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Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Spain)

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Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, {CATEGORY}

In the 8th century, this Mezquita (Great Mosque) became the crowning glory of Muslim architecture in the West. With its fantastic labyrinth of red-and-white candy-striped Moorish horseshoe arches, it remains one of the grandest attractions in Europe. Not even the Catholic cathedral placed in its center can destroy the impact of this "forest" of architectural pillars. We suggest that you visit the phantasmagoric rows of columns and arches first, saving the florid cathedral for last. The caliph of Córdoba, Abd el-Rahman I, built this place of worship in 785. To do so, he razed an earlier Visigothic basilica, which itself had replaced a Roman temple. Initially, the Great Mosque covered 23,400 sq. m (251,000 sq. ft).. The Mezquita was built in various stages, following an overall plan of a crenellated square perimeter enclosing El Patio de los Naranjos (Court of Orange Trees), which is one of the principal entrances to the mosque. This courtyard was redesigned following the Reconquista. Still visible are the irrigation channels dug by the Muslims. Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), on the north wall, is the former entrance into the mosque. Before the Catholic takeover, the mosque had a total of 900 pillars. Remarkably, 856 pillars are still standing. Their red-and-white peppermint stripes are formed in large part by white stone and redbrick voussoirs. The pillars are also built of onyx, granite, marble, and jasper, filling a total of 19 aisles. A second row of arches set above the first almost doubles the height of the ceiling. Some of the most interesting pillars came from the ancient Visigothic basilica. You can pick these out by the impressive carvings on their capitals. Since some of the pillars brought in were taller than others, they had to be sunk into the floor of the mosque. The oldest known pillar came from Egypt and dates from the reign of Amenophis IV. In the very heart of the Mezquita is the Mihrab, where the faithful gathered for ritual prayers. Bordered by Koranic sculptures and with carved stucco adorning its upper walls, the Mihrab was the holy sanctuary where the Koran was kept. It was also said to have another precious treasure: a bone from the arm of the prophet Muhammad. The bejeweled Koran was copied by the caliph's own hand and anointed with his blood. This sanctum is covered by a scallop-shaped dome, which is richly decorated with beautiful colored mosaics and gilded tiles. In this area you can see the Maksura, the enclosure reserved for the caliph and his entourage. This most sacred part of the architectural ensemble is roofed by a trio of ribbed domes resting on interweaving multifoil arches. One might call such florid and flamboyant architecture "Islamic baroque", it features golden mosaics, arabesque, carvings, cupolas, palm-leaf motifs framed by Sufic script, and marble panels. The Byzantine mosaics, which have hundreds of pieces of tiny gold, glass, and ceramic tiles, were a gift of the 10th-century emperor of Constantinople. The frieze in gold and blue that runs all the way around the Mihrab lists the 99 names of Allah. In later years the addition of Christian chapels destroyed the architectural harmony of the Mezquita. At the far end of the mosque is the Capilla Villaviciosa, which was completed in 1371. The chapel features a stalactite ceiling and stunning plaster lacework. Also added was the Chapel Royal, decorated in the 1200s with Mudéjar stucco. Although the people of Córdoba rallied against the idea, Emperor Carlos V ordered that part of the mosque be torn down to make way for the Catedral, which disfigured the mosque. Later he regretted his decision, saying to his architects, "What you are building here can be found anywhere, but what you have destroyed exists nowhere". Construction began in 1523 in the Gothic style, although later additions were in the Plateresque and baroque styles, and even the Renaissance shows up in decorative figures in the medallions in the apsidal vaulting in 1560. The greatest achievement is the baroque choir stalls by Pedro Duque Cornejo, the Andalusian sculptor, created around 1750. He depicted on either side of the stalls the Ascension and scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in lifelike detail. Almost equally stunning are two pulpits in marble, mahogany, and jasper. One of the pulpits rests on a pink marble ox. In the Sacristy, next to the Mihrab, is the Treasury, displaying beautiful examples of Cordovan silver and gold artistry. Visiting the Mezquita - Audio guides, giving elaborate commentary - sometimes more than you might have wanted - about the Mezquita in any of a half-dozen different languages, are available from a separate kiosk outside the mosque's main entrance. They rent for 3.50€ ($5.60) each and require a cash deposit of 20€ ($32), or some valid credit card or document left as insurance that you'll return the equipment. Photographs are allowed, but not if you use a tripod. And there are strict security regulations (no big bags or suitcases allowed) at the entrance.

