Planning A Visit To the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
A visit to the Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba was top of my list of things to do when we visited Córdoba. The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba (Mezq uita-Catedral de Córdoba) retained the history of an ancient mosque that operated for three centuries. And it housed the current Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción).
We wandered around the outside and then the inside. It was easy to see why this building was considered to be one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture. At one time, both Muslim and Catholic places of worship operated side by side. Today only the Catholics worship in the church. Although the Muslims continued to petition to be allowed to worship here.
A little research confirmed that this was a massive site to visit. When we climbed high in the tower at the Alcazar in Córdoba, we got an aerial view and the cathedral tower stood high above the city.
We decided to break our visit in two. One afternoon we walked around the outside. The next morning we were at the doors at 8:30 with the rest of the crowd. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was free every morning except Sunday from 8:30 to 9:30 (it is 10€ the rest of the time). At 9:30, the guards swept everyone out for morning mass.
The Doorways Around The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
As we walked around the outside of the Córdoba Mosque-Cathedral we saw the numerous doors into the church. It was an ever-changing show.
Each door and archway was a different design. We saw doors with what looked like classic Gothic designs, others with strong Moorish designs and some that blended design styles. Some were in great shape and the colours were fresh. Others look ravaged by time.
We certainly saw a view of religions side by side at the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. When we toured the inside, we saw several of the doors from the other side.
Heading Into The Mosque-Cathedral
We walked around the outside of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba and wandered the inner courtyards for free. The doors to the inner courtyards were closed when the church was closed so some planning was needed.
The bell tower stood high at the front gates to the courtyard. At 54 metres it was the highest building in Cordoba. It was easy to see when we climbed high in the Alcazar in Cordoba. It was interesting to learn that each of the bells had a unique name.
The Puerto del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness) was the main entry gate under the bell tower. It retained an interesting mix of architectural styles. Faded frescos adorned the top. Moorish arches were covered in ancient writing. The ceiling of this main gate looked almost Baroque in style. Cherubs decorated the corners.
The Inner Courtyard
The side doors (Puerto de Santa Catalina) into the courtyard had large metal doors with lion door knockers. Frescos decorated the top of this doorway.
Entering the inner courtyard of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, we got our first close view of the church front.
The Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard) was treed with benches and fountains. One whimsical fountain top amused the visitors.
A portico went around three sides of the courtyard. On the walls inside the portico, we saw old beams that were recovered from earlier construction. Ancient church bells were in one corner. It was another interesting view of religions side by side in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
We saw the entrance used by those that went for the prayer service. It was decorated with statues and had another intricately carved metal door.
Preparing For Mass
The main altar and worship area of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba were roped off for the 9:30 mass. The priest prepared the sacrament. Folding chairs were set up to receive worshippers. It was a beautiful and intricate space.
Stained glass windows and beautiful ceilings were above the altar. A large organ adorned one wall.
The Vaulted Interior Of The Church
The first thing we noticed as we moved further into the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was the arcaded hypostyle hall. There were 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite. Moorish style arches went between the columns. This hypostyle hall reminded me of the ruins of hypostyle halls we saw in Egypt.
Around the outside of the columned hall there were a series of chapels on all four walls. The chapels varied in design, content and size.
Moorish Elements Remain In The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
Ceilings throughout were intricate and colourful, whether they were traditional stone carvings or painted frescos.
Much of the interior of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was very Catholic in decoration. As we reached the far corner, the design and decoration became much more Moorish.
On the side walls we discovered the inside of the many doors we saw when we toured the outside of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
In some places there was even a curious mix of Islamic and Catholic religions side by side in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
Recovering and Preserving the Past
In several places we saw tombs marked on the floors. We never learned how many people were buried in this building.
At the back section of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba there were many displays of artifacts and architectural elements recovered from previous incarnations of this great structure. One display showed the ancient mechanism used to toll the bells.
In another spot, the floor was covered with glass and was open to a lower level. It looked like excavations continued.
Religions Side-By-Side In The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
Our tour of the outside and inside of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was fascinating. Moorish Islamic design was side-by-side with traditional Catholic design. Everywhere we looked there was something yet more beautiful and interesting to see.
On our stay in Cordoba, we were glad we visited this church on two separate trips. Our first visit outside let us understand both the size of this site as well as the varied architecture. When we went inside, we had the right context to view the mix inside.
Have you visited the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba? Did you find the mix of Moorish and Catholic design and places of worship as fascinating as we did?
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