Córdoba and the Mosque

1000 Years Ago, Middle Ages Come Alive!

I have viewed antiquities in museums, but never did I fathom artifacts thousands of years old – treasured, protected and part of everyday living in Córdoba, Spain, near our home in Portugal.

From AD 711 to 10th century, Córdoba was the capital of Muslim Spain with over 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings, and one of the largest mosques in the world.

In 935, Córdoba was the world’s largest city and the intellectual center of Europe where Jews, Muslims and Christians practiced their beliefs in harmony.

The Moorish ruler, Al Hakam II, developed agriculture through the construction of irrigation systems, built markets to encourage economic development, and founded 27 free schools to increase literacy amongst the general population. Hakam was enlightened in numerous sciences and his library (destroyed by his successors) was over 400,000 volumes, the largest in the West.

1. La Mezquita Has Endured

Built in 786 expanded in 935 by Al Hakam II, the immense Mosque accommodated 10,000 worshippers, second only to Mecca. La Mezquita was Europe’s most important center of learning.

Here Moorish physicians discovered that disease was carried by minuscule airborne particles – leading to the practice of quarantine and germ theory.

La Mezquita After The ReconquistaMedieval Christian Military Campaign

In 1236 Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile and the mosque repurposed as a Catholic cathedral, preserving the expanse of this wonder of western Islamic architecture. (856 striped columns – 1293, before the cathedral arrived.)

2. The Minaret – AD 930

Next to the mosque the Muslim minaret was converted to a bell tower after the Christian conquest.

3. Watermills of the Guadalquivir

Norias (waterwheels) were a common feature of hydraulic technology across the medieval Islamic world. Buckets around the wheel collected water and dropped it into an aqueduct to deliver water to the city and to the Alcazar (royal palace).

In 1492, Queen Isabella ordered the wheel to be dismantled due to the incessant noise produced during its movement (it was near the palace, her residence.)

4. Puento Romano

Built in the early 1st century BC, (reconstructed over time), it was the only bridge across the river for two thousand years. At one end, Puerta del Puenta, the gateway to the mosque, Calahorra Tower at the other, originally a defensive tower, now a cultural museum.

AKA The Long Bridge of Volantis in Game Of Thrones.

5. Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

Castle of the Christian Monarchs – the fortress and primary residence of Isabella and Ferdinand and where Christopher Columbus made his pitch.

6. Jewish Quarter

Medieval, irregular narrow alleys and streets.

Córdoba: UNESCO World Heritage Site

1-Day Itinerary
1. La Mezquita
2. Minaret/Bell Tower
3. Mills of the Guadalquivir
4. The Old Roman Bridge
5. Alcázar de los Reyes Christianos
6. Jewish Quarter
Aurelio Teno Sculptures in La Mezquita
Things To Do Next Time
Roman Ruins/Mausoleum/Theatre/Forum
Palacio de Emperor Maximian, Palacio de Viana, Palacio de La Merced
Al-Andalus Cultural Museum
Caliphal Baths – Alcazar
Jewish Quarter 1315 Synagogue – one of three pre-conquest remaining in Spain.
City Roman Walls / Arco del Portillo
Andalusian Horses – Royal Stables (1570)
Horse show: Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun
Walking Tour – 12-13th century Fernandez Churches
Old Town statues and sculptures
Island of Sculptures-San Rafael Bridge
Andalusia Suspension Bridge
Parques and Jardines
May Flower Festivals:
– Las Cruces de Mayo
– Los Patios de Córdoba
– La Feria de Córdoba

After Christian Conquest

In late medieval Spain, Jews and Muslims endured forced conversion and exile. Following the discovery of the Americas in 1492, Córdoba’s prominence was replaced by Sevilla’s trading monopoly with the New World. Sevilla (at the time a port city before the river silted in) became southern Spain’s great city, wealthy and powerful through the 16th-17th centuries.

View SEVILLA blog post HERE.

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See links below to Andalusia’s two other major Moorish Capitals: Sevilla and Granada

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5 thoughts on “Córdoba and the Mosque

  1. So much history and beauty, exquisitely presented. Thank you!

  2. Absolutely stunning and enlightening. Thanks for sharing the journey! xo

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