Cathedral of Mezquita, Cordoba; History, Tour and Tickets
History of Cathedral in Mezquita
The history of Mezquita (Mosque) started in 774 BC but the history of Cathedral in Mezquita started in 13th century. Cordoba was captured from Moors in 1236, Mezquita was then dedicated to Christians but they did not do any architectural alterations to it. History states that Christians simply dedicated Mezquita to Virgin Mary and worshiped inside it.
In 1520s both the Bishop of the Cathedral (Bishop Manrique) and Carlos V (Charles V, King of Spain) took the decision to construct a cathedral inside the Great Mosque. The construction of the Cathedral of Cordoba was started under the direction of the Spanish architect Hernán Ruiz I and after his death by his son and grandson. Various small chapels have been added to Mezquita and once inside you really don’t know whether you are inside a church or mosque or both.
The Tour of Cathedral in Mezquita
The entire tour took around 2 hours. If you wish to linger on you always can do that too. The transition from Muslim part of Mezquita to Christian part is beautifully done. I suddenly crossed into so many contrasts. The most striking factor is the color. From a dark forest of red and white striped columns I stepped into bright white environ. Entire camera settings had to be changed. The ceiling seemed to reach the sky. The concept of prayers offered by Christians and Muslims is so evident here. While the Christians feel ‘close’ to God with these heights. Muslims feel ‘small’ in front of God!
The construction of Cathedral is vertical, while the Mosque is horizontal and covers a huge area. Usually Churches and Mosques both face eastwards (facing towards Jerusalem or Mecca), the Mosque here faces southwards. That is 90degrees to that of the Church inside. There is absolutely no match in the architectural styles and that is what makes it so unique. But at the end of the tour it was hard for me to say which place of worship looked more beautiful.
There is a display of ornate golden baroque religious iconography with Christ on the cross, plenty of relics and statues which emphasis on death and the hope of an afterlife. This is again in contrast with the interiors of mosque which does not allow for the artistic representation of the prophets, human or animal forms. It is more calligraphy I felt, which conveys messages from Koran.
Today when I see the inter religion bickering I feel this monument should be highlighted to the world. It is a supreme example of how the house of one religion shelters the faith of another religion. I tell my daughters how this building has the potential to attain religious peace in this world. May be there will come a day when people from different faiths are offering prayers together at the same time!
Where to Buy Tickets
Unlike Alhambra, where there is limited number of tickets, Mezquita, Cordoba has no dearth of tickets. We were there on a day trip from Seville and reached around 11AM. There were hardly 10 to 15 people ahead of us. I have not read a single instance where a tourist would have returned without being able to visit the interiors of Mezquita.
The ticket counter Timings
March – October
From 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday
From 8:30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. Sundays and feast days
November – February
From 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday
From 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. Sundays and feast days
10 to 14-year-children: 4euros
Below 10 years old: free
From Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., it could be possible to visit the Cathedral free, but individually and in silence. In this period of time group visit isnnt permitted.