Cordoba is one of the oldest and most interesting cities in Andalusia. Architectural monuments surprise and delight. One of the most amazing and astonishing is the mosque in Cordoba. The Mesquita is one of Spain’s Twelve Wonders of the World and the largest cathedral in the world.
History of the erection and reconstruction of Mesquite
The place chosen for the erection of the building was considered sacred. Already in Roman times there was a temple here. It was later replaced by the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Vincentius. The history of Mesquita began in 785 with the purchase of land by Emir Abd al-Rahman I. The basilica was demolished and construction began on one of the amazing complexes that later came to be considered the largest in the world.
Cordoba was growing, its population skyrocketed, and the mosque had to be expanded by adding new parts. In its modern version it occupies about 25 thousand square meters. Rulers over the centuries have sought to add something of their own to its appearance. This resulted in a unique complex that has no analogues in the world.
A dramatic turn in the fate of the Mesquita Mosque in Spain took place in the 13th century. When the Castilian kings came to power, the number of Catholics in the city increased, and some Muslims withdrew from their usual place and left. The mosque became unnecessary, and the rulers acted on the example of their predecessors, refurbishing it to suit their needs. It became a Catholic cathedral.
The architecture and structure of Mesquite
The first impressive changes of the Mesquita in Córdoba were felt in the Middle Ages. The rulers who came to power were aware of its uniqueness, so they destroyed it, as they did the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Vikentius, they did not, but there were already projects to rebuild it. They began to be realized in 1523 at the instigation of the local bishop, Alonso Manrique. The distinguished masters – Hernan Ruiz the Elder, Juan de Ochoa and Diego de Praves – were invited. It was not without scandals.
The original plan for change was not submitted to the king and city officials for approval. This was considered arbitrariness, and a dispute arose between secular and ecclesiastical authorities, resulting in the excommunication of the head of the council. Then the king’s consent was obtained and the reconstruction began, turning a Muslim mosque into a Catholic cathedral. The skill of the architects helped to seamlessly combine the Moorish style with distinctive Renaissance elements.
The transept is made in the form of a cross, inherited from the late Gothic arched ceilings, numerous columns lined with marble, jasper, onyx, granite. There are a total of 856 of them. They are different in style and appearance, each mounted on its own foundation. Next to the mihrab is an image of the Mother of God with Jesus. Against the walls covered with carved verses from the Koran stands the majestic organ. It might have caused some dissonance if it did not look so organic, causing delight and admiration.
Luxury looks out from every corner of the cathedral. Even the choirs for the singers are not lined with simple material, but with mahogany with elaborate carvings depicting a particular era or the deeds of a prominent person. This work of art is more than 300 years old, but it has almost retained its original appearance. The exterior walls are made of light sandstone.
Courtyard and tower
The tower was finished in 966 during the reign of Caliph Abd al-Rahman III. The prototype was the Giralda in Seville. At Mesquite in Cordoba it served as a minaret. In the original version, it reached a height of 23 meters. Later, in the 10th century, it was rebuilt, giving it a square shape. The new tower consisted of two segments, where the narrower one rested on a wider base. For ascending and descending, two stairs were stacked, on the east and west sides. The height was increased to 47.5 meters. The last reconstruction, during which a sculpture of the Archangel Raphael, the patron saint of Cordoba, was installed, was carried out in the 19th century.
The patio was called “orange” because of the trees planted there. They partially replaced the palm trees which grew there during the reign of ‘Abd-ar-Rahman I. Later cypresses and olive trees were added to the orange trees. The place is very pleasant for walking and relaxing, especially after standing in line for a long time to see this attraction.
In the fountains used to perform ritual ablutions, and now tourists throw coins into the sparkling water to return here again.
The rich history of the cathedral has left many material treasures, some of which are on display in the halls for viewing. Among the especially valuable exhibits:
- cups, bowls, and crosses inlaid with precious stones;
- the personal effects of the bishops;
- household items;
- Reliefs from the facade of the mosque and pillars, dating back to the 6th-7th century;
- the sculpture “Saint Raphael” by Damian de Castro;
- a slab with inscriptions in Arabic script.
The jewel of the collection is the Keeper of the Gifts, created in 1514. The author of this work of art was the German master Enrique de Arfe. The relic is up to 2 meters high.
The monstrance is only taken out of the cathedral once a year, to be paraded through the streets of Cordoba 60 days after Easter. It is then returned to its place of storage, the Chapel of St. John the Baptist. Theresa.
Schedule and price of tickets to Mesquite
The cathedral is active, so during religious holidays it is closed to tourists for the duration of the service. This usually takes place between 11:00 and 3:00 p.m. The same break in access on Sunday. Also the operating time depends on the season. From November to February you can come for a tour from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Sundays, on that day the schedule is special. Starting in March, opening hours will increase by one hour.
Guests are asked to observe a certain style of dress. Shoulders, arms and legs should be completely covered as a sign of respect for the feelings of the faithful.
It is also not recommended to enter the cathedral mosque with large bags, take pictures during the service, smoking in the complex.
It is quite easy to get to the mosque. There is public transportation in the city, and buses number 3 or number 12, take you to the stop Puerta del Puente. You can call a cab, the drivers understand the name of the object in any language.
Mesquita on the map of Cordoba
The price of the ticket is better to clarify in advance. It is worth noting that children under the age of 10 are free, up to 14 you only need to pay half the cost of an adult ticket, which is 11 euros. A separate ticket for a tour of the bell tower is purchased for 2 euros. You can save money by scheduling a visit to the cathedral mosque from 08:30 to 09:30 on weekdays. It is free to enter the cathedral at this time.