La Mezquita

March 07, 2007


This great massive mosque, covering several square acres, is simply indescribable and astonishing. It is one of those you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it kind of places. No pictures can ever do justice to the experience and it is one that should not be missed. It was one of the highlights for our whole crew.

The image it is most known for is its beautiful arches with over a thousand red and white-ish columns in a gigantic , tall maze where one could get lost. They are made from jasper, onyx, marble and granite. We were there early morning in low season so could take our time just absorbing it all without crowds.

What I found most fascinating is the mosque/cathedral combination. The Mezquita is actually a Roman Catholic cathedral called officially the “Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin”. You can wander quite a bit with out seeing that, so it is startling when you see how it is intertwined. The history of this stupendous sacred place is also thought provoking.

In Roman times, this site was a temple dedicated to Janus. Later the Visigoths came along around 500 CE and made it into a Christian church dedicated to Saint Vincent. Then construction of the Mezquita (originally called Aljama Mosque) started in  784 AD and lasted for two centuries. It was once the second largest mosque in the Muslim world and the only one that did not point to Mecca.When Cordoba was recaptured from the Moors by King Ferdinand in 1236, the mosque was reconsecrated a Christian church which was the normal practice of that time.

Most of the Mosques in Spain were destroyed during the Spanish Inquisition, but what probably saved this one is they built a renaissance cathedral nave right in the middle of the structure. The locals, old Christians and new converts alike are known to have also fought hard to protect this monument.

It is a unique experience to see two cultures and religions so deeply intertwined and curious that Mass is still held there regularly. I can not help but wonder what it is like to go to church there one’s whole life.

We also had a fortuitous family moment as we discovered what appeared to be a crypt inside under all those awe inspiring arches that had a family name on it. Who knows if it was an ancient relative or not, but it was an exciting find that made it even more personal.














« previous | | next »


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference La Mezquita:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner