I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Córdoba looks like any other Spanish city. Today, it does. But if we go back to when the Romans conquered, say to 206 BC (yup, so far back that even Jesus wasn’t around!) it was the capital of Hispania Ulterior (Roman Republic). It held many other fancy titles too; capital of the Hispania Baetica (Roman Empire), capital of Emirate (Islamic Independent state) and after some Islamic expansion across the Iberian peninsula it became capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba (Islamic Iberia state). You can imagine the wealth it held throughout. Though, I’m sure you can also imagine the dramatic changes one would have seen with each new wave of conquerors as each reigned with their own belief systems, rules of governance, traditions and way of life. Yet in today’s world, what makes Córdoba special is that you can see the remains of each of these civilizations all in one landmark; the city’s Mezquita-Catedral. That is, the Mosque-Cathedral. Here’s why..
BRIEF HISTORY OF MESQUITA-CATEDRAL
- In 206 BC, the Romans called Córdoba home. They built a Temple on site.
- In the 600s, the Visigoths ruled. They demolished it and erected a Visigoth Catholic church
- In 711, after the Islamic conquest, 50% of the structure was converted into a mosque (it was a shared place of worship for both Muslims and Christians – quite a nice concept, really!)
- Abd al-Rahman I, founder of Spain’s Muslim dynasty, made a deal to purchase the Christian half. He then demolished it, and in 784 started to build the ‘great mosque’ he had in mind.
- In 1236, the rule of Islam fell to the Catholic King Ferdinand III. They converted the mosque into a Roman Catholic church. They didn’t demolish it, but they did give it a bit of a Catholic makeover, adding a nave in the 16th century.
Apart from Córdoba’s impressive list of conquerors, what shocked me the most was finding out that when each ruler “conquered” a site, they would use the leftover materials from whatever structure they demolished, to build a new one. Those scavengers!
So, look carefully as you follow us through this majestic cathedral-mosque and take note of the recycled columns from the Roman and Visigoth days, the Islamic arches and inscriptions from the reign of Islam, and the Catholic naves that appeared after the Reconquista.
It was magical to see in the flesh. Like a living history book of Spain’s rulers all under one roof.
♥ This is what we saw..
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