Cordoba - Home to a massive cathedral-mosque (29 May)
Interesting Facts about Cordoba
FOOTFALLS ECHO AMONG HUNDREDS of Byzantine columns, as visitors wander under the red-and-white-striped arches they support. This is the mazelike interior of La Mezquita, a sprawling mosque turned Catholic cathedral. It is the gem of Córdoba, once a great city of medieval Europe and the Islamic capital of Spain from the eighth to the eleventh centuries, and now a smaller, quieter city than Granada. Like the Alhambra 109 miles (175 km) to the southeast, La Mezquita blends Moorish and Christian architecture. The original mosque was built on the site of a Christian church in A.D. 784, and over subsequent centuries, it was expanded until it doubled in size. It was converted into a Catholic church in 1235.
By decree from the same Carlos V whose palace dominates the center of the Alhambra, La Mezquita’s interior was replaced in the 16th century with a cathedral that still offers daily mass. In springtime, the fragrance from blossoms in the adjacent Patio de los Naranjos (the mosque’s former court of ablutions) wafts into the mosque-cathedral. And from atop the Torre Campanario, the 177-foot-tall (54 m) minaret turned bell tower, visitors have great views of the city’s historic downtown—settlement here dates to Roman rule in the second century B.C.