Córdoba – once the most cultural city of Western Europe

Cordoba mosque

Walking on the orange tree square in the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba feels like being thrown back to the 10th century. In the early 8th century, the Omajjaden dynasty conquered southern Spain and appointed Cordoba, located at the Guadalquivir river, the capital of the emirate “Al Andalus”. Within two centuries, Cordoba was transformed to one of the most cultured, educated, modern, cleanest and largest cities of the world. In the once western Europe´s largest and most cultured city, many sights are waiting to be discovered. However, the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba alone is a reason enough to visit this charming Southern Spanish city.

Mosque Cordoba
The bell tower, former minaret, and orange tree square.
The mosque-cathedral of cordoba

Entering a building, known as one of the largest Islamic buildings in the world, is breathtaking. But once you realize the vast size of this building, you discover even more astonishing details. Being totally overwhelmed by the Islamic architecture, suddenly the organ of the cathedral starts to play. Your skin starts to crawl and you are speechless with amazement.

The mosque was originally built in the 8th centre and was the largest of its kind. Over centuries, the rulers of the califate extended the mosque until the Spanish reconquered the Southern part of Spain. By then it gave room to pray for 30,000 believers. Around 900 arches carried the weight of the ceiling of the mosque. Everywhere you look you see these arches, however, none of them is exactly the same nor made out of the same material.

The contrast of Islamic and Christian elements

Christian and Islamic art unified

The Spanish transformed the mosque into a cathedral and demolished the centre of the mosque and built a gothic and baroque style cathedral. Coming closer to the centre the arches slightly change and little angles decorate the arches. While the Islamic part of the building is a bit darker, a bright light shines in the cathedral part. Take your time, sit down and let your eyes wander and discover the marvelous details of the architecture.  Instantly, you forget that you actually are in the centre of a former mosque. This severe contrast impressed us even hours later after we left the building.

On the southern side of the mosque-cathedral, the art richest part of the mosque can be seen. Impressing Arabic epigraphs can be found saying “Allah is great”. This fine artwork captured our views for minutes. It is so beautiful, that your amazement makes you stop taking photos of it and leaves you speechless.

We do recommend to join a guided tour and explore the mosque-cathedral afterwards by yourselves. We joined a tour and it was absolutely worth it because our enthusiastic guide shared a lot of information with us and often gave us information we would have never received without a guided tour.

Alcazar de los Reyes
There is more than just a mosque

Although the mosque-cathedral is undeniably the highlight of a visit in Cordoba, there is more to see. The old roman bridge is within close distance of the mosque-cathedral. While crossing the Guadalquivir, do not forget to turn around and have a look at the marvelous facades of the city and the gate.  Also worth a visit is the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, a beautiful old fort and garden with fountains.  Not to forget to mention, are the copper-stoned narrow roads in the old town of the city. Explore it by yourself and you will get wonderfully lost in these picturesque roads. Neat little cafes and restaurants invite with refreshments and the typical Andalucian tapas.


13 thoughts on “Córdoba – once the most cultural city of Western Europe

  1. I haven’t really been inside a mosque but this one is huge! The interior is amazing as well. One of the biggest building is a mosque? That’s awesome. Hope I get to visit a mosque some day. Is it only exclusive to Muslims?

  2. The mosque- cathedral is so beautiful, the walls have very detailed art work. I would like to visit to Cordoba, will spend hours to look at this beautiful place. Your post has actually made me feel the place. You are an amazing writer. Will keep reading more of your journeys.

  3. That is just wow! How a mosque turned cathedral and the influence of two different religion built up a majestic structure. The details really popped out. That was very interesting to have arches made in totally different styles and material. The Arabic art on the ceilings were intricately made. I guess everything is perfect, worth the visit. 🙂

  4. I would love to go to Cordoba! I have been to Spain a couple of times, but never the formerly Islamic part. And I think that the Islamic architecture is so beautiful, just like Morocco. Thanks for the tip to take the guided tour. I will definitely do that when I go.

  5. In general, Europe is one of my bucket list. I would love to see the country as a whole. I didn’t expect that mosque are great like that. We also have wonderful church architecture here in the Philippines.

  6. I loved the part where Muslim and Christian art mix. It shows that there can be peace amidst the differences. Although I know there is a place in Spain bearing my middle name, Alcazar, I am still in awe whenever I read about these places just like Alcazar de los Reyes. I agree, having a guided tour is better. It may require a little more money but the experience is always worthwhile.

  7. I love to travel to enjoy local culture & people of different countries. This is a very beautiful unique cathedral mosque. Impressed that it’s combine by 2 religious . Really wish I can personally visit it to enjoy the beauty of it. Impressed with the beautiful art on it too. Cheers, SiennyLovesDrawing

Leave a Reply