As far as the eye could see
However as I entered I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; I had already seen pictures of the Mosque–Cathedral in Córdoba, which looked amazing, and to be perfectly honest externally it is quite impressive as well, particularly the Bell Tower (which I had no intention of climbing, it had been a long day, and it was hot!).
However, I wasn’t prepared for the stunning sight that appeared before me when we walked in. I looked at Gary in disbelief - wow!!!
I knew, however good Gary's photo's would be, we could never convey to my Mother, who loves a good church, how impressive this place would be.
A helpful guide
Ahhh the call of Andalucía, I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our southern Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
A sea before you
I just didn’t expect to see the magnificent sea of columns in such numbers, all symmetrically laid out one after the other; it almost looked like you were in a hall of mirrors. People have referred to them like a forest of columns, and they are right.
There are over 850 of the towering pillars, built of jasper, marble, onyx and granite. All linked with sweeping dusty pink and white striped arches to the next pillar. Everyone was walking around with their eyes staring up or taking photos.
Behind the doors
The original mosque was built in a large square design, as you could imagine a mosque would be. If you wander around the outside of it, you’ll see that there are some amazing ancient doors. All the time though, if you hadn’t stepped inside you wouldn’t even know what is beyond them.
I might be being slightly biased as I’m quite a fan of Moorish architecture, so that’s probably another reason why I loved it so much.
Borrowed from the Romans
Building first began on the Mosque back in 785, part of the stonework used within the Mezquita was from the Roman temple which occupied the site previously. But also, some of the ruins of the ancient Mérida amphitheatre were used, which we had actually visited a few days beforehand.
Arrival of the Nave
Then if the immense number of columns wasn’t enough to impress everybody, when Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236 it became a Catholic Church, and during the 16th century, an imposing Renaissance Cathedral nave was built in the centre.
That’s what is so amazing, you have the mixture of Gothic, Renaissance & Baroque styles and it all works together so well.
Mihrab & Chapels
Inside it is quite dark, there are just a few rays of sunlight streaming through the nave and some side windows, but it’s the darkness that adds to the whole atmosphere.
As with most Cathedrals, there are individual chapels within it and this is no exception. However, what is noticeably unusual, is that there is also a Mihrab amongst the chapels and even more uncommon is that it doesn’t face Mecca.
Patio de Los Naranjos (Court of Oranges)
Before you step into the Mosque–Cathedral, you stroll into a very pleasant courtyard “Court of Oranges”. This courtyard is actually free for anyone to stroll around, even if you weren’t visiting the Mezquita.
It contains 98 orange trees, along with Cypress and Palm, and a great place to take the weight off your feet.
Could be my favourite!!!
Looking back on our pretty full on Spanish road trip in 2016, I think the Mezquita was possibly the highlight, just for the fact I really didn’t expect it to be.
I know some of you may be able to reel off a list of other Spanish wonders and believe me Plaza de España in Seville does come a close second. However, the old saying of it “has to be seen to be believed” is certainly true in this case.