Tradition has it that on the site of the present-day Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba there was originally a Christian church dedicated to Saint Vincent the Martyr, which was divided and shared between Christians and Muslims after the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. As the Islamic population grew, the Amir Abderraman I decided in 785 to buy the entire structure and demolish it in order to build the new mosque; in exchange, he allowed the Christians to rebuild other ruined churches, including those of the martyrs Saint Faustus, Januarius and Martial, who enjoyed great devotion at the time.
The historicity of these events has been disputed, as archaeological evidence is scarce and cannot be verified by events after Abderraman's arrival on the peninsula. The account of the church being converted into a mosque, which is developed by the 10th-century historian al-Razi, harbours many similarities with the Muslim conquest of Syria, in particular with the construction of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. For medieval historians, these parallels served to glorify the Umayyad conquest of the peninsula and the appropriation of Visigothic Córdoba.1115 Another tenth-century source mentions a church that was erected in the centre of the mosque, without giving much more detail.15 A current archaeological exhibition at the Mosque-Cathedral shows fragments of a late-antique or Visigothic building excavated by the architect Félix Hernández in 1930, emphasising the Christian character of the monument.
The foundation mosque was built by Abderraman I, one of the last members of the Umayyad dynasty who had managed to escape from Damascus after the massacre of his family during the Abbasid Revolt and had defeated the Abbasid governor Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri in Córdoba, establishing the new independent Emirate in 756.
Construction of the mosque began in 785 and was completed in less than two years. This very short period of time may be due to the re-use of Roman and Visigothic (carrying material), especially columns and capitals. The architect is unknown, although Syrian (Umayyad), Visigothic and Roman influences have been noted in the design of the building. The masons probably included locals and Syrians of Syrian origin. According to tradition and some written sources, Abderraman was personally in charge of the project, although the extent to which he personally influenced the design of the mosque has been debated.
The qibla walls of mosques should theoretically be oriented towards Mecca; however, the Mosque of Córdoba faces south, while Mecca faces southeast.3233 This orientation, unlike the mosques of today, is due to historical differences of opinion about the proper direction of the qibla wall in more distant Islamic places such as al-Andalus and Morocco.
Amir Hisham I completed the unfinished work after the death of Abderraman I, finishing the courtyard or sahn and erecting the first minaret.2630 This early square minaret was later demolished by Abderraman III who built another, later partially demolished, the remains of which are believed to be embedded in the Christian bell tower of the cathedral. The foundations of the minaret of Hisham I were found in the Patio de los Naranjos by the archaeologist Félix Hernández in the 20th century, who marked its location on the pavement and it is visible today.
According to classical historiography, the growth of the city would have determined the need for an oratory (haram) with a larger capacity in order to accommodate more worshippers during Friday services, so Abderraman II decided to enlarge the mosque for the first time. Work began in 836 (although the years 833 and 848 are also mentioned) and was completed in 852 under the rule of Abderraman II's son, Muhammad I (r. 852-886).292630 The original quibla wall was demolished, the remains of which are still visible today in the form of large pillars, and the arcades were extended in eight more bays, with a total length of 24 m. The extension of the mosque was completed in 852 under the rule of Abderraman II's son Muhammad I (r. 852-886).
In 929 Abderraman III established the new Caliphate of Córdoba and consolidated the new Andalusian power in the region. As part of his various building projects, he enlarged the courtyard of the Great Mosque and demolished the first minaret and erected a new one beginning between 951-952.2630 The minaret was 47 m high and had a square base of 8.5 m on each side. The scholar Jonathan Bloom has suggested that Abderraman's construction of the minaret was seen as a symbol of the caliph's growing authority and an attempt to rival the Fatimid Caliphate to the east. Abderraman also reinforced the northern wall of the courtyard by adding another façade in front of the old one.
Coinciding with the splendour of the Caliphate, Al-Haken II (r. AH 961-976), who participated in his father's architectural projects, began the most innovative extension during his reign in AH 961. He demolished the old mihrab of Abderraman II, the remains of which are also visible today, and extended the prayer hall 45 m to the south by adding 12 bays to the original double-arched design. The central nave of the mosque was ennobled by the construction of a ribbed dome, now part of the Villaviciosa Chapel. A rectangular macsura was also created, topped with three ribbed domes around the new mihrab, presided over by single poly-lobed and interlaced arches, and the columns alternate pink shafts, made of red jasper from Cabra, and dark blues from the Sierra Morena of Córdoba.
Given the continuous demographic growth of Córdoba, the Hajib of the Caliph Hisham II, Almanzor, decided to carry out the third and last of the extensions to the mosque between 987-988.2629 His extension was the most extensive of those undertaken, affecting both the courtyard and the prayer hall, although it was not done to the south like the previous ones, due to the proximity of the Guadalquivir River, but to the east by 47.76 m, adding eight naves to the mosque, leaving the mihrab off-centre. Once again, the same double-arched design was repeated in the new construction, although the alternation of voussoirs is only chromatic and not of materials, since they are all made of limestone, although the red ones are painted with almagra.
After the collapse of the Caliphate of Córdoba at the beginning of the 11th century, no further additions were made to the mosque. The absence of authority had negative consequences for the temple, such as looting and damage during the fitna of al-Andalus.47 Cordoba also suffered a decline, although it remained an important cultural centre. Under the Almoravids, Cordoban craftsmen's workshops were contracted to create richly decorated mimbars for important mosques in Morocco, the most famous being the mimbar of Ali Ibn Yusuf in 1137, which was inspired by Alhaken II's mimbar of the Great Mosque.
After the Castilian conquest of Córdoba in 1236, Ferdinand III of Castile converted the mosque into a cathedral and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, undergoing various alterations that would eventually shape the present-day Córdoba Cathedral. The first mass was celebrated on 29 June of that year. According to Bishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, Ferdinand III also returned the old bells of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which had been taken by Almanzor, to that city as a symbolic act.
However, the greatest break with the Islamic building occurred during the 16th century, when a large Christian nave was built in the middle of the old mosque, forming the new Main Chapel, under the artistic and architectural auspices of the Renaissance; this represented a serious break with Islamic spatial postulates. Bishop Alonso Manrique's proposal was controversial and met with opposition from the Cordoba municipal council. In the end, Emperor Charles V interceded so that the work could be carried out, although he later regretted it, as Bernardo de Alderete famously said, "you have destroyed what was unique in the world, and you have put in its place what can be seen everywhere".
In 1816 the original mihrab of the mosque was uncovered after the removal of the altarpiece from the former chapel of St Peter. Patricio Furriel was responsible for restoring the Islamic mosaics of the mihrab, including the areas that had been lost. Restorations were also carried out on the old structure of the mosque between 1879 and 1923 under the direction of Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, who, among other things, removed the Baroque elements that had been added to the Villaviciosa chapel and uncovered the previous structures. During this period, in 1882, the temple was declared a National Monument. Subsequently, archaeological excavations were carried out in the prayer room and in the courtyard of the Orange Trees by Félix Hérnandez between 1931 and 1936. Later scholars have noted that these restorations from the 19th century onwards focused on recovering the Islamic architectural elements, because, from the 19th century onwards, Spain made great efforts to study and recover its Andalusian monumentsArticle obtained from Wikipedia article Wikipedia in his version of 01/07/2022, by various authors under the license Licencia de Documentación Libre GNU.