Results 1-10of 21 Reviews
Scotland, Scotland, United Kingdom
July 11, 2012
From journal Cordoba and Granada
ashbourne, United Kingdom
August 28, 2010
From journal Andalusian travels
March 3, 2010
Moor and More - Year One in Andalucía,
The Cream of Cordoba
Los Angeles, California
February 23, 2010
From journal Moorish Spain: Seville, Cordoba and Granada
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
April 18, 2008
From journal Five Days in Andalusia
October 6, 2007
From journal Romans, Muslims, and Christians in Cordoba
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
January 24, 2006
The most beautiful and best-preserved Moorish public building, the Mezquita (whose name simply means "mosque" in Spanish), is almost synonymous with Cordoba's age of greatness in most visitors' minds. Originally built atop the ruins of a Visigothic Cathedral in the late 8th century, it was expanded almost continuously over the next two centuries by progressively wealthier and more ambitious emirs. Contrary to popular belief, it remained relatively undisturbed for three centuries after Fernando the Saint reconquered Cordoba in 1236; it was only in 1523 (and against the vehement opposition of the Christian town council that an incongruous Cathedral was placed at its heart, damaging, but not destroying, its neat symmetry.
Entrance is through the Patio de Naranjos a walled former ablutions court on its north side decorated with the orange trees from which its name derives. It's a pleasant enough place to linger in its own right, but to continue farther you have to purchase a ticket (€8, good for one visit only) before entering. This separation between the court and the Mezquita itself dates to its being commandeered for use as a cathedral. Originally, all 19 of the doors between the Patio and the building itself were open during worship, with orange trees planted in such a way that they lined up with its veritable grove of columns topped with double horseshoe arches. The Mezquita's interior was thus sunlit and worshippers were drawn inward toward the Mihrab, the sanctuary from which the words of the imam emanated and toward which prayer was directed, as it indicated the direction to Mecca.
These doors have remained closed since its consecration for Christian worship, and consequently the Renaissance Cathedral at its heart, whose ornate decorations contrast starkly with those of the Mosque surrounding it, is the only area that is well lighted. On entering, my first impression was that the columns and horseshoe arches were more attractive than impressive; it was only once I came to appreciate their sheer number and symmetry that I began to appreciate the Mosque's beauty. There are variations in the color (particularly in the marble used for the columns themselves) and structure of the arches, but their overall harmony is nevertheless impressive in a way unlike anything else I have seen.
Upon seeing the damage inflicted by the Cathedral's construction, Emperor Charles V, who authorized the act, lamented that its architect "destroyed something that was unique in the world." Ironically, the manner in which simple, repetitive Islamic architectural elements put all the ornate visual propaganda of the Spanish Empire to shame serves in a way to further emphasize their beauty. The Mezquita's attractiveness grows the longer you remain inside, or better yet, on multiple visits (which are possible since you can enter freely to attend Mass, when only the Cathedral is lighted and photography is prohibited). As it was intended for daily worship, this further affirms the brilliance of its design, making it a fitting memorial to medieval Europe's most enlightened and cultured city.
From journal Cordoba: Where History Takes a Siesta
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
January 12, 2009
From journal Fascinating Cordoba
October 5, 2007
Metro Manila, Philippines
March 25, 2007
From journal Cordoba and Back to Madrid: Part 4, Final Part