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Cordoba's Great Mosque: "La Mezquita"

The Cathedral within the Mosque of Cordoba is located in the historic center of the city and shows a mixture of different architectural styles, as it was built and modified over nine centuries. The most impressive is certainly its Moorish architecture, one of the most beautiful examples of this art in Spain. When one approaches the modest facade Photo one hardly can imagine to find in its interior one of the greatest monuments of all the country. British author Gerald Brenan wrote: it is the most beautiful and original building of all Spain.

With an extension of 23.000 square meters it is the third-biggest mosque in the world. Its construction started in the year 785 and initiated the so-called Califal style, which combined Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, Syrian and Persian elements. This style dominated all the Moorish-Hispanic architecture of the centuries to come, up to the Mudéjar-style of Moors living in Spain after it was reconquered by Christians.

Caliph Abderramán I. started the construction of this temple over the ruins of an old Visigothic church. During this first phase the colossal hall which consists of 11 naves with 110 columns, was built. The columns' capitals were taken from ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings. Above there is a second row of arcs, then an architectonic novelty, creating a unique ambience of light and shadow.

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Abderramán II. added 8 more arcs in 833, with columns of white marble taken from the Roman amphitheater of Merida.

Alhakem II built in 961 the minaret, Mihrab, and the Kliba with its cupola of entangled arcs in 961, both being among the major attractions today. The last an most important enlargement was made in 987 by caliph Almanzor, doubling the original size of the mosque and adding columns of blue Photo and red marble.

The mosque of Cordoba has also two particularities: It is the only mosque that doesn't have the Mihrab as its central point. The reason is because this enlargement could be made only towards West, as the river Guadalquivir, in the South, and the palace of the caliph, in the East, were very close.

The other particularity is that the mosque of Cordoba is not orientated towards Mecca, but towards Damascus - perhaps because of nostalgic feelings of Abderramán I., who expressed in his poetry how much he was missing the mosques of his home-town.

When the Christians reconquered Cordoba in 1236, they consecrated the mosque to be the Christian cathedral.

In 13th century the first modifications were made and the Royal Chapel, Capilla Real, was added.

In 1523 the Catholic Church and King Charles V. put through against the will of the town's administration to build a Christian cathedral inside of the original mosque.

Works took 234 years, so the original Gothic style is combined with Baroque and Renaissance elements Photo Remarkable are the Cardinal's Chapel and its treasure, including a monstrance of Enrique de Arfe, an ivory crucifix of Alonso Cano and important sculptures and paintings.

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