Cordoba: Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral The Cordoba Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba, commonly known as the Great Mosque of Cordoba, is an Islamic mosque in Cordoba, Spain, that was transformed into a Christian cathedral in the 13th century. Construction on the mosque began in 729 AD and it was completed in 1492. It is the largest Muslim building in Europe.
The mosque's minaret, or tower, can be seen for miles around and it has become one of the city's symbols. The minaret serves as a guide for Muslims seeking prayer time during trips to Mecca, as well as a reminder to pray daily.
After the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom in 756, the territory became part of the new Muslim empire. In 788, under the leadership of al-Mundhir III, the last independent visigothic king, the Cordoban people surrendered their city to the Muslims without a fight. Al-Mundhir agreed not to interfere with Christianity in return for his life. He died within two years after surrendering Cordoba. His son, Roderick, who was only eight years old at the time of their father's death, was placed under the guardianship of a regent until he came of age four years later. During this period, the city was ruled by judges appointed by the king of Morocco.
It was referred to as the "mosque-cathedral" in official publications and tourist brochures two decades ago, a word that acknowledged its shared past. The Catholic authorities altered it to "Cathedral (former Mosque)" in 1998, and it has been just "Cordoba Cathedral" since 2010.
The mosque had three aisles with a total of six rows of columns supporting a vaulted ceiling. The current cathedral is much larger — it has seven aisles with a total of 13 rows of pillars — and its ceiling is also vaults rather than flat.
The first cathedral on this site was built around 581 by King Reccared I, about 20 years after he converted to Catholicism. This first building was a large church with three naves, but it was not enclosed. The second cathedral was built more than 100 years later and covered an area of about 40,000 square feet. It too had three aisles with a total of six rows of columns supporting a vaulted ceiling. The current cathedral is much larger—it has seven aisles with a total of 13 rows of pillars—and its ceiling is also vaults rather than flat.
After the Muslim conquest of Spain in 711, many buildings were constructed using Islamic design elements, such as minarets and domes. But when Christian rulers rebuilt their cities, they usually chose Gothic architecture as its popularity was growing in Europe at the time.
According to legend, the current location of the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba was once a Christian church dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa that was divided and shared by Christians and Muslims during the Umayyad invasion of Hispania. The invading forces converted the church to Islam but left the building untouched for religious purposes.
Many structures have been proposed over the years as being the original church of Corduba but none has proved conclusive until now. In 2010, an archaeological team led by Angel J. García from the University of Córdoba discovered traces of a structure in the area that dates back to around the time of the first Muslim invasion of Spain. Based on this evidence, they concluded that the original church was probably located in the center of Cordoba at the site known today as the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
The team also found signs of a violent confrontation between Christians and Muslims inside the original church. This shows that Muslims did not simply convert the church but fought with its former owners instead. After the conquest, the remaining Christians were allowed to keep their churches if they paid a tax called "alms". Those that could not pay were forced to become Muslims.
After the initial invasion, the city's population grew rapidly due to an influx of immigrants who were given land near the city walls in return for military service.
Because of its vastness and the sheer audacity of its ceiling heights, the Great Mosque of Cordoba is a one-of-a-kind aesthetic feat. It is an invaluable testament to the Caliphate of Cordoba, as well as the most iconic landmark of Islamic religious architecture. The original mosque was built by the Idrisids in 785 AD and underwent several renovations over the following centuries, until it was largely destroyed by bombs during World War II. However, many of its original features have been preserved and it is now considered one of the greatest mosques in the world.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba was important because of its size and its artistic significance. It was the largest mosque in Europe when it was constructed and it has been estimated that it could hold up to 20,000 people at one time. In addition, it was also one of the first major buildings to use advanced techniques such as concrete in its construction. Last, but not least, the Great Mosque of Cordoba is important because it inspired later architects to create more monumental mosques like the Gülhane Park Mosque in Istanbul or the Blue Mosque in İstanbul. These buildings are still used for worship today and they too have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Cordoba became a major center for science, philosophy, and culture under the rule of the Idrisid dynasty. Scholars from around the world came to study at the great university there and translate works from Arabic into Spanish.