After paying a couple hundred bucks for a Eurail pass for Spain/Portugal, I’m definitely getting good use out of the pass. Going from Sevilla to Cordoba is only 45 mins by AVE (Spain’s answer to the TGV) and instead of paying the 45 euros each way for “Preferente class”, it only cost me 10 euros for the reservation. Getting to the Mezquita of Cordoba takes a bit of walking, since the Renfe station isn’t exactly close to the old town.The following blurb from Sacred Destinations gives way more insight about the Mezquita than I’m prepared to write at this point
The site on which the Mezquita stands has long been a sacred space – it was host to a Roman temple dedicated to Janus and a Visigothic cathedral dedicated to St Vincent of Saragossa before the mosque was constructed in the 8th century. Finally, a cathedral was added inside the mosque by the Christian conquerors in the early 13th century.
The construction of the Mezquita lasted for over two centuries, starting in 784 AD under the supervision of the emir of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman I. Under Abd ar-Rahman II (822-52), the Mezquita held an original copy of the Koran and an arm bone of the prophet Mohammed, making it a major Muslim pilgrimage site.
The Mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd ar-Rahman III ordered a new minaret (9th century), while Al-Hakam II enlarged the plan of the building and enriched the mihrab (961). The last of the reforms, including the completion of the outer aisles and orange tree courtyard, were completed by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 987.
When finished, the Mezquita was the most magnificent of the more than 1,000 mosques in Cordoba. But Cordoba was subject to frequent invasion and each conquering wave added their own mark to the architecture.
In 1236, Cordoba was captured from the Moors by King Ferdinand III of Castile and rejoined Christendom. The Christians initially left the architecture Mezquita largely undisturbed – they simply consecrated it, dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, and used it as a place of Christian worship.
Being inside the Mezquita, the same feeling of awe and history that I had when visiting Jerusalem overcame me. The history and the juxtaposition of the Muslim elements with the high Christian elements was just overwhelming. There is not much that I can add about the Mezquita that has not been written already.
As a travel wonder in the world, I think that the history and detailing in both the Mosque and the Church are something to be seen and can be appreciated without any significant historical context, because it can stand on its own as a work of art. The religious and historical significance of the Mezquita, only serve to heighten the impact that it can have on anyone.
Some of the best pictures came because of the stained glass refracting the light above.
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