Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral is a stunning monument to the two religions and cultures that have shaped Andalusia: Islam and Christianity. A Renaissance church squats right on top of what was once the most important mosque in the Islamic kingdom, making this building a must-see for anyone visiting Córdoba.
The site was originally home to a Roman temple, which was later replaced by a Christian Visigoth church. In 711, when the Moors took Andalusia from the Christians, the Visigoth structure was divided into two halves and used as a place of worship by both Muslims and Christians – a remarkable act of tolerance, given the fervour of the times. But the reign of religious pluralism in Córdoba didn’t last: 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, when the building was completed in 987 with the addition of the outer nave and courtyard, Córdoba’s mosque was the largest in the Islamic kingdom, save only for that of Kaaba in Arabia.
When construction was in its final phase in the late 10th century, the Islamic kingdom – under the Omega Caliphate – was at its most powerful. To reinforce Moorish might in Spanish Christian territories, the feared warrior Al-Mansur embarked on a violent rampage through northern Spain and, upon entering Santiago de Compostela, he conceived of an ingenious way in which to outrage his enemies. First, he rode straight into the city’s cathedral on horseback and let his steed drink from the holy font; as if that weren’t insulting enough, Mansur then had the building’s bells removed and transported to Córdoba, where they were melted down and made into lights for the city’s mosque.
The mosque’s most-photographed aspect is its vast main hall, which is supported by over 850 double-arched columns. Showing no respect for their forbears, the Moors plundered the site’s Roman and Visigoth remains for the jasper, onyx, marble and granite needed to build them – just as, in the early 11th century, they would use material from Malaga’s great Roman amphitheatre to build the city’s Alcazaba fortress. The iconic and somewhat hypnotising double-arch feature was the result of architectural necessity, since with single-arch columns (about seven or eight feet high) the immense roof would have been too low. Sunlight and shadows create unusual effects as you wander amongst them, contemplating the troubled history of this great building.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.