The Mosque of Cordoba has had an interesting history, beginning as a Moorish Mosque in the 10th century and consecuted as a Christian Cathedral in the 13th century after the request of Cordoba. Throughout the years it has undergone many alterations. The Royal Chapel was built after the Reconquest as a pantheon for Spanish Kings and has also been much improved by succeeding generations. A nave was added later while the minaret of the old Mosque was converted into a bell tower. Some sections of the mosque were converted from the original Arabic architecture to Mudejar or converted to Moorish style and later to Gothic style.
Inside the Mosque
The inside of the Mosque is stunning, with a profusion of arches and Pillars that gives one the impression of being inside a tent in the desert. The arches were made with alternating segments of brick and stone, the red brick layers alternating with the white stone layers and making us aware that although we are in a Christian church, this was once a Moorish house of worship. The profusion of columns further adds to the sensation of being inside a desert lodging.
The Mihrab had its origins in the prayer niches of the Coptic Christians. In mosques it is usually placed in the wall facing Mecca and is often decorated. At the mosque in Cordoba, it has been lavishly decorated since it was built in the age of the greatest splendor of Moorish Spain. Golden Byzantine mosaics make us aware that Cordoba was one of the most prosperous as well as populated cities of Europe. Its poets, intellectuals and artisans excelled in their pursuits and their influence is seen in the construction of the mosque.
In the sixteenth century, a cathedral was built inside the mosque and over the years, it has been improved and decorated by Spain's best craftsmen. The Gothic style of the cathedral is particularly interesting because of the many items that are a part of the decor. Two mahogany pulpits with a life-sized bull and lion in marble are some of the attractions that welcome the tourists.
The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower, originally the minaret of the mosque, is a good place to get some stupendous views of the city of Cordoba. You will need to climb a number of steps to get there but the effort is well worth it. The mosque itself is set on a hill and the height of the bell tower makes it an ideal place to see the surrounding country as well.