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The Magnificent Mezquita of Córdoba

Some more on this wonder of the world.

semi-overcast 18 °C

Bag End
Saturday, 6th November 2021

We do appreciate all your comments and other support. Thank you very much!

So, we're now back home after a l-o-n-g drive from Ronda. Sorry for the delay in updating this Blog but we had a nice "doing not much at all" final day in Ronda before we returned to Bag End on Thursday. Since then, we've been trying to remember what we do when the weather turns cold!

Back in Córdoba.... before leaving on this trip, we had contacted the cathedral who sent us a list of guides along with the languages they spoke. John Emailed a selection but only got a response from one of them. She said her English was not up to doing a full tour but put us in touch with Ángela who was great. She offered loads of info and help, even before we got there. She alerted us to the fact that the weekend we were there was a holiday weekend (All Saints) and the place would be packed, which it certainly was. So we arranged to have our tour on Tuesday morning, before we set out for Ronda. (You may remember some of these photos from the last episode but had to be repeated here to complete the story).


We packed and loaded our bags into the car after breakfast and checked out of the Córdoba Parador, confusingly called Parador de Arruzafa above the entrance, which is the name of the road, and maybe the district?

A word on the breakfasts. They were all well organised. A buffet of most things you could think of though eggs, bacon, migas etc are cooked to order. On the table was a pair of throw away tongs for each person, and everyone was expected to use those as well as wear a mask, of course, whilst helping oneself. Anyone not abiding by the mask rule was reminded swiftly and firmly by waiting staff to conform. Well done!

The first entry into the Mezquita was 10am. Ángela sent a taxi to pick us up and she met us at the gate to the 'patio' or gardens. There was a big line of people to get in but we waited whilst learning about the patio and the other buildings around. The tower, built for the cathedral, had inside the original minaret from the mosque. Near there would have been the Islamic school and the patio would have been used for washing before taking prayers.


The mosque (mezquita in Spanish) would be the third largest in the world if it was still operating as a mosque but it could now never do so as Christians have buried bodies in there, which is a definite 'no-no' for a mosque. So it all now counts as a cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption though, interestingly, most locals don't know it as that, but still refer to is as la Mezquita.


We apologise for all the history and we're trying to pick out the really interesting bits from the "one hour" tour which turned into at least two hours. The potted history here relies heavily on the style of "1066 And All That" which only mentioned about two dates. John did 'A' Level history but only ever knew about 3 dates (1066, 1492 and 1815!).

We never knew Visigoths built churches, but they did, here, and that started the whole thing off. Then came the invading Muslims and in 785AD (when did they start calling it CE??) the Emir started the Mezquita. That was phase 1. The colourful arches not only hold the roof up but their tops act as channels when it rains which is sent shooting into the surrounding streets, soaking any passers-by.

No expense was spared on this construction, and the first part is where you enter, which is what we now did. Although this was the second time we went in it is still so gob-smackingly wonderful and not to be missed. The pillars are important as they give clues to which part of the Mezquita you are in. In the first part, they have bases and are of marble, but not so obviously so as......


...the first extension. Emirs/Caliphs like to try and out do each other and their power often stemmed from their great constructions. So in 836 AD or so, a second part was added by the latest Emir. Columns here didn't have bases but were again of marble. In both parts, the red colour of the arches depended on the bricks that were used.


Then came the final extension by al-Mansur ibn Abi Aamir ("Almanzor") in 987. An interesting guy who started off as a sort-of regent for the
heir to the Caliphate, who was too young to rule. And ended up refusing to give up power and acted effectively as Caliph, though his status was strictly that of a Vizier (players of the Alhambra game, please note!).

This is the "signature" of the mason who created this pillar (of fake marble). Most items had such a signature.

Are you still with us? This extension was done on a budget and the red in these arches was created by using paint and it can clearly be seen where this cost-cutting has lead to the red colour fading from the arches. And the pillars were not of marble, though they were made to look as if they were.


The Muslims were chucked out of Córdoba in the 11th Century and the Mezquita was plundered. Then the mosque and caliphate was briefly restored until 1236 when it was reconquered by King Ferdinand III. Not much was done to the mosque though it was used as a Christian cathedral. Wealthy families did build chapels round the Mezquita which was why there was opposition to the following.

In 1523, power hungry Bishop Alonso de Manrique, who wanted to become pope, instigated the building of the great cathedral in the middle of the mosque. This was opposed by the city council and by locals alike. But the bishop managed to persuade the King (Charles V of Castile) onto his side so the cathedral was built, in effect, on top of and into the old mosque.


Lots of various works and restorations have been done since, but that is the point where the Mezquita we now know reached the magnificence we see today.


We thanked Ángela for our wonderful tour (well worth the 50€ fee, plus taxi and tickets - reduced price for pensionistas). We reluctantly bid farewell to the centre of Córdoba, and went our separate ways.


We got a taxi back to the hotel and started our drive to Ronda. Watch out for the final episode of this Blog.


Posted by Johnash 12:14 Archived in Spain Tagged mosque cathedral cordoba parador mezquita

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Thank you for the wonderful pictures of this amazing building I just love!

by Gabriela

many thanks for an excellent tour which brought back many memories. I hope there is no exam at the end.

by Dennis and Margaret

Yes the vizier was noted thank you, such lovely clear photos better then buying post cards and cheaper for me.

by Vivienne Sawyer

I'd forgotten how truely wonderful it was. Thanks for the reminder & the great photos. Amazing what these clever ancients could build. But welcome home & see you soon.

by Maggie P

Great pictures & history that bought back lots of memories of our own visit to this incredible structure. Glad you're safely home after an epic tour; I'll look forward to your final episode on Ronda! ...

by Ian T.

Looks like you have had an amazing time. Lovely photos and it all looks so interesting. X

by Jenny Taviner

Thank you for the reminder of this amazing building. We did not have a guide but now wished we had. We will keep this part of your blog for future reference. Definitely worth the visit?
Ronda here we come!

by Jean and Ron

Very impressive indeed and some great shots to. It will remain on our bucket list for 2023. Note for Bob I was at Hastings but not in 1066.

by Paul

This email escaped our reading for some unknown reason! Fabulous photos of an amazing place. We didn't have a guide so it's been very interesting to read this. Córdoba is definitely one of our favourite places. Look forward to seeing Ronda, another great place to visit.

by Sue and Gordon

Fascinating history! Very smart to arrange a private tour - you get so much more out of a place doing that!

by Linda Ketterer

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