The Cordoba Mosque is a fascinating place, that witnessed the history of Spain like no other. Located in the heart of the old center of Cordoba, it is a must in Andalusia. Follow my guide and plan your visit to the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba!
History of the mosque-cathedral
In 572, the Visigoths took the city of Cordoba. It was in 584 that they decided to build a church there, on the site of an ancient Roman temple. Dedicated to San Vicente, you can still see a part of this basilica floor today.
The mosque of Abderrahmane I
From 756, Abderrahmane I conquered the city of Cordoba. He then became the first emir of Al Andalus. 30 years later, he started the construction of a mosque, the Aljama, on the site of San Vicente’s basilica. He reused the materials and bases of the previous buildings to build a mosque with 11 naves. This building is not oriented towards Mecca because it follows the foundations of the previous sanctuary.
The extensions of Abderrahmane II, Abderrahmane III and Almanzor
During the next 2 centuries, enlargements were made. Abderrahmane II enlarged the prayer hall between 833 and 848.
In 951, Abderrahmane III had the old minaret destroyed to build a new one. At a height of 40m, it is monumental and influenced the styles of other minarets such as those of Seville or Marrakech.
Finally in 991, Almanzor enlarged the mosque by adding 8 naves on the east side.
The city of Cordoba passed into the hands of the Catholics in 1236. The decided to reuse the mosque as a cathedral. The 19 doors that opened to the outside were closed, leaving only one, the Las Palmas door.
In the 14th century, rows of columns were cut down to make room for the Royal Chapel. Two additional chapels were also built in the eastern part of the building.
It was in the 16th century that a part located in the center of the building was destroyed to build a Gothic cathedral fully inserted into the mosque. Charles V, who gave the authorization, later regretted the transformation of the mosque by declaring: “You destroyed what we did not see anywhere to build what we see everywhere. “
The minaret which had become a bell tower since the Christian conquest was weakened by an earthquake in 1589. A new tower was then built including part of the remains of the minaret.
Visit the Mosque of Cordoba
The visit is in two parts, each of which requires an entry ticket: you can visit the mosque-cathedral, and/or the bell tower.
Patio de los Naranjos
First, you’ll pass by the patio of los Naranjos, the orange tree courtyard which was used for ritual ablutions prior to prayer in the mosque. It was planted with cypresses and palm trees from its creation, then orange and olive trees in the 18th century. Today, it has 98 orange trees. You can take a break there after your visit to the mosque. It is a cool place, bordered by galleries and traversed by irrigation canals that feed 3 fountains.
You’ll then enter the prayer hall of the mosque. Its space is punctuated by 850 columns of jasper, marble and granite surmounted by double arches that will make you feel like an endless forest of pillars. We can still clearly see the traces of the different eras of construction in this hall. The colors, the dimensions, the impression of rhythm inside the building are dazzling. Stop in front of the mihrab, which is adorned with magnificent mosaics of Byzantine tradition, marble and surmounted by a shell dome.
Then, you’ll head to the cathedral built inside the mosque. It is in the shape of a Latin cross, and its style is a mixture of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance style for the cupola. It’s a very special space, and the decor changes completely as soon as you pass the cathedral entrance. The place has many windows, which gives an impression of space. More than 30 chapels are to be seen in the mosque, some of which are remarkable. The primitive chapel of Villaviciosa in particular, and the chapel of the Tabernacle with its impressive program of murals.
Finally, it is possible to visit the bell tower which is on the place of the old minaret. With its 54 m high, it’s the tallest building in the city of Cordoba. The bell tower is an excellent place to admire the mosque-cathedral from another angle, but also to have a splendid panoramic view of the city.
Book your ticket for the Mosque of Cordoba
On site, the queue can sometimes be long to buy your tickets. To be sure to enter quickly, I advise you to buy your tickets in advance. You can buy them on the official website of the mosque-cathedral, or opt for a guided tour that will allow you to better understand the history of this place:
For the mosque-cathedral:
- General admission: € 10
- Reduced price for children from 10 to 14 years old and people with disabilities: 5 €
- Free entry for children under 10, people born or resident in Cordoba and for holders of the Andalucía Junta 65 card
Night visit: € 18
For the bell tower: 2 €
The visit is free from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 9:30 am. Try to arrive early to take full advantage of this hour, as you will be asked to leave a little earlier in order to vacate the place for the 9:30 am mass.
Opening hours of the mosque-cathedral
From March to October:
- Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Sunday and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and then from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
From November to February:
- Monday to Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sunday and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. then from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The bell tower can be visited every half hour:
9:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
You can also take a night tour of the mosque-cathedral, with a first visit at 8 p.m. and a second at 9:30 p.m.