reigning here further increases the singularity of the impression.”

    The height of the columns is a little more than three meters, but due to the intricate system of horseshoe-shaped two-tiered arches of striped arches, it gives the impression that they are higher. The long corridors of columns and the endless repetition of the arches, spreading in all directions, create a feeling of boundless space, as if absorbing a person. Many researchers have compared the interior of the Kordov mosque with a palm forest: Emir Abd al-Rahman I loved the tree and even dedicated a poem to the palm.

    Mihrab

    The niche in the wall of a mosque to which Muslims turn during prayer is called a mihrab. It usually faces toward Mecca. That is, the mihrab of Mesquita should have been facing east, but in reality it is on the south side. One version says that it is facing the river, where Emir Abd al-Rahman landed when he came from his native Damascus. Now it is more inclined to believe that in general the orientation of the mosque coincided with the direction of the main street of the ancient Roman colony of Patricia (near present-day Cordoba).

    Another peculiarity of the mihrab of Mesquita is its location far from the center, which is contrary to tradition. The reason for this was that under the emir Al-Mansur the mosque had to be extended only from the east, since the river flowed on the south side and the caliph’s palace was on the west side.

    The Mihrab boasts an incredibly elegant decor in the Muslim tradition. No photograph fully captures the beauty of the over tons of colored glass and enamel that make up the decoration of the Mihrab of Cordoba’s cathedral mosque.

    Cordoba Cathedral

    The cathedral at the center of the mosque was built in the 16th century. It is a unique phenomenon: a Christian church right in the middle of a Muslim temple!

    In the cathedral, take note of the 18th century choirs. They were made by Pedro Duque Cornejo of Antilles mahogany. The main motif of the choirs are figures from the Old and New Testament, as well as scenes from the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are 105 images of saints in the bottom row.

    The 18th-century choir seats, carved from Antilles mahogany, are the work of Pedro Duque Cornejo. They depict an astonishing variety of shapes and figures on motifs from the Old and New Testament, as well as scenes from the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The bottom row contains 105 images of saints.

    Retablo

    In Spain the term “retablo” (retablo) is used to describe an altarpiece. The main retablo of the Córdoba Mosque was made of Cabra marble in 1618 by the Jesuit Alonso Matías. The original paintings of the retablature in the church, which depicted the saints of Cordoba, were later replaced by works by Palomino, the author of a huge painting of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which gave its name to the cathedral mosque in the 16th century.

    Chapels

    Opposite the mihrab of the mosque is the Chapel of Villaviciosa (Capilla de Villaviciosa). It was the first chapel created by Christians in the mosque.

    The Chapel of Villaviciosa is adjacent to the Royal Chapel where Kings Ferdinand IV and Alfonso XI of Castile were buried. The remains of both kings were later moved to the cathedral church of San Hipólito. The royal chapel is closed to the public. You can, however, appreciate the view of the chapel from the outside.

    Due to its long history and the changing cultural situation in Cordoba, the architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba includes styles from several eras, from Byzantine mosaics (in the southern part) and Moorish buildings to the western influences of the 16th and 17th centuries.

    the cathedral’s treasury and monstrance

    Do not miss the treasury of the Mesquita . The jewel in the collection is the enormous monstrance, which dates from 1514. This is the sacred vessel which holds the Body and Blood of Christ for the Communion.

    The monstrance at Córdoba was made of gold and silver by the German craftsman Enrique de Arfe. Every year, on the Corpus Christi, 60 days after Easter, this two-meter high work of art is carried out in processions through the city. The monstrance stands in the Chapel of St. Therese.

    Mezquita Plan

    Plan of the Cathedral Mosque of Cordoba The Mosque / Cathedral of Cordoba Mezquita (Mezquita Cordoba)

    Plan of the Cathedral Mosque of Cordoba

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