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Architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba: history and characteristics

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The architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba is a fusion of styles and techniques that reflect the influences of the different cultures that ruled the region.. It is considered one of the most important historic monuments of Andalusia, an exceptional example of the Islamic and Christian architecture coexisting within the same building. As well as being one of the greatest legacies of Islam in Spain.

The evolution of the architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba goes from the 8th century to the 10th century, to become a cathedral after the Christian reconquest of the city in 1236. We will now take a closer look at the history of the Mosque and its architecture, as well as its most important features.

Enlargements and architectural history of the Mosque of Cordoba

architecture mosque cathedral cordoba
Exterior architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba

As we have mentioned, during the Muslim period in Spain and over the centuries many changes have been made to the Mosque of Córdoba, related to the changes of power of the rulers, and later due to enlargement and renovation works.

The mosque is characterised by its large size and intricate architectural design. Originally, the mosque had a rectangular plan structure, with a prayer hall with horseshoe arches and a central courtyard. However, after it was converted into a cathedral (known today as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin), various elements of Christian architecture were added, such as the chapels, the choir and a transept.

The history of the Mosque of Cordoba (when Cordoba was the capital of Al-Andalus) dates back to the time of the Caliphate of Cordoba, specifically in 785, when Abd ar-Rahman I built the Great MosqueIt was enlarged three times by successive caliphs, and new naves and chapels were added until it reached its present size.

cordoba mosque façade
Façade of the Mosque of Cordoba

Among the most notable additions to the mosque-cathedral are the Main Chapel and the Royal Chapel, built in the Baroque style during the 18th century. During the 19th century several side chapels were also added and the main façade was renovated.

Finally, it was in the year 1236 during the Reconquest when Cordoba was captured by the Christian forces of Castile and the mosque was also converted into a Christian cathedral. Among the changes made are the central nave that crosses the original structure, a Renaissance cathedral transept in the centre of the building and the old minaret converted into a bell tower that has been completely remodelled.

mihrab mosque cordoba
Mihrab of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

The prayer space is a large central courtyard surrounded by a forest of columns marble and granite floors along with double arcades. It also has a mihrabThe decoration of the mosque attracts all eyes due to the inscriptions that depict verses from the Qur'an along with the beautiful mosaics and marble sculptures. This is the part of the mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca (which was enlarged in the 10th century).

Today mass is celebrated daily in what is still the city's mosque-cathedral.

Most notable architectural features of the architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba

interior of the cordoba mosque
Interior of the Mosque of Cordoba

Due to all the extensions and changes that have been made to the architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba, it is important to mention that there are several that stand out architectural features that make it unique:

  1. Hypostyle design: The Mosque of Córdoba has a hypostyle design structure, which means that it has a large number of columns supporting the ceilings and creating a series of naves or aisles.
  2. Horseshoe arch: Horseshoe arches are a distinctive feature of Islamic architecture and can be found throughout the Mosque of Córdoba. These arches are horseshoe-shaped and are characterised by their elegant curve.
  3. Materials: The Mosque of Córdoba is built mainly of brick and stone, and some of the materials used in its construction were recycled from earlier Roman and Visigothic buildings.
  4. Ornamentation: The Mosque of Córdoba is decorated with intricate ornamental details throughout the building, including mosaics, carved plaster, gold, silver, copper and beautiful mosaics and tiles were created.
  5. Patio de los Naranjos: The Mosque of Córdoba also has a beautiful courtyard known as the Patio de los Naranjos, which features a central fountain surrounded by orange and cypress trees.
  6. Christian chapel: In the 16th century, a Christian chapel was built in the centre of the Mosque of Córdoba, adding an extra layer of architecture and symbolism to this impressive building.

How to get to the Mosque of Cordoba

To get to the Mosque of Cordoba, there are different options depending on your starting point. Here are some ways to get there how to get to the Mosque of Cordoba:

  1. On foot: If you are in the historic centre of Cordoba, it is possible to walk to the Mezquita. It is located on Calle Cardenal Herrero, near Plaza de las Tendillas and Plaza de la Corredera. Follow the signs to the Mezquita-Cathedral and you can get there easily.
  2. By public transport: Cordoba has a public bus transport system. You can check the routes and timetables that pass near the Mezquita and take a bus to the area. Find out about the routes available on the website of the Cordoba public transport company.
  3. By taxi: You can take a taxi from anywhere in the city and ask the driver to take you to the Mosque. The taxi drivers know the location well and will drop you close to the site.
  4. By car: If you have a car, you can drive to the Mosque of Cordoba. However, you should be aware that access by car may be limited in the historic centre due to traffic restrictions and lack of parking. It is advisable to use the public car parks located nearby and then walk to the Mosque.

Without a doubt, the architecture of the Mosque of Cordoba is one of the most striking in Andalusia, and is one of the most important in the world. once considered a wonder of the world by Muslims and Christians alike..

It is a unique example of how different cultures and religions can coexist and create something beautiful together. If you want to go deeper into the Mosque and learn about all its parts, visit the following post: Do you know all the parts of the Mosque of Cordoba?.

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