The Mosque of Cordoba
There are moments in time when one has to come to a complete stop to just take in said moment because one finds oneself in a place of perfection; a place so extraordinarily inspiring it takes ones breath away. For us, that moment happened when we stepped inside the Mosque of Cordoba. Never before had we seen such a place, and most likely never will we again.
It’s hard to imagine such a place, right? A mosque with a cathedral smack dab in the middle of it. How could that be? We definitely found it hard to imagine so of course we were determined to see it for ourselves. It proved to be an easy day trip from Seville, which I will explain at the end of the post.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Known as the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the historical masterpiece originated as a basilica in the mid 6th century during the Christian period/control of the area. The construction of the mosque itself began in the 9th century and throughout the centuries the size grew in epic proportions. At it’s grandest scale, the mosque accommodated upwards of either 30,000 or 50,000 worshipers. I honestly don’t remember the exact number but needless to say the space is massive even it “only” accommodated 30,000.
Shared Faith and Space
It’s a bitter sweet story, the story of the mosque and cathedral, although I suppose it depends on your point of view. After five centuries in the Muslim period/control, the mosque was taken over and once again dedicated to Christianity in the year 1236 and has remained as such. The mosque is all kinds of fabulous. It’s a contradiction of architectural styles and philosophical convictions of faith, which makes it all the more fascinating. Had the Christians not built the cathedral in the center of the mosque, in the early 14th century, more than likely the mosque would have been razed during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, which of course would have been a tragic loss of historical proportions.
If the walls of the mosque could talk, what a story they would weave. One would like to believe that people and cultures of faith, in the truest form, can and should co-exist peacefully. But, it has yet to happen in the Mosque of Cordoba. The powers-to-be will not concede to a shared space of prayer and worship as the site is consecrated under Catholic doctrine. The decisions made in the name of God often leave one to wonder…why. Again, depending on the chosen point of view.
What is This Place?!
Regardless of chosen points of view and/or convictions of culture, faith and perspective, there is no room for doubt when it comes to the historical significance of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba and it’s role in the history of Spain. There is no room for doubt that the Mosque-Cathedral will continue to reveal its layers of controversy as those who wish to co-exist and worship peacefully side-by-side move forward in their quest. The mosque and the cathedral have stood within each other for centuries and it is fascinating in all contexts of conversation.
As we neared the end of our time in the mosque and made our way to the exit, I couldn’t help but overhear another couple who had just entered. The woman exclaimed in awe, “What is this place?!” I smiled and thought to myself, you have no idea what you’re about to experience.
If You Go:
- It’s an easy day trip by train to the Mosque of Cordoba from Seville, just a 45 minute ride.
- If possible purchase your train tickets ahead of time because last minute tickets cost more.
- We used our Eurail passes and paid 22 euros per person for the round trip because we waited until the day before.
- Trains run between Seville and Cordoba multiple times a day.
- Take a taxi from the train station in Cordoba to the mosque, the cost is only 5 – 6€ each way.
- We arrived at the mosque (August 2017) just before 11:00 a.m. and there was no line. You cannot buy tickets online (at least at the time of our visit) only at the mosque.
- Entrance tickets are 10€ each, (no senior discounts) plus 3.50€ for each audio guide. You have to leave an id in order to get an audio guide but it is not a problem. Audio guides are well-worth the cost.
- We spent 2 1/2 hours in the mosque there is so much to see and experience. Read some of the history of the mosque before visiting, it will help.
- If you don’t get the audio guide and don’t do any prior reading, you really won’t know what you’re looking at.
- The mosque is massive so even if it’s busy, you don’t feel crowded except for inside the actual cathedral because it’s a smaller space.
- Women do “not” have to wear a headscarf.
- There is a WC in the mosque.
- There are shops and cafes all around the mosque exterior so it’s very easy to find a place to sit and have a drink before/after your visit.
- The Roman Bridge of Cordoba is just behind the Mosque, very easy to access and worth a walk across.