Mezquita-Catedral, The Great Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain
Updated: Mar 20, 2019
If you're heading to Cordoba, you simply can't miss visiting the architectural wonder - the Mezquita. The large edifice was one of the most important mosque in the Islamic Kingdom before becoming a cathedral. While you are there, learn more about the most representative monument to the two religions that have shaped Andalusia: Christianity and Islam.
How to get to the Mezquita of Cordoba?
Getting there is easy as the Mezquita is easily identifiable by the tall bell tower and it is a short walk from the Jewish Quarters. Do take note that the Mezquita closes in the afternoons on Sundays (between 11.30am to 1.30pm) so if you arrive in Cordoba at that time, head for the other attractions first!
Because almost everyone who visits Cordoba travel there to see the World Heritage Site: the Mezquita, expect the queues for the tickets to be long. We actually wanted to visit the mosque-cathedral after lunch but even before the Mezquita opens, there were already a snaking line of people queuing for the tickets, waiting for the ticket office to open. Yikes.
If you do not want to stand in line, purchase your tickets online (10 euros) or even for a guided tour (20 euros) into the Mezquita that grants you skip-the-line-tickets alongside detailed explanations of the history! Those who are purchasing their own tickets, remember to also purchase the tickets for the bell tower (2 euros) so that you can head up for a splendid view of Cordoba!
Extra goodies for early-birds! You'll get to enjoy free entry into the Mezquita from 8.30am to 9.30am on Mondays to Saturdays!
A little bit more about the Mosque-Cathedral
Interestingly, it is not just these two cultures (Islam and Christianity) that have played a part in shaping the Mezquita as it is now. It started off first as a Roman Temple which was later replaced by a Christian Visigoth church. But when the Moors took Andalusia over from the Christians in 711, this Visigoth church was split into two halves and used as a place of worship by both the Muslims and the Christians. This was considered to be an extraordinary act of tolerance, especially during that period of time.
Yet, that didn't last... In 784, the church was demolished and work to construct a great mosque started. After two centuries, the largest mosque in the Islamic kingdom was established in 987 alongside a courtyard and an outer nave. During that time, it was also when the Islamic Kingdom was at its most powerful.
Much later, in 1236, Córdoba was recaptured by the Christians. The then King, Ferdinand III, immediately ordered for the mosque's lanterns to be converted into bells for Córdoba's cathedral. Subsequently, Christian monarchs have altered and made additions to the mosque (without ever demolishing it) hence giving the Mezquita its unique hybrid structure; a little Islamic, a little Christianity.
The Naranjos (Orange Tree) Courtyard
Before you enter the Mezquita, take some time to marvel at the orange trees! Here, you'll also get to witness how huge the Mezquita is.
During the Islamic period, this courtyard was used for public events such as for justice purposes and for teaching. While you are there, you should also be able to find a large aljibe (water tank) that provided water for purification for the Muslims.
Inside the Great Mezquita of Córdoba
When you first step inside the Mezquita, you'll be greeted by the most photographed Hypostyle Prayer Hall. It is remarkable how they actually created these 856 marble and granite columns and brick-and-stone arches so many years ago. The Mezquita didn't have much lights inside which allows the sun rays to create awesome rays amongst the columns.
The large edifice's centrepiece also contains the shell-shaped prayer niche or mihrab. It was built in the 10th-century and it is traditionally supposed to face towards mecca. However, the mihrab of the Mezquita faces south, just like the Damascus Mosque.
Explore the area and you'll get to see the magnificent cathedral portion of the Mezquita.
The Bell Tower
After getting so far, you simply can't miss the Bell Tower. During the Muslim rule, Abderraman III built the Alminar (tower to call for prayer) that still remains although lots of reconstruction work had to be done over the centuries as there was the danger of it collapsing due to storms.
All in all, the Mezquita is indeed an architectural wonder and it felt simply amazing to breathe the air at the site where so much history and culture have evolved!
Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba
Calle Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
Mondays to Saturdays - 10am to 7pm; Sundays - 8.30am to 11.30am and 3.00pm to 7.00pm (ticketing office closes half an hour before closing time)
Book to bring along for #travellerswithchildren: The Most Magnificent Mosque
The Most Magnificent Mosque is a children's book that tells about the story of three boys: Rashid, a Muslim, Samuel, a Jew, and Miguel, a Christian. Based on a true story, learn about the boys who stood together in the face of power and force in just a few pages. What's amazing is also the colourful illustrations; a glimpse of it given on the cover of this book.