on October 6, 2007
The gold of your ceilings shines like the lightning crossing the clouds, said one Spanish poet when describing la Mezquita. Seen from the outside, the dazzling Mezquita, jewel of Spanish Art, looks more like a military fortress than a religious temple. It is only once I entered inside that I could admire its magnificent architectural designs. Opening times in summer: 10am-7pm Monday to Saturday; Sundays and Bank Holidays from 9am to 10:15am and 2pm to 7pm. Timetables change with the seasons, so check the exact opening times when you arrive. Entrance is 8€ (discounts for children).Inside the Mezquita, I could witness four architectural styles corresponding to four construction stages (and the people who inspired it): - 785 to 793 (Abdelramman I, emir of Cordoba): the main door open towards the North was built as well as the eleven rooms of the central part. The mosque was inaugurated in 793. - 833 to 848: (Abdelramman II) the mosque is widened towards the South and nine supplementary arches were added. - 964 to 965 (Al-Haqem II) : the mosque is again widened towards the south and reaches between 964 and 965 the shape of a gigantic rectangle. Eleven others arches were added near the outside wall of the temple, the rooms are widened by adding thirteen columns for each row - and finally, the magnificent Mihrab was built, whose decoration is currently considered as the chef d’oeuvre of Byzantine design in Spain. It is then the apogee of the mosque of Cordoba.- 987 onwards (Al-Manzor): The temple is extended towards the East. During these four construction stages, the overall architectural silhouette varied little in substance. The current main door of the Mosque (Puerta del Perdón, 14th century) is oriented towards the North and is mudejar in style. Past the entrance, the labyrinth of the columns shows us the overflowing Oriental imagination canalized by religious rigor and partially transformed by Christian sculptors. The styles of the columns are diverse: Ionic, Corinthian or mixed, and most of them are painted in diverse ways: the blue and white arches are Muslim; the religious paintings on other arches are undoubtedly Christian. But the highlight of the mosque is undoubtedly the marvellous Mihrab. The wealth of the three chapels that composes it is indeed fabulous. Its imposing arches with their extraordinarily beautiful Byzantine mosaics, marvellously designed marbles and beautiful multicolored columns dazzle us. The "Mihrab" is one of the highlights of the Arabian architecture in Spain. During the times of the Caliphate, it is there that was kept the precious Koran copied by the Caliph Oman and authenticated by his own blood. La Mezquita is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful mosques I ever visited and the most beautiful Spanish one. Not to be missed!
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