The Mezquita (Spanish term for "Mosque") of Cordoba is a fabulous and fascinating building that represents the several religious changes Cordoba has witnessed over the centuries. Today, the Mezquita of Cordoba is considered to be the cathedral of Cordoba (officially the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption), but the classic and wide range of its art and architecture is the work of Islamic architects, who constructed it as a mosque in the 8th century.
The location on which the Mezquita erects has long been acknowledged as sacred place – it was a splot where a Roman temple offered to Janus and a Visigothic cathedral offered to St Vincent of Saragossa prior to the mosque was built in the 8th century. Finally, a cathedral was incorporated inside the mosque by the Christian invaders in the early 13th century.
|Location||Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain|
|Geographic Coordinates||37°52′45.1″N 04°46′47″W|
|District||Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Córdoba|
|Heritage Designation||UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Architectural Style||Moorish, Renaissance|
The erection of the Mezquita of Cordoba took over two centuries, beginning in 784 AD under the guidance of the emir of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman I. in the reign of Abd ar-Rahman II (822-52), the Mezquita of Cordoba retained a true copy of the Koran and an arm bone of the prophet Mohammed, transforming it into a major Muslim pilgrimage site.
The Mosque witnessed numerous subsequent changes: Abd ar-Rahman III built a new minaret (9th century), while Al-Hakam II expanded the layout of the building and enhanced the mihrab (961). The final reforms include the completion of the outside aisles and orange tree courtyard, which were erected by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 987.
When completed, the Mezquita of Cordoba was the most mesmerizing of the more than 1,000mosques in Cordoba. But Cordoba faced frequent invasion and each conquering episode left its own mark to the architecture.
In 1236, Cordoba was taken from the Moors by Kind Ferdinand III of Castile and became a part of Christendom. The Christians initially did not disturb the architecture Mezquita - they just consecrated it, dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, and facilitated it as a spot of Christian worship.
King Alfonso X scrutinized the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel inside the structure of the mosque. The descendants who followed incorporated further Christian features: Enrique II reconstructed the chapel in the 14th century; the central part was built with the patronage of Carlos V, king of a united Spain.
The heavy, incompatible Baroque choir was approved in the very heart of the mosque by Charles V in the 1520s. Artists and architects consistently added to the existing building until the late 19th century, making the Mezquita of Cordoba a strange architectural oddity.
Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was the first to offer prayer in the Mezquita of Cordoba in 1931, as it was not open to Islam. In 1984, the historic center of Cordoba, encompassing the Mezquita, was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Mezquita of Cordoba also manifests classically gilded prayer niches. But the Mezquita's most remarkable feature is certainly the mihrab, a domed shrine of Byzantine mosaics constructed by Al Hakam II (961-76). It once retained the Koran and relics of Muhammad. Just before the Mihrab is the Maksoureh, a type of anteroom for the caliph and his people; its mosaics and plasterwork transforms it a masterpiece of Islamic art.
Although it does not gel with the rest of the mosque, the 16th-century Baroque choir is a great sight, with a comprehensive ceiling and articulately carved 18th-century choir stalls.
In the outer side of the Mezquita of Cordoba is the Courtyard of Orange Trees (Patio de los Naranjos), which in spring season is perfumed with orange flowers and displays a beautiful fountain.
The Torre del Alminar, the minaret once facilitated to summon the devotes to prayer, has a Baroque campanile. Hardy travelers can reach to the top to grab a panoramic view of Córdoba and its vicinity.
The Cordoba weather offers summers that are warm and long. Between November and Easter the weather here is little unpredictable, and in April to June, and September to October the weather and mercury levels are somewhat mild.
In July and August the weather reaches the temperatures of 36°C (97°F). In comparison the temperature in winter can span from 16°C (60°F) to 13°C (55°F). Overall the weather in Mezquita of Cordoba is nice.