BRIEF GUIDE TO THE MOSQUE CATHEDRAL OF CORDOBA:The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba- according to F. Chueca-, is the first monument of all western Islam and one of the most impressive in the world. It sums up in its archeological history the complete evolution of the Omeya style in Spain, i. e., the Sapnish-Moslem style at the time of its highest splendor. Its influence in all teh arabized West was vital and its developements became law in a vast artisical area. The building, as it is today, is the result of an initial Mosque built by Abderraman I on the site and with the materials of the Catholic Basílica of Saint Vincent, enlarged later on by Abderraman II, Alhaken II and Almanzor. The Cathedral Transept was built in XVI century over parts of enlargements by Abderraman II and Almanzor. The main parts of the building are the old alminar or the tower, the patio and the prayers hall.
The Alminar And The Tower: The alminar of the original Mosque is actually inside the current tower. It was built by Abderraman III, substituting the one built by Hixem I in 931, after demolishing the old one and enlarging the patio. The current tower construction began at the end of XVI century and was finished in the following century.
The Orange-Trees Patio: The original patio was enlarged by both Abderraman III and Almanzor in the X century. The current cloisters are the result of a total remodelling carried out in the first decades of the XVI century by Bishop Martín Fernández de Angulo under the direction of architect Hernán Ruiz I. Underneath the orange-trees patio there is a water tank which provided the necessary water for Moslim ablutions. There were palm