Across Andalucia: Cordoba’s Mezquita…

As of May 2021, I am migrating most of my travel journals to Daveno Travels where I am reissuing them as Director’s Cuts, with full text and previously unpublished photos. This is an excerpt from my trip to Cordoba in 2012.

Cordoba is almost as much like OZ as Istanbul was.  My introduction to this city is a drive through a very crowded street, along a stone wall which I would discover is the Mezquita, a model of which I saw at the Islamic Science Museum in Istanbul last year, and a major reason I came here. I was also drawn to Cordoba because of its history as a scholastic and scribal center as far back as the 8th century.  Under Muslim rule, Spain celebrated a golden age of economic and cultural revival.  Christians, Jews and Muslims worked side by side in the scribal houses, translating the world’s scientific, medical and literary works into their respective languages.  It was among the most diverse and religiously tolerant city of its time. 

My taxi drops me off at the front door of Los Patios, across the street from the Mezquita. What a happy little hotel!  The enclosed courtyard is filled with palms and tables, with 23 fully furnished hotel rooms overlooking it from the second floor. The concierge tells me that admittance to the Mezquita is free in the morning (Sunday) and that my meals in the hotel are discounted by 10%.  I take advantage of that offer by sitting down to a dish of squid in ink sauce and my first Sangria before setting out to explore the city. (Those explorations are detailed at my Director’s Cuts for Andalucia at Daveno Travels.)

The next day, I walk across the street to the Mezquita. Admission is waived on Sunday mornings so locals can attend Mass.  Walking through the 800+ Islamic arches with Latin liturgy echoing in the background remains one of my most memorable experiences.

Walking through the Mezquita during Sunday Mass
  • The Mezquita was the largest mosque in the Western world, measuring almost 24,000 square meters. It was built in stages between 785 and 987 and would be considered the most important sanctuary of Western Islam.  It was inspired by the Mosque of Damascus and built from materials gleaned from the 6th century San Vicente Basilica.
  • The original mosque was divided into two parts: an open courtyard for ablution (the ritual washing prior to prayer) and this covered hall, with a capacity for over 10,000 worshipers. The archways, built of brick and limestone, are a Visigoth influence and add structural integrity to the building. The architect was Ahd er-Rahman, who was also the first independent Emir of Andalus. 

Walking from one end to the other is a tour through history, as you can discern the ages of the various naves by the differences in the columns and the structure of the arches.  

I admire the fretwork encased windows, many of which are reproductions.  At the other end of the building are a number of glass cases housing artifacts ranging from Visagoth carvings, to bibles with silver fittings, and what I believe is the gearwork for a clock or chime tower, as tall as me and about 8 feet long.  It’s a pretty impressive clockwork. 

See the rest of the details and photos at Cordoba’s Mezquita – The Director’s Cut” at Daveno Travels.

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