Cathedral Mosque, Cordoba

One of the world's most impressive monuments, rich of history and culture.
As much as we wanted to, we couldn't spend the whole day in Cordoba at the Mercado Victoria eating & drinking, so the time came to visit the breathtaking Cathedral Mosque.

I had been to the Mezquita on my previous trip to Cordoba several years ago, but I always kept it in my memory as one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Its architecture and history and the feeling you get when you're wandering among its arches alone are worth the trip to Cordoba (which of course has many other beautiful monuments and places to visit- but we'll get to them later).

The history of the Mezquita is unique and a must know if you're interested in the history of Andalucia and Spain in general. It dates back to the 10th century when Córdoba was the largest, most prosperous cities of Europe, outshining Byzantium and Baghdad in science, culture and the arts. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 and includes different architecture styles in its different sections (Omeyan, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque). **

The entrance to the Mezquita is through the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange trees courtyard), the courtyard where Islamic ablutions took place, among the orange trees and fountains. In Islamic times, the courtyard was also used for public events such as administering justice or teaching, and the arches connecting the courtyard with the main body of the mosque used to be open. Beneath the ground where the orange trees are planted lies a large water cistern which ensured in Moslem times a constant supply of water for the ritual ablutions. The first mention of palm trees being planted here goes back to the 13th century, and there were orange trees in the 15th century, with olive trees and cypresses being added in the 18th. The three main entrance gates date back to Moorish construction. La Paloma door was reformed in gothic style in the 15th century.

The Mosque's construction started in 786 BC under the ruling of emir Abd ar-Rahman I and it was built over the Visigothic Saint Vincent Basilica, Cordoba's most important Christian temple since its foundation in the 6th century. It went through several extensions over the years until 1236, when Cordoba was reconquered and the Mosque consacrated as a Cathedral.

Bishop Alonso Manrique convinced Carlos V to give him permission to build inside the Mosque and ordered the construction of a Renaissance Cathedral in 1523, to be integrated entirely in the Muslim temple. The construction of the Cathedral spans nearly two centuries of changing architectural styles (the Latin cross,Gothic vaulting, Proto-Baroque vaults and a Renaissance cupola). The main altarpiece was scuplted in marble and finished in the 17th century, and the 18th century pulpits are in marble and mahogany. The impressive choir stalls were built in West Indian mahogany wood and mainly depict the the most important biblical scenes from the Old Testament and the Gospel.

The bell tower or Torre de Alminar is 93 meters high and was built on the site of the original minaret. It remained intact until it was damaged by a heavy storm before 1593, it was then repaired and modified (the upper floors were added to house the bells, foundations were strengthened). 

** Fonts:

Catedral de Córdoba
C/ Cardenal Herrero, 1 - 14003 Córdoba
Openings for touristic visits:
March to October: Monday to Saturday 10.00 - 19.00 / Sundays and catholic holidays 8.30 - 11.30 / 15.00 - 19.00.
November to February: Monday to Saturday 10.00 - 18.00 / Sundays and catholic holidays 8.30 - 11.30 / 15.00 - 18.00.
Entrance fee: 8 euro. From Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., it's possible to visit the Cathedral for free, but individually and in silence.
Evening visits: check schedule on website: http://www.catedraldecordoba.es/visitanocturna.asp - 18 euro entrance fee for night visits.

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