The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, officially known by its ecclesiastical name, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Córdoba dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and located in the Spanish region of Andalusia. According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. The Great Mosque was constructed on the orders of Abd ar-Rahman I in 785 CE, when Córdoba was the capital of the Muslim-controlled region of Al-Andalus. It was expanded multiple times afterward under Abd ar-Rahman’s successors up to the late 10th century.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was expanded multiple times afterward under Abd ar-Rahman’s successors up to the late 10th century
The building itself was expanded over two hundred years. It is comprised of a large hypostyle prayer hall (hypostyle means, filled with columns), a courtyard with a fountain in the middle, an orange grove, a covered walkway circling the courtyard, and a minaret (a tower used to call the faithful to prayer) that is now encased in a squared, tapered bell tower. The expansive prayer hall seems magnified by its repeated geometry. It is built with recycled ancient Roman columns from which sprout a striking combination of two-tiered, symmetrical arches, formed of stone and red brick.
For ages, the Great Mosque of Córdoba has been revered by the Islamic population of al-Andalus. The Mosque was regarded as the city’s heart and focal center in Córdoba, the Umayyad capital. According to Muhammad Iqbal, its interior has “countless pillars like rows of palm trees in Syria’s oases.” The mosque-cathedral now measures 590 by 425 feet (180 m 130 m) after all of its historical extensions. The initial floor layout of the structure is based on the overall shape of some of the oldest mosques built in the early days of Islam. Some of its elements were modeled after the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, which was constructed before it.