Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba

Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

From Afar - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

Outer Doors - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

Outer Doors Hospital de San Sebastian.jpg

Outer Doors Postdigo de Palacico.jpg

Outer Doors SanIl de fonso - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Outer Doors San Nicolas - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Outer Doors San Sebastian.jpg

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.

Bell Tower - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

Puerto del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness) Main Gate - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Puerto del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness) Main Gate.jpg

Puerto del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness) Main Gate.jpg

Puerto del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness) Main Gate.jpg

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.

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Lion Door Knocker.jpg

Entering the inner courtyard of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, we got our first close view of the church front.

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The Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard) was treed with benches and fountains. One whimsical fountain top amused the visitors.

Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard).jpg

Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard).jpg

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.

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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.

Prayer Entrance Outside View - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Prayer Entrance Outside View.jpg

Prayer Entrance Outside View.jpg

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.

Cathedral Mass - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Cathedral Mass - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Stained glass windows and beautiful ceilings were above the altar. A large organ adorned one wall.

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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.

Hypostyle Hall Arches - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

Hypostyle Hall Arches Chapels - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg



Chapels - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Moorish Elements Remain In The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Ceilings throughout were intricate and colourful, whether they were traditional stone carvings or painted frescos.

Ceiling Design.jpg

Ceiling Design.jpg

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.

Moorish Ceiling Design - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

Moorish Ceiling Design.jpg

Moorish Design.jpg

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.

Moorish Design Inside Doors - Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

In some places there was even a curious mix of Islamic and Catholic religions side by side in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.

Design Mixed - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

Tombs Graves - Religions Side By Side In The Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba Spain.jpg

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.

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In another spot, the floor was covered with glass and was open to a lower level. It looked like excavations continued.

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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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  1. I always find it fascinating how cathedrals can look so historical but artistically extravagant at the same time. I’ve always wanted to visit Cordoba, hopefully I can make it there soon!

  2. What an inspiring and educative post – thank you! The Moorish epoch in Spain is absolutely fascinating and it had an impact on so many aspects of Spanish life. I keep going to Italy – I actually should travel far more often to Spain.

  3. The architecture is absolutely amazing! Your photos captured so much detail. What an awe inspiring place to visit!

  4. Wow this is such an interesting place. Visiting Mosque-Cathedral will be amazing. It will be cool to visit Islamic and Catholic religious cultures together. I have never been to Cordoba before, but I will ensure I visit this place when I am there.

  5. Cordoba at one point in time was an important city, and after the Moorish attack the cathedral was converted into mosque. It holds a lot of historical significance, I would like to visit it sometime in the future.

  6. Your photos are amazing in a way I feel like I’ve virtually toured this place by reading this. However, it won’t stop me from visiting in real life. I am reaaaallly hoping Spain will open to vaccinated travelers this summer so I can visit Cordoba, and probably Sevilla and Granada as well

    • I do hope you get to visit these great spots in Spain. Thanks for the comments on our photos. But it really is a spot that you need to visit and see it in person. It was stunning. Just one of the great spots we loved.

  7. I visited a long time ago with my parents. The Spanish guide told us that the mosque was built during the Andalusian period, next to the cathedral. Then, as the Islamic population increased, the governor bought over the cathedral and the mosque expanded. At the time the arches didn’t have doors so the sunlight came inside. After the Reconquista, when the Muslims and Jews were driven out of Spain, Queen Isabella wanted to demolish it, but her husband thought it was too lovely to destroy, so it became repurposed as a cathedral instead. The Cordobans seemed proud of their Andalusian era.

  8. Cordoba and surrounds have so much to offer in terms of history and architecture! We loved our visit here. Also this part of Spain is relatively less crowded by tourists. The Mosque-Cathedral is truly spectacular and interesting. Your images bring out the architecture beautifully. Of course, the Naranjo trees are the best – they are all over Andalucia. We have wondered how come no one plucks those oranges! 🙂

    • We were certainly glad we got to enjoy the inside and outside of the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba. But we sure could have used some fresh oranges in the hot temperatures. We loved seeing these trees all over this part of Spain.

  9. Wow- the interior is so lovely. I can see why it took you several visits to soak up the whole thing.

  10. Thiis place has layers and layers of coolness IMO. Despite being non-religious I love visiting religious places and the fact that there are two under one roof is particularly fascinating. And, oh, that Moorish design and all the detail. Just awesome!

  11. I love Cordoba! I approached the city through the back gate and was really surprised by how large the Mosque is, you got some amazing photos of the doors. I wish I had read this prior to my visit, I visited on my own and missed a lot of the details you pointed out. Great tip to arrive early for free entrance.

