All over Spain we are reminded about the legacy left over by the Moorish occupation with their stunning mosques and fortresses. Most of these buildings can be found in the southern region of Spain called Andalucia and they are incredibly preserved. Most of these structures you can still go inside and marvel at the distinct architecture created by them.
In Cordoba you can admire the church turned mosque turned cathedral in the old part of town. It was built-in 784 and still in use today! It’s located near the Alcázar and right across the Guadalquivir River. It’s absolutely incredible on the outside and when you reach the courtyard inside you’ll feel like you’re in a paradise. There are orange trees everywhere and stone water channels circling around you. This mosque was regarded as the most important religious building in the “west” for the Islamic people of this time and Cordoba was the third most important city after Mecca and Baghdad.
Entry inside the mosque is free from the hours of 8:30-9:30 am and they will kick you out if you stay longer than 9:30. Personally I don’t think you’ll need more than an hour unless you like to read every single plaque and relic that you find. The main reason I wanted to go inside was to see the arcs and the Mihrab. You can do a guided tour for 37 euros a person if you want to go in-depth about the history about the building and you can pre-buy tickets on the website. Otherwise just the standard entry fee for adults from the hours of 10:00-18:00 is 9 euros. Youngsters aged 10-14 years old are 4 euros and kids under 10 get in free.
Inside you’ll find over 800 columns and the stunning gateway that is composed of 3,000 pounds of glass and enamel. Here I’m talking about the Mihrab and usually in all mosques the Mihrab faces Mecca but this one does not. When I was face to face with this incredible arch I was in awe that someone could put all these pieces of glass together to make such a statement feature. Pictures do not do it justice people..you need to go see it.
So this mosque was first a church until the Moors came to Spain and took it over. They converted it to a mosque adding new additions with each sultan who ruled over the city. It has gone through five major transformations until the final change in 1236 to a Romanesque style cathedral. When the Moors had control of this mosque they allowed Christians to have their own prayer room. Today the Islamic residents of Cordoba have petitioned to be allowed to have a designated prayer area but have been rejected by the church of Spain and the Vatican.
There are 37 chapels and 20 doors in this massive religious building but it’s very easy to navigate your way around the place. It’s basically just a large rectangle and you make a few rounds scanning the columns, relics, and the altar in the center.
Also, there is an old minaret turned bell tower that you can climb for only 2 euros. They only take tourists up every 30 minutes and there is a chance that the next block is full so get in early to pick the time you want to head up to get a great view of the courtyard and the city. We arrived in the morning around 9:20 but the 9:30 block was full so we had to wait until 10:00. So just keep that in mind.
For more information you can visit the official website of the Mezquita of Cordoba.
Have you been here before? Let me know in the comments below!