The Mezquita underwent major extensions during a period of over two-hundred years.
It was the first Islamic monument built in the al-Andalus and was the introduction of islamic art and architecture
. The Mosque's unique identifying features...
Phase One Emir Abd ar-Rahman 1
Phase Two:-Abd-ar-Rahman 11
Phase Three : Abd-ar-Rahman 111
Phase Four: Caliph al-Hakim 11
...were approved by Emir Abd ar-Rahman 1.The concept of the double-tiered, voussoir-arch characteristics were never altered. The Mezquita, from the moment of its conception was 'A Perfect Work of Art.'
Emir Abd ar-Rahman 1, himself, may well have designed many parts of the Mosque, if not all of it. The Emir's intense interest and endeavour, repeated and improved, past Umayyad architecture details, adding his particular Hallmark in the patronage of Caliphal Architecture in Moorish Spain.
The Unique Features of Cordoba Mosque
A Wider Aisle centre of the Mihrab
In constrast to Damascus's (Umayyad-style) Mosque.
Cordoba's Mosque aisles were cut towards the Qiblah.
In Damascus: they were parallel to the Qiblah.
Similar to the wider central aisle, in a church, the Mezquita has a wider aisle approaching the Mihrab.
Sadly, what you perceive today has no bearing on what the Caliphs created. The equal symmetry between the floor and the ceiling were/are indispensable factors in creating the impression of endless space.
The mosque's architecture was based on symmetry and reflecting symmetry. No matter where you stand, you will see a mirror reflection, especially, in the aisle approaching the Mihrab.
Interior lighting between the columns was daylight. It flooded in through some central cupolas. The exterior openings were blocked by the Christians, not considered important for the Cordova Mosque.
Those exits now hold 52 small chapels dedicated to Christian themes. These chapels symbolize 52 weeks in the year. The Great Mosque had 365 bays, as days in the year.
Al-Mansur's extension darkened the interior and finally the Mezquita required the use of upside-down hung lanterns illuminating the interior.
Emir Abd-ar-Rahman 11 (822 to 852 AD)
The al-Andalus during this period was flourishing
- Elaborate irrigation systems produced an increased wealth in the al-Andalusi society
- The Minting of coinage (pure gold Dinars were the currency) was brought to Cordoba
- Cordova vyed en-par with the Damascene degree of economy and civilization cleverness
- Visiting dignitaries travelled to Cordoba from as far as Byzantium
The Emir Abd-ar-Rahman 11 extended the Mezquita by eight new aisles. Sadly, his contribution, disappeared beneath the Christian Cathedral.
Cordoba Mosque, during this period, acquired some sacred objects. An original Koran and an arm bone of the Prohet Mohammed.
The Mezquita became sacrosanct for al-Andalus pilgrims. Some worshippers could not travel to Mecca for their Hadj pilgrimage. Cordoba's Great Mosque symbolized an equal Hadj substitute.
Abd-ar-Rahman 111 (912 to 966 AD)
Emir Abd-ar-Rahman 111 assumed leadership at the age of 23, after his Grandfather killed his father. Internal strife the cause of this murderous action.
The reign of Abd-ar-Rahman 111 was the height of the Cordovan Golden Age in al-Andalus
His dramatic family backdrop set the scene:
Enemies were crushed
- Agricultural success achieved enormous rewards
- Monuments became immortalised: innovative ideas were standard
Infidels suffered in the extreme. Eventually, no opposers were left in al-Andalus during his reign.
Everyone 'chose to live in peace' rather than oppose him. His kingdom flourished.
Emir Abd-ar-Rahman 111 intiated Cordoba's University, inside, The Great Mosque. He did not do any extension work 'within' Cordoba Mosque.
However, He Built His Own Aljama Mosque
During the construction of the fabulous Medina Azahara
:a splendiferous Royal complex, a palatial mosque was also incorporated during its construction.
The work he did do to Cordoba's Great Mosque
- the Sahn was extended
- The edges of the Patio were covered in six-metre-wide arcades, known as the Riwaq (roofed galleries surrounding the courtyard)
The Riwaq Area of the Patio de los Naranjos
Details of a hand-carved Umayyad Beam in the Riwaq area of Cordoba Mosque, (beside the Tickets office).
Suberb relics of the original Umayyan beams that upheld the Mezquita are exposed on the Riwaq's walls. On the 7th October 2008, five of these exquisite larch beams were sold in Christie's for over 1.75 million US$.
The Minaret was rebuilt
'Abd ar-Rahman 111's' Minaret set a precendent to all future Minarets
Abd-ar-Rahman 111's new Minaret was much higher - over forty-eight metres. Three hefty, spectacular spheres crowned it: pomegranite-shaped. Two silver, one gold. Each weighed over a ton. His Minaret, however, did not survive time.
Cordoba Mosque Minaret
alongside is The Door of Pardons
(Above the Minaret, is Archangel Raphael, present in every Cordoban monument. He is Cordoba's Guardian Angel, credited with ridding the city of the Black Plague, in 1651.)
