on February 23, 2010
Even if you're not an Iberian Peninsula history buff, you can't miss this architectural wonder that influenced the style of southern Spain. This was originally built as a mosque but after the Muslims were pushed out of Spain by Isabella and Ferdinand during the Reconquista, the building became a church and has been ever since. However, the Islamic architecture was retained and the building is now open to the public on a daily basis.This is the building with the famous red and white arches that hold up the ceiling. They are made of brick and stone and seem to go on endlessly. I recommend going early in the day for the best lighting. We got there in the late afternoon and some of the more fascinating areas, like the mihrab (a prayer niche) were in shadow and it made it very difficult to see them. With the mosaic work, it should sparkle like crazy- but that's only if the light hits it, and we didn't get there early enough. The mihrab I mention is the area where the Imam preached the Friday prayer sermon during the time of Islamic rule, and it is the deepest one in the world. Also, the gold and glass mosaic depictions of vines and Koranic verses around it are absolutely stunning. We didn't get very good pictures though because it was so dim when we were there. Go when the sun is high in the sky and the domes above the mihrab are lit up. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. We didn't get to go inside of it, but I've heard that you can, and if you get the chance, go in it and take a look at the mother-of-pearl dome to it. It's shaped like a shell. I'e only seen pictures but I wish it had been open for viewing because it looks pretty.Also, take a good look at the walls outside the Mezquita as you walk in the outer gate. I didn't notice it at the time, but I learned in a recent Art History class that the walls around the complex are 9 feet thick! I went back and looked at the pictures I had taken and sure enough, they are. It's incredible how thick they are and some parts of the gate are also part of the church, and so help to hold it up. Still, it's pretty wild to have such thick walls. The walls are decorated with beautiful horseshoe and cusped arches, and the gates are gilded and shine when the sun hits them (another reason to go when the sun is high). This is definitely a building where you want the sun above, because the interior can be so dim it's hard to really see, and you lose a lot of the effect.All in all, amazing place to see, and if you go out of your way to see it, I PROMISE you won't be sorry you did!
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