What to do in Cordoba: Visit the Mosque-Cathedral
Since we only had two days in Cordoba, we chose three sights to visit - The Mezquita, The Alcazar Palace Gardens & Medina Azahara. I highly recommend to take a guided tour of the Mezquita - Cathedral of Cordoba (unless you have read everything about it!). The Mezquita (Spanish for “Mosque”) symbolizes the many religious changes Cordoba has undergone over the centuries and it stretches across 24,000 square meters! The guide talks you through the various eras and different features of the Mosque and it’s a fascinating tour (no more than an hour long).
The site on which the Mosque 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 Mezquita de Cordoba is most notable for its giant arches and its forest of over 856 (of an original 1,293) columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite. These were taken from the Roman temple which had previously occupied the site and other destroyed Roman buildings.
Although it does not fit in with the rest of the mosque, the 16th-century Baroque choir is an impressive sight to see, with an intricate ceiling and richly carved 18th-century choir stalls. Outside the Cathedral you’ll find the beautiful Courtyard of the Orange Trees and the Torre del Alminar, which is the minaret once used to summon the faithful to prayer, has a Baroque belfry.
More info about the Mezquita on their website:
The focal point in the prayer hall is the famous horseshoe arched mihrab or prayer niche. Gold tesserae—small pieces of glass with gold and color backing—create a dazzling combination of dark blues, reddish browns, yellows, and golds that form intricate calligraphic bands and vegetal motifs that adorn the arch.