Caliph al-Hakim 11 (961 to 976 AD)
al Hakim 11 was the most learned and religiously reverent Caliph
By the time, he ascended the throne, Caliph al-Hakim 11 had had enormous experience, supervising, the construction and ornamentation of Madinat az-Zahra, (or otherwise, more popularly known as, Medina Azahara: the new royal city).
The first royal task the prince undertook was to enlarge the Mezquita in order to cope with the swelling popluace of Cordova.
Repeating Historic Events
250 years previously, the Umayyadans had sought Christian guidance over monumental decor. al-Hakim 11 was no exception. He petitioned Christian Emperor Nicephrous 11 Phocas's help.
A Priceless Gift
The Emperor responded lavishly.
Mihrab Cordoba Mosque
Islamic-Syrian architecture, Byzantinium artwork and Hispano craftmanship,
created the infinite details, of the Cordoba Mosques's structural and decorative success.
Over 320 quintales: or 150 tonnes of dazzling gold-leafed mosaic-pieces were sent to al-Hakim 11. A master builder accompanied the cargo, his role was to train local Cordovan artisans in the art of Byzantian Mosaic Embellishment
None of the Materials used in the Mezquita's Extension were Pillaged
al-Hakim 11 utilized local workmanship to create new columns and capitals for the Mezquita. The training undertaken during his reign set a precedent for quality in Mezquita History. His amalgamation of Byzantium artisan expertise, along with Damascene Art and Architecture, also competed with current-day Baghdad Abassidian-style, combined with what local handicraftsman created. This led to...
Hispano-Moorish Art and Architecture
The Mihrab concept
: originated from Roman Times. Specific alcoves were created by Roman families in their homes. That particular space was dedicated for worshiping their various Gods.
Christians built their churches in, an East-West direction. The Christian concept of God - is that God is Everywhere. Inside a church the altar faces East. The "East" for Christians, signifies spiritual perception. Christians are buried facing East.
Islamic purposes for a Mihrab.
- The Mihrab was always built orientated towards the Kaaba, enhancing correct prayer-direction (facts about the prophet muhammad)
- Its particular shape caused an increased cadence of the Imam's words
The Mezquita's History of Exquiste Beauty was achieved by Caliph al-Hakim 11
It is hard to describe the sheer excellence of al-Hakim 11's Maqsurah and Mihrab of The Great Mosque in Cordoba.
The Mihrab, during his reign, transformed from a Mecca-orientated inbuilt hollow - to something utterly magnificent.
A large block of marble was carefully carved into undulating waves, representing a scallop shell. This particular structure epitomized the word of The Koran. The shell signified: The Source of Life.
Thereafter, a scallop shell was always incorporated into any future Mihrab's decor.
- The scalloped shell also has meaning for the Christian faith and is associated with the Virgin Mary.
- Water poured during a baptism, its vessel, a scallop shell.
- The scallop shell also has many associations with water and the early existence of the planet
Delicate Multi-Lobular Arches
Approaching the Mihrab are three aisles of spectacular multi-lobular arches.
They seem delicate and graceful, yet, are far stronger than the double-tiered arches appear.
Their stone lattice work is uniquely identified with Umayyan Caliphal architecture.
Exquisite marquetry, features, a myriad of golden stars and figures on these ceilings.
Any similarity comparable to the Mezquita's exquisite quality was only Santa Sophia. Local artisan excellence and the imparted Byzantium knowledge became a hallmark of al-Hakim 11's role in the development of the Cordoba Mosque.
General Al-Mansur appropriated Hisham 11's under-age Caliphal powers in 981. His monocracy was disputed by religious leaders. In order to appease their anxious disquiet, Al-Mansur responded by enlarging the Cordoba Mosque.
He widened the Mezquita eastwards. Al-Mansur's extension is clearly divisble in comparison to the real Caliphs' patronage. Limestone voussoirs replaced the brick and stone original alternating colours. His voussoirs have their red and white painted on.
Seven New Exterior Doors Were Added
Twin horse-shoe arches were his only contribution he made to the design. He did not spare expense in his efforts. The Caliphs rendered the Cordoba Mosque (during their extensions) with Syrian-Islamic Art and Architecture features - Al-Mansur did not.
One of al-Hakim's interior doors remains after his extension, the doorway known as the "Chocolate Door."
The Door of Palms: La Mezquita de Cordoba.
Originally, when Abd-ar-Rahman 1 first built the Mezquita,
you would have entered through this door.
1. Door of Pardons
2. Ablution Pond
3. Patio de los Naranjos - Orange Courtyard
4. Door of Palms
5. Abd ar-Rahman 1's Naves, constructed over the San Vicente Basilica
6. Abd ar-Rahman 11's Expansion (Cordoba Cathedral is centre-part)
7. Al-Hakim 11 Expansion
9. Chapel of Sta Teresa and Treasury