on October 5, 2007
Seeing Christian altars in an ancient Mosque will undoubtedly surprise you. I certainly did not expect to see such a cathedral in the middle of a mosque. The history of the cathedral is as follows: in 1236, when Fernand III conquered the city of Cordoba, the mosque became a Cathedral (of the Virgin’s Assumption) instead of being destroyed, like many other mosques during the Reconquista. The reforms brought to the former mosque strongly affected the north zone where all naves were closed, except the one that became the entry of the Cathedral under the name of Puerta de las Palmas. On the other hand, 52 chapels were constructed and the sumptuous Mirhab became the vestry of the present chapel of San Pedro. The transformation of the Mosque into a Cathedral lasted 243 years (1523-1766). After the transformations that were necessary to adapt the temple to the needs of the Catholic cult, the Capilla Mayor (Major Chapel) was built under the Catholic Kings with its precious marble altarpiece and its marvelous odd style church tabernacle, and is located next to the chapel of Villaviciosa from where the transept and the Gothic bows detach themselves. There are a few other chapels worth a short stop: in the chapel of San Bartholome, is buried Luis of Góngora, a famous Spanish baroque poet. ; in the chapel of "las Animas", I was reminded of pre-Columbian America when seeing the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.. In the chapel of the "Concepción", I could admire sculptures by Pedro de Mena (famous sculptor whose works can also be seen in Malaga, Madrid, Toledo and Murcia) and, in the chapel of the Cardinal Salazar, a statue of Santa Teresa sculpted by José de Mora. Not to be missed is the treasure of the cathedral where the Monstrance is kept; it is the main work of Henri de Arfe, and it is more of 2.5 metres high and 200 kilograms. This "Custodia" was carried in procession for the first time on Corpus Christi in 1518. Recently, the Bishop of Cordoba refused the right for Muslims to pray in the Mezquita-Cathedral, arguing that it was nowadays a place for the Catholic cult only. Opening times are the same as for the Mezquita (see my review of it) and the visit is included in your ticket for the Mezquita. Definitely the most unusual place to see a Cathedral and this is not to be missed!
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