Most cities in southern Spain have monuments from their periods under Moorish and – subsequently – Christian rule, but nowhere are they combined in the same structure as they are in Córdoba. The city’s Mosque-Cathedral is the greatest dual-identity monument in Spain and a powerful symbol of the two cultures that have shaped Andalusia. After the Moors captured Córdoba in 711, what had previously been a Visigoth Christian church was split in two and used by both Christians and Muslims as a place of worship. But in 784, on the orders of the Emir Abd al-Rahman, the church was destroyed and work on a great mosque began. Construction lasted for over two centuries and the building was eventually completed in 987, by which point Córdoba was the most important city in the Islamic Kingdom.
When the city was reclaimed by Christians in 1236, the mosque was converted into a church and in the 16th century Charles V added a great Renaissance nave right on top of the original Moorish structure. The mosque’s most-photographed aspect is its vast main hall, which is supported by over 850 double-arched columns. Sunlight and shadows create unusual effects as you wander among them, contemplating the multifaceted history of this great building.