mapa de andalucíaYesterday we visited the historic center of the city of Córdoba, about two hours northwest of Granada.

Phoenicians were the first civilized people to rule what is now Córdoba, then Romans, then Christian Visigoths, then Muslims from Syria who established a caliphate, which I think was on par with setting up a second Pope and Vatican.

In 785 the caliph from Syria began construction of a mosque. First he tore down a 6th century church. Then he oriented the new mosque not toward Mecca, as dictated by the Koran, but toward Damascus. Over the next several hundred years—in spite of threats from Christians and more pious/literal Muslims from North Africa—the caliphate remained intact and the mosque was expanded three times.

Then, in 1236, a Catholic king took control of Córdoba and swiftly went about changing most things Muslim (ban on bullfights? canceled!). He also forced Jews and Muslims to convert and/or leave or be killed.

Rather than tear down the mosque, however, the conquering king and later the locals (in conflict with the Pope), believed that the beauty of the mosque was too precious to destroy. So the mosque was consecrated as a Catholic church and, in 1523—when there was finally money available, thanks to gold and silver coming in from the New World—work began to build a proper Catholic cathedral within the existing structure.

Today the entire historic center of Córdoba is a World Heritage Site, dominated by the world’s largest cathedral (by square feet), which plenty of people still refer to as a mezquita, or mosque.



3 thoughts on “Córdoba

  1. karla mcgray

    You visited the place that was really my favorite on our recent visit to Spain. Walking into the mosque now cathedral took my breath away. I found it so interesting that under Muslim rule, the Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony with respect for one another. Then the Christian Church moved it and look what happened. The juxtaposition of religious images in the mosque/cathedral was fascinating. We lingered there for a long time. Thank you for bringing back so many rich memories and images.


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