The Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba is the only building of its kind in the world.
When Spain was under the control of the Moors, Cordoba was the most important city in the Moorish empire.
What does a city of a million (yes a million) people who are mainly Muslim need?
A gigantic mosque of course, and that is exactly what was built in Cordoba. However, once the Christians took the city back during the Crusades, there was no longer a need for a gigantic mosque.
The size of the mosque being what it was, impeded the Christians from pillaging it. The general concept of destroying a city was that it would be built even bigger in order to demonstrate the conquerors superiority.
In the case of the Mosque in Cordoba, that posed a problem.
Since building a church larger than the mosque on the site would’ve been an enormous task, the conquerors decided to keep the structure, and turn it into a cathedral.
The result is a UNESCO Heritage protected building that is one of a kind in the world. The only structure that I’ve ever seen that compares to it in scale is the Vatican.
Of course in order for the Catholic church to show it’s dominance over the Islamic religion they needed to modify the original structure. They shut off the open windows in the surrounding areas around the pillars and arches that are very emblematic of Muslim architecture.
This created a dark feeling in the parts of the building that still look Islamic. Then, in the very middle of the mosque they built a much more modern, and very Catholic structure.
The Catholic looking area is well lit, with a glass ceiling allowing much natural Andalucian sunlight in. This gives the new structure a sense of good, and the old structure a feeling of darkness or evil.
Along with the new Catholic structure built right into the middle of the building, they put chapels with saints and Catholic imagery throughout the building. Holy imagery is banned in the Islamic faith, therefore the images are yet another slight to the conquered.
My overall impression of the mosque cathedral of Cordoba was one of awe. It’s truly an impressive structure, and alone worth the 111 kms of cycling we had completed the day before to arrive in Cordoba.
ExperiencePlus! had organized our tour of the mosque for us, and the guide (like everything else on this trip,) was extremely professional.
She shared with us her knowledge, and was a smiling ambassador for her city, and its famous building.
The mosque cathedral of Cordoba is a ‘must see’ when in Andalucia.