Practical Information

Address: Calles Torrijos, Cordoba

City: Cordoba

Country: Spain

Phone 1: 95-747-05-12

Opening hours: Nov and Feb daily 10am-6pm. Dec-Jan daily 10am-5:30pm. Apr-June daily 10am-7:30pm. Mar and July-Oct Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 9-10:45am and 1:30-6:30pm

Entrance fee: Admission 8€ ($13) adults, 4€ ($6.40) children 13 and under

Access by bus: Bus 3

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Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, {CATEGORY}

In the 8th century, this Mezquita (Great Mosque) became the crowning glory of Muslim architecture in the West. With its fantastic labyrinth of red-and-white candy-striped Moorish horseshoe arches, it remains one of the grandest attractions in Europe. Not even the Catholic cathedral placed in its center can destroy the impact of this "forest" of architectural pillars. We suggest that you visit the phantasmagoric rows of columns and arches first, saving the florid cathedral for last. The caliph of Córdoba, Abd el-Rahman I, built this place of worship in 785. To do so, he razed an earlier Visigothic basilica, which itself had replaced a Roman temple. Initially, the Great Mosque covered 23,400 sq. m (251,000 sq. ft).. The Mezquita was built in various stages, following an overall plan of a crenellated square perimeter enclosing El Patio de los Naranjos (Court of Orange Trees), which is one of the principal entrances to the mosque. This courtyard was redesigned following the Reconquista. Still visible are the irrigation channels dug by the Muslims. Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), on the north wall, is the former entrance into the mosque. Before the Catholic takeover, the mosque had a total of 900 pillars. Remarkably, 856 pillars are still standing. Their red-and-white peppermint stripes are formed in large part by white stone and redbrick voussoirs. The pillars are also built of onyx, granite, marble, and jasper, filling a total of 19 aisles. A second row of arches set above the first almost doubles the height of the ceiling. Some of the most interesting pillars came from the ancient Visigothic basilica. You can pick these out by the impressive carvings on their capitals. Since some of the pillars brought in were taller than others, they had to be sunk into the floor of the mosque. The oldest known pillar came from Egypt and dates from the reign of Amenophis IV. In the very heart of the Mezquita is the Mihrab, where the faithful gathered for ritual prayers. Bordered by Koranic sculptures and with carved stucco adorning its upper walls, the Mihrab was the holy sanctuary where the Koran was kept. It was also said to have another precious treasure: a bone from the arm of the prophet Muhammad. The bejeweled Koran was copied by the caliph's own hand and anointed with his blood. This sanctum is covered by a scallop-shaped dome, which is richly decorated with beautiful colored mosaics and gilded tiles. In this area you can see the Maksura, the enclosure reserved for the caliph and his entourage. This most sacred part of the architectural ensemble is roofed by a trio of ribbed domes resting on interweaving multifoil arches. One might call such florid and flamboyant architecture "Islamic baroque", it features golden mosaics, arabesque, carvings, cupolas, palm-leaf motifs framed by Sufic script, and marble panels. The Byzantine mosaics, which have hundreds of pieces of tiny gold, glass, and ceramic tiles, were a gift of the 10th-century emperor of Constantinople. The frieze in gold and blue that runs all the way around the Mihrab lists the 99 names of Allah. In later years the addition of Christian chapels destroyed the architectural harmony of the Mezquita. At the far end of the mosque is the Capilla Villaviciosa, which was completed in 1371. The chapel features a stalactite ceiling and stunning plaster lacework. Also added was the Chapel Royal, decorated in the 1200s with Mudéjar stucco. Although the people of Córdoba rallied against the idea, Emperor Carlos V ordered that part of the mosque be torn down to make way for the Catedral, which disfigured the mosque. Later he regretted his decision, saying to his architects, "What you are building here can be found anywhere, but what you have destroyed exists nowhere". Construction began in 1523 in the Gothic style, although later additions were in the Plateresque and baroque styles, and even the Renaissance shows up in decorative figures in the medallions in the apsidal vaulting in 1560. The greatest achievement is the baroque choir stalls by Pedro Duque Cornejo, the Andalusian sculptor, created around 1750. He depicted on either side of the stalls the Ascension and scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in lifelike detail. Almost equally stunning are two pulpits in marble, mahogany, and jasper. One of the pulpits rests on a pink marble ox. In the Sacristy, next to the Mihrab, is the Treasury, displaying beautiful examples of Cordovan silver and gold artistry. Visiting the Mezquita - Audio guides, giving elaborate commentary - sometimes more than you might have wanted - about the Mezquita in any of a half-dozen different languages, are available from a separate kiosk outside the mosque's main entrance. They rent for 3.50€ ($5.60) each and require a cash deposit of 20€ ($32), or some valid credit card or document left as insurance that you'll return the equipment. Photographs are allowed, but not if you use a tripod. And there are strict security regulations (no big bags or suitcases allowed) at the entrance.

Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, {CATEGORY}

In the 8th century, this Mezquita (Great Mosque) became the crowning glory of Muslim architecture in the West. With its fantastic labyrinth of red-and-white candy-striped Moorish horseshoe arches, it remains one of the grandest attractions in Europe. Not even the Catholic cathedral placed in its center can destroy the impact of this "forest" of architectural pillars. We suggest that you visit the phantasmagoric rows of columns and arches first, saving the florid cathedral for last. The caliph of Córdoba, Abd el-Rahman I, built this place of worship in 785. To do so, he razed an earlier Visigothic basilica, which itself had replaced a Roman temple. Initially, the Great Mosque covered 23,400 sq. m (251,000 sq. ft).. The Mezquita was built in various stages, following an overall plan of a crenellated square perimeter enclosing El Patio de los Naranjos (Court of Orange Trees), which is one of the principal entrances to the mosque. This courtyard was redesigned following the Reconquista. Still visible are the irrigation channels dug by the Muslims. Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), on the north wall, is the former entrance into the mosque. Before the Catholic takeover, the mosque had a total of 900 pillars. Remarkably, 856 pillars are still standing. Their red-and-white peppermint stripes are formed in large part by white stone and redbrick voussoirs. The pillars are also built of onyx, granite, marble, and jasper, filling a total of 19 aisles. A second row of arches set above the first almost doubles the height of the ceiling. Some of the most interesting pillars came from the ancient Visigothic basilica. You can pick these out by the impressive carvings on their capitals. Since some of the pillars brought in were taller than others, they had to be sunk into the floor of the mosque. The oldest known pillar came from Egypt and dates from the reign of Amenophis IV. In the very heart of the Mezquita is the Mihrab, where the faithful gathered for ritual prayers. Bordered by Koranic sculptures and with carved stucco adorning its upper walls, the Mihrab was the holy sanctuary where the Koran was kept. It was also said to have another precious treasure: a bone from the arm of the prophet Muhammad. The bejeweled Koran was copied by the caliph's own hand and anointed with his blood. This sanctum is covered by a scallop-shaped dome, which is richly decorated with beautiful colored mosaics and gilded tiles. In this area you can see the Maksura, the enclosure reserved for the caliph and his entourage. This most sacred part of the architectural ensemble is roofed by a trio of ribbed domes resting on interweaving multifoil arches. One might call such florid and flamboyant architecture "Islamic baroque", it features golden mosaics, arabesque, carvings, cupolas, palm-leaf motifs framed by Sufic script, and marble panels. The Byzantine mosaics, which have hundreds of pieces of tiny gold, glass, and ceramic tiles, were a gift of the 10th-century emperor of Constantinople. The frieze in gold and blue that runs all the way around the Mihrab lists the 99 names of Allah. In later years the addition of Christian chapels destroyed the architectural harmony of the Mezquita. At the far end of the mosque is the Capilla Villaviciosa, which was completed in 1371. The chapel features a stalactite ceiling and stunning plaster lacework. Also added was the Chapel Royal, decorated in the 1200s with Mudéjar stucco. Although the people of Córdoba rallied against the idea, Emperor Carlos V ordered that part of the mosque be torn down to make way for the Catedral, which disfigured the mosque. Later he regretted his decision, saying to his architects, "What you are building here can be found anywhere, but what you have destroyed exists nowhere". Construction began in 1523 in the Gothic style, although later additions were in the Plateresque and baroque styles, and even the Renaissance shows up in decorative figures in the medallions in the apsidal vaulting in 1560. The greatest achievement is the baroque choir stalls by Pedro Duque Cornejo, the Andalusian sculptor, created around 1750. He depicted on either side of the stalls the Ascension and scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in lifelike detail. Almost equally stunning are two pulpits in marble, mahogany, and jasper. One of the pulpits rests on a pink marble ox. In the Sacristy, next to the Mihrab, is the Treasury, displaying beautiful examples of Cordovan silver and gold artistry. Visiting the Mezquita - Audio guides, giving elaborate commentary - sometimes more than you might have wanted - about the Mezquita in any of a half-dozen different languages, are available from a separate kiosk outside the mosque's main entrance. They rent for 3.50€ ($5.60) each and require a cash deposit of 20€ ($32), or some valid credit card or document left as insurance that you'll return the equipment. Photographs are allowed, but not if you use a tripod. And there are strict security regulations (no big bags or suitcases allowed) at the entrance.

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