The Mezquita of Cordoba
Over more than seven centuries, large parts of Spain were under Moorish rule. While the Arab conquest ended in 1492 with the fall of Granada, the cultural and the architectural heritage is still largely present today, especially in the Southern Spanish province of Andalusia – a name stemming from the time of Al-Andalus.
During the 10th century CE, the city of Cordoba used to be the thriving capital of the Caliphate. With a population estimated at over 500,000, it has been widely recognised as the world’s largest city of its times. Today, one monument stands out as a reminder of the Moorish heydays in Spain: the Mezquita of Cordoba.
Built on the foundation of Roman and Visigothic places of reverence, the building of the Mezquita (Spanish for “mosque”) was initiated by Abd al-Rahman in 784 CE. Enlarged almost two centuries later, it reached completion shortly before the turn of the first millennium.
Covering an area of over 24,000 m², more than 1,000 columns once sustained its inner arcades. The double arches in red and white were an architectural novelty at that time – and gave the Mezquita its distinctive touch.
While the Reconquest of Cordoba in 1236 CE by Christian troops put an end to the Moorish reign, the marvel of the Mezquita was largely recognized and retained. While first only minor Christian features were added, a main alteration came in the 16th century CE: an entire Renaissance cathedral was put right in the heart of the building complex.
Today, the combination of different religions and their architectural styles in one place appears surprising and bizarre – but it constitutes also a key to the enchantment of the place.
Today, more than 1.2 million visitors frequent the Mezquita every year – and not view come back for a second visit to cherish the atmosphere during diverse daylight hours. The surrounding streets of the former Jewish quarter make Cordoba an ideal place to stay and spend a couple of very relaxed days.
Narrow Streets Leading to the Mezquita
The Mezquita of Cordoba, a World Heritage Site since 1984, offers the unique opportunity to immerse oneself into the Moorish époque almost 1,000 years back – a travel that might easily lead to the quest to see more of the historic legacy of Al-Andalus.