  12. What a fantastic cathedral! I love Moorish architecture and the Mosque-Cathedral Of Córdoba seems to be a perfect example of it. We wanted to visit Córdoba on our last road trip through Spain, but didn’t make it there in the end. We’ll definitely have to return someday to see this cathedral.

    • I would highly recommend a stop in Cordoba on your next visit to Spain. We were so amazed at how much we found to see and do. And such beautiful architecture like the Mosque-Cathedral.

  13. Cordoba was the one town we missed during our tour of southern Spain. Seeing this post made me regret that decision. What a beautiful and unique mosque-cathedral!

    • We were amazed at how big and beautiful this spot was. The variety in the architecture was amazing. A Catholic ceremony was in progress when we visited. But I am not sure if it is currently used as a mosque at all./

  14. I have heard of this place many times watching Rick Steves. I always find it fascinating how it changed hands over the years depending on who took over the area. It is such an amazing mixture of cultures.

  15. We visited this amazing place 2 years ago this month (our last overseas travel insert a huge sigh and cry) We were there for probably 2-3 hours and the whole time I was in awe at how they managed to incorporate the Christian religion without losing the stunning architecture of the Moorish religion. Unfortunately we were then rushed off to our accommodation and we left next morning.

    • We were glad we visited outside and inside on two separate visits. So much to see. But we too were amazed at how the two religions and architecture were mixed in the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.

  16. What a lovely site to visit. Such details in the architecture would keep me there for hours. Spain has some of the best churches and loved seeing how influences over the centuries found its way into the design. I would definitely add this my list.

  17. Gosh, what an eclectic mix of buildings designs and styles. It’s easy to see the two different religions’ influences. The old artefacts are really cool. I wonder how many tombs there are. It’s kind of weird to walking over top of them.

    • It was indeed a fascinating mix. And awesome to see side by side. We always wonder if there are really people buried in the tombs. Some famous people we have seen supposedly buried in different places around the world!

  18. This is simply stunning! While I love all the architecture and it amazes me how much detail goes into it, I really love the stained glass window. I have not had the privilege of visiting a mosque yet, but hope to be able to one day! I couldn’t imagine attending a service in one of these beautiful buildings.

    • It was amazing to to visit and see the stunning detail in all parts of the Mosque-Cathedral. I am sure a service would be magical. Sadly we were kicked out when the service started.

  19. What a beautiful architectures! The red and white wall inside the cathedral reminded me of a circus though. I wonder if both Moslem and Catholics were buried here.

    • I had not thought about the red and white looking like circus colours! But it was sure a colourful spot to visit. So much more history than we got on a short visit.

  20. Absolutely stunning place. I went there a long time, but would like to return to see the details again. It’s such a fascinating landmark and one of the most beautiful places in Spain. Wonderful photos.

  21. I missed Cordoba and this place has wonderful Moorish architecture. Those stained glass windows and beautiful ceiling above altar are really beautiful. The view from above the tower at the Alcazar is really stunning and also its architecture.

  22. I feel like I can spend two days here. One day exploring outdoors and one day exploring indoors. I really enjoyed looking at all the door details. My favorite side door being the one with the lion door knockers.

  23. I have never been to Cordoba but am hoping to go back to Spain when we can & after seeing this I will definitely be adding it to my list. It is such interesting architecture & so much to see that I’m not surprised you split it into 2 visits. The doors & ceilings in themselves would keep me fascinated for hours. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Wow! This is interesting. I ever thought this is possible but having both religions side-by-side is just amazing plus it shows a very strong message that we can co-exist peacefully together.

    Thank you for sharing the structure. The intricate details are really fascinating and beautiful. Would love to visit in the future.

    • I am glad you enjoyed this post. We too found it fascinating to see the religions and architecture co-exising and were glad that it had been kept as the building changed hands several times.

  25. I’m certainly not religious but old churches sure do have amazing architecture. I love to also see all the ages of time that churches have and since churches are some of the oldest remaining buildings from history its such a great way to learn.

    • We too are not religious but it is great to see the inside and outside of beautiful religious sites like the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. So much history to see.

  26. Oh my, isn’t this a beautiful cathedral! A fusion of architecture, Baroque and Moorish styles complemented with cherubs, historical jewel reflecting centuries of worship and this incredible mosque-cathedral is right up my alley and beckons a visit as soon as possible – I never knew Cordoba has such hidden gems and glad you have brought such life into a part of Spain I am yet to visit. I would love to learn the history behind the names of the bells in the tower.

    • I hope you do get to visit Cordoba and see the Mosque-Cathedral. It was truly a fascinating stop on our trip. Just plan for a long visit. There was so much to see!

  27. It’s definitely a grand piece of Architecture and love the concept of a Mosque Cathedral. We had come across a Cathedral in Portugal at Silves where the Mosque was later converted to a Cathedral. The Baroque architecture there too was absolutely fascinating to see.

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