Mosque of Córdoba, its history and curiosities


The Mosque of Córdoba is one of the most emblematic buildings in Córdoba city and throughout the province. It is the most important monument, with the Alhambra de Granada, of Andalusian architecture.

It was the second largest mosque in the world after Mecca until in 1588 the Sultan Ahmed Mosque of Istanbul overcame it.

It has been declared a Cultural Interest Site and World Cultural Heritage Site, and it is that the Mosque of Córdoba was visited by almost two million people in 2018, being one of the most visited monuments in Spain.

History of the Mosque of Córdoba

With the arrival of the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula in 714, Muza made the distribution of the Basilica of Saint Vicente Mártir of Visigothic origin, where in one part the Islamic cult was established and in another the Christian, although this coexistence was not easy.

The construction of the Mosque of Córdoba began in 786 on the basilica, due to the first Umayyad emir of Córdoba, Abd al-Rahman I. This first Mosque of Córdoba consists of eleven longitudinal naves oriented towards the Guadalquivir River, built with shafts of columns and capitals from Roman and Visigoth buildings.

Later, Hisham I, the second independent emir of Córdoba, made some interventions in the Mosque of Córdoba, finishing the courtyard or sahn and raising the first minaret.

In the time of Abd al-Rahman II and with the growth of the Córdoba city, the need to expand the Mosque of Córdoba was seen in order to house more faithful in the celebrations of Fridays. This extension began in 833 and ended in 855.

The first caliph of Córdoba, Abd al-Rahman III, increased the size of the courtyard, demolished the minaret built by Hisham I and built a new one that would be a model for other minarets and Mudejar bell towers.

During the 10th century, taking advantage of the greatness of the caliphate, the most extensive interventions were carried out in the Mosque of Córdoba. However, the one considered most beautiful is that of Al-Hakam II. In it the wall of the qibla of Abd al-Rahman II was demolished, the oratory was extended and the double wall of the qibla and the cover of the mihrab was built, among other improvements.

With the continuous demographic growth of Córdoba, Almanzor made another extension of the Mosque of Córdoba, but in this situation was to the east rather than south as in the previous ones, due to the proximity of the Guadalquivir River. For this he expropriated the hamlet that was located in the place and extended the patio and the oratory.

Once the reconquest of Córdoba was carried out in the year 1236 by Fernando III, various modifications were made in the Mosque of Córdoba, configuring the current Cathedral of Córdoba. In the year 1371 the Royal Chapel of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was completed. The Main Chapel brought controversy because over time they decided that greater dignity was needed and in the fifteenth century they made a new chapel where the old one of the century was. However, the greatest damage to the Mosque of Córdoba would come with the lifting of a Christian ship in the middle of the old mosque, which would lead to repentance.

This series of interventions are the ones that have made the Mosque of Córdoba really a mixture between the artistic values of the East and the West, receiving the name of Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.


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Structure of the Mosque of Córdoba

The Mosque of Córdoba is divided in two parts that are easy to differentiate. One is the outer part of the patio or sahn where there are different elements such as the minaret. The other is the interior of the Mosque of Córdoba and it is divided into five main parts. So you can better understand the structure that follows, we will go part by part.

Court of Oranges

This court has evolved with the changes and extensions that have taken place in the Mosque of Córdoba. It is currently 130 meters long and 50 meters wide. This courtyard is known as the Court of Oranges because of the number of orange trees planted inside it since the 15th century, although olive trees and cypresses were incorporated in the 18th century.

In it you will find the Santa María Fountain and the Cinnamon Fountain. Under the courtyard is a large cistern that provides the water necessary for the purifications that Muslims need before entering the Mosque of Córdoba.

Minaret

Built by Abd al-Rahman III, it is currently located inside the bell tower. This was damaged by a severe storm, which led to the demolition of part of the minaret for its arrangement. It stands out in the exterior image of the Mosque of Córdoba and is visible from different points of Córdoba. From the top of it you can also get beautiful ones of Córdoba city and especially from the old town.

Columns Forest

The Mosque of Córdoba has the characteristic of being the third largest in the world. This makes in its interior the succession of arches and columns quite impressive, what is called the Columns Forest or Palm Trees Forest. It has 1300 columns and 760 arches in total, spread over 23400 square meters.

Cathedral of Córdoba

The Cathedral of Córdoba is located inside the Mosque of Córdoba, which makes it a unique monument in the world. The parts that deserve to be highlighted in the cathedral are the High Altar, the Cruise and the Choir. The decision to build the Cathedral of Córdoba inside the Mosque of Córdoba created quite controversial and even regret, as the words of Carlos V showed “you have destroyed what was unique in the world and you have put in place what can be See everywhere”. However, this allows when you visit the Mosque of Córdoba you can appreciate different centuries of history in the same construction.

Mihrab

Towards him the prayer is directed and represents Alah inside the Mosque of Córdoba. While in other mosques only one niche in the qibla, in the Mosque of Córdoba is a space with great ornamental quality with 3x3 meters.

It is located next to the maqsura and what most attracts attention is its exterior decoration. It is decorated with marble, which shows the greatness that Córdoba had in the past.

Villaviciosa Chapel

It was the first important Christian construction in the Mosque of Córdoba. It was built in the skylight and had the function of the Main Chapel until the construction of the current cathedral.

Shrine Chapel

Its importance is due to the paintings and murals that adorn it. It is worth highlighting the painting of the Holy Supper and the representation of the Holy Martyrs of Córdoba.

These are the main spaces that are part of the Mosque of Córdoba, but inside it houses different doors, balconies and chapels that you can find and enjoy.


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Curiosities of the Mosque of Córdoba

The Mosque of Córdoba contains a large number of secrets inside, some of them have been discovered, others are supported by evidence, others are just legends and others will be hidden in its history. We are going to show some of these secrets that have already become curiosities.

Captive Column

Legend has it that there was a Christian captive who was arrested and bound until his death in the columns of the Mosque of Córdoba. This, demonstrating his faith, was able to scratch the hard marble of a column with his nails and was able to draw a cross on it. You can still see the column inside the Mosque of Córdoba and the cross that is engraved on it.

Hell Column

Near the captive column of the Mosque of Córdoba, there is another column that people used to scratch with a coin and caused a strong smell of sulfur. A legend says that it is because the column was carved from hell itself. However, the reality is that it is due to a chemical reaction.

Cementery of the Mosque of Córdoba

As in many of the ancient churches, in the Mosque of Córdoba, being part of it considered a cathedral, there are buried remains of great characters in history. Among them, Luís de Góngora stands out.

Franco in the Mosque of Córdoba

Once the Civil War was over, he wanted to move the Christian elements of the Mosque of Córdoba to another church to return the mosque to the Arabs. However, UNESCO prevented such transfer.

Mosque of Córdoba worldwide

After the catastrophe of Hiroshima, seeds of the orange trees were taken from the courtyard of the Mosque of Córdoba to plant a garden of peace in memory of the victims.

Star of Desires

Located in a corner of the Mosque of Córdoba, there is a small star that people usually touch when passing through it so that they are granted a wish.

Sabat

Formerly there was a passage in the Mosque of Córdoba that connected the enclosure with the Umayyad Alcazar. It was built so that the caliph could pass without being seen, but in the 17th century it was demolished. Marks have been drawn on the ground to find its precise location.

Aleph

The legend says that in one of the columns of the Mosque of Córdoba the aleph is carved and that in this column the energy of the universe converges, although it has not yet been found by anyone.

Water of the single women

There is a tradition around the Mosque of Córdoba that says that single women who want to find a partner have to drink from the water of the Santa María Fountain of the Court of Oranges, from the pipe that is closest to the olive tree.

Gold chain

Inside the Mosque of Córdoba there is a gold chain which circled itself. Now it is short, but in ancient times it reached the ground. It is believed that the bishops who resided in the Mosque of Córdoba cut it every time they needed to make a payment.

Jesus Christ painting

Among the different Christian images that you can find inside the Mosque of Córdoba, there is a painting of Jesus Christ that says that if you stare into the eyes of Jesus Christ, he will make a sign so that you can make a wish.

Ox statue

In the Main Chapel of the Mosque of Córdoba there is a statue of an ox. This statue, according to the legend, is in commemoration of an ox that loaded with the columns that are in the Mosque of Córdoba and that after carrying the last ones fell dead.

Secret tunnel

There is a legend that says there is a passage that connects the Mosque of Córdoba with Medina Azahara. This tunnel has not been discovered, although there are tunnels that are not prepared for the passage of people.

Blue stones

In the Court of Oranges of the Mosque of Córdoba there are some square stones of bluish color. Several speculations were created about it, but it was definitely discovered that it was from an old water tank.


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