La Mezquita, the grandiose Mosque-Cathedral is located in the Andalusia city of Cordoba. It was definitely a place we had to check out whilst we were visiting this charming city. The Mezquita is considered the most important ancient mosque in the Muslim world. The architecture is a unique combination of Visigoth, Christian, Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic styles. Now, you know why we had to witness it for ourselves.
La Mezquita de Cordoba visit:
La Mezquita Courtyard: (Mezquita de Cordoba)
As you enter into the grounds of the imposing, whole block occupying Mezquita, the first thing that strikes you apart from the Mudejar designs that adorn the entrance doors, are the size of the doors themselves. Each stands at about 20 feet plus by my estimation and look to be solid brass. These doors open up to an impressive courtyard. The main focus is the fountain, as well as the beautiful minaret ( a second reincarnation. The original was destroyed and rebuilt under the reign of Abd al Rahman III who wanted it pointing towards the north) that towers over one corner of the yard. We are now so used to the Mudejar style of architecture that we were not suitably impressed by the courtyard itself, unlike some other visitors :-) . Having seen some of the wonderful examples we have here in Seville, you can understand why. The courtyard was used for teaching and carriage of justice under the Muslim rule. There are orange trees planted in the courtyard and close to the fountain was their water supply. The sculpture of Saint Rafael sits at the top of the minaret, which was used as a call to prayer.
Mezquita Mosque: (La Mezquita in English means Mosque)
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The geometric design of the Mezquita is amazing, and how thick are those pillars!
Mezquita Cordoba history:
Also known as the mosque of Abderraman I. It was he who built the first mosque in 785! Imagine that for a second age wise. Insane right? It consisted of 11 naves and 11o columns of different heights due to the way the hall was built. He is responsible for the horseshoe shaped arches that is synonymous with this monument. It was actually an original design by the Visigoths, but went on to become the signature style of the Muslims once introduced to them. The candy cane stripes (alternating brick and stone) has been maintained throughout history. As the Muslim population grew, the mosque was extended over the years. I think this is my favorite part of the whole structure. I sort of felt like l was in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. It was mind blowing to me that thousands of years ago, men were capable of designing and executing such an intricate building. A building that has survived for hundreds of years and will definitely survive more. I can only imagine how much manpower went into building.
Mezquita Cathedral: (Mezquita Catedral de Córdoba)
The placement of this is actually quite awesome. You are so busy oohing and aahing because more than likely you are following the edges, walking in a square if that makes sense. You then look towards the middle and notice this amazing structure. Construction of the cathedral started in 1523 after then Bishop Manrique got permission from the King, Carlos V to build the church inside of the former mosque. They tore down the heart of the mosque and replaced it with this all marble and gold domed cathedral. Work was finished in the 17th century. Mahogany and marble pulpits were added in the 18th century. I loved the lights thrown by the stained glass windows that are abundant in the cathedral. Even though this reminds me of the Seville Cathedral, l have to say, l prefer the Mezquita.
The Mezquita covers over 24,000 square meters. It should be noted that the original mosque was constructed on the site of an ancient church that was dedicated to Saint Vincent, so l guess it goes to show that what goes around comes around :-) . One thing that l kept wondering about during our visit was how the Muslim visitors felt when they saw the building. There were a few Muslim tourists (women in the traditional jihab ) that we encountered. I kept thinking that if l were them, my thoughts would be “its about time that it became a mosque again”. I swear sometimes l think that has something to do with all the unrest and tension between the Muslims and Christians. They want their turn again. I’m no historian or what not..just trying to make some sense of what is happening. Please enlighten me as to your thoughts :-) .
Artifacts inside La Mezquita de Cordoba:
There were some really cool old artifacts on display inside the Mezquita too. Federico had studied some Latin in school and had fun schooling me on some of the finds. I love living history lessons.
Things to remember on La Mezquita Cordoba visit:
- You might think of Cordoba as a warm place all the time. Not so, l had to buy a neck scarf and a hat, l was freezing. Dress warmly, or at least bring a sweater. You can always tie it around your waist. Since it is mostly cement, l am guessing even with a big crowd in the summer time, it might still be a bit chilly (not sure about that..so check.)
- Wear sturdy shoes. The courtyard has these wonderful inlaid stones. Unless you’re used to walking on hard surfaces, stick with comfy, sturdy footwear.
- Leave at least two to three, or even more hours to fully check out the Mezquita and to appreciate all the various architecture. It really is amazing how they managed to combine so many different styles into one cohesive monument.
- Bring cash. They do not accept credit or debit cards at the box office. I know, we were surprised as well. Should you forget, go outside the door (use the one with the wheelchair ramp) and to the left. There is an ATM machine flat to the wall just a few yards on your right. Their fee is a reasonable $2.
La Mezquita altar. The blending of the Muslim and Christian forms is so unobtrusive and quite pleasing to the eye.
La Mezquita Hours: (Visita La Mezquita de Cordoba Horarios)
Monday – Saturday from 10am-6pm
Sundays: 9am-10.30 & 2pm-6pm
Entry fee is €8 ($10) adults. Half price for 10-14 year old kids and free for under 10.
If you’re hungry after your tour of La Mezquita, I highly recommend La Tranquera for the most awesome Argentinian food.
Is it worth visiting La Mezquita? Hell Yeah!!! :-) . It is big. It is beautiful. It is historic. Heck, how many times would you come back to Cordoba assuming you were a tourist? I bet the answer would be just zero. I suggest you ignore all those people that say “Oh, it’s just too touristy a thing to do. I am quite okay with just seeing it from the outside”. Living history. If you’re short on time, Cordoba makes for an excellent day trip from Seville, combine with a Cordoba Alcazar tour for a full day even though l would suggest a couple of days in Cordoba to fully appreciate it.
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Have l convinced you to visit Cordoba, and more specifically the great mosque La Mezquita? Are you a history or architecture buff and consider this beautiful? If not, what is your architectural style favorite? If you’ve been, how did you like it, and would you recommend this UNESCO world heritage site?