Mosque of Cordoba
The Cathedral and former Great Mosque of Cordoba, in ecclesiastical terms the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (English: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption), and known by the inhabitants of Cordoba as the Mezquita-Catedral (Mosque¨CCathedral), is today a World Heritage Site and the cathedral of the Diocese of Cordoba. It is located in the Andalusian city of Cordoba, Spain.
The site was originally a pagan temple, then a Visigothic Christian church, before the Umayyad Moors at first converted the building into a mosque and then built a new mosque on the site. After the Spanish Reconquista, it once again became a Roman Catholic church, with a plateresque cathedral later inserted into the centre of the large Moorish building. The Mezquita is regarded as the one of the most accomplished monuments of Islamic architecture. It was described by the poet Muhammad Iqbal: "Sacred for lovers of art, you are the glory of faith, You have made Andalusia pure as a holy land!"
Since the early 2000s, Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic church to allow them to pray in the cathedral.The Muslim campaign has been rejected on multiple occasions, by both Spanish Catholic authorities, and the Vatican.In 2010 there was a violent incident over the matter.
Design:The Great Mosque of Cordoba held a place of importance amongst the Islamic community of al-Andalus for three centuries. In Cordoba, the capital, the Great Mosque was seen as the heart and central focus. Muhammad Iqbal described its hypostyle hall as having "countless pillars like rows of palm trees in the oases of Syria". To the people of al-Andalus "the beauty of the mosque was so dazzling that it defied any description."
The main hall of the mosque was used for a variety of purposes. It served as a central hall for teaching and to manage law and order within al-Andalus during the rule of Abd ar-Rahman.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba exhibited features, and an architectural appearance, similar to the Great Mosque of Damascus, therefore it is evident that it was used as a model by Abd ar-Rahman for the creation of the Great Mosque in Cordoba.
Features: The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple which had occupied the site previously, as well as other destroyed Roman buildings, such as the Merida amphitheatre. The double arches were a new introduction to architecture, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch. The famous alternating red and white voussoirs of the arches were inspired by those in the Dome of the Rock. and also resemble those of the Aachen Cathedral, which were built almost at the same time. A centrally located honey-combed dome has blue tiles decorated with stars.
The mosque also has richly gilded prayer niches. The mihrab is a masterpiece of architectural art, with geometric and flowing designs of plants. Other prominent features were: an open court (sahn) surrounded by arcades, screens of wood, minarets, colourful mosaics, and windows of coloured glass. The walls of the mosque had Quranic inscriptions written on them.
Layout:The mosque's floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large in size, flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
One hundred fifty years following its creation, a staircase to the roof was added, along with a southward extension of the mosque itself. A bridge was built linking the prayer hall with the Caliph's palace. The mosque was later expanded even further south, as was the courtyard which surrounded it. The mosque was built in four stages, with each Caliph and his elite contributing to it.
Until the eleventh century, the courtyard was unpaved earth with citrus and palm trees irrigated-at first by rainwater cisterns, and later by aqueduct. Excavation indicates the trees were planted in a pattern, with surface irrigation channels. The stone channels visible today are not original.