La Mezquita

23 Sep

We traveled to Cordoba to see La Mezquita, a Mosque-Cathedral founded, originally, as a Roman temple and later Christianized by the Visigoths.

The Visigoth’s Christian temple was replaced by a Muslim Mosque when the Moors of North Africa invaded to rule portions of Spain for almost 800 years.

The Mosque’s extensive naves lie perpendicular to the qibla, the outer wall. Uncharacteristically this qibla does not face Mecca. The internal structure is characterized by horizontal collonades running the entire length of the space.

Jasper, granite, marble and onyx are used in geometric detail of arches and doorways.

In the 1200s Cordoba was conquered by the Christians and the Mosque became a Catholic church. But the real transformation of its architectural beauty came when a powerful Roman Catholic bishop joined with the King of Spain to rip out the center of the Mosque to add a Cathedral.

Even the king was appalled when he saw what had been done to the beautifully proportioned space and declared it “ruined.” Today you can see the juxtaposition of ornate decoration applied to the stark horizontal beauty of the original Mosque. Simple lines are interrupted by later ornamentation.


Today some political leaders in Spain press to convert Catholic churches back to Mosques. Whatever the politics, the detailed serenity of some of the original Muslim architecture remains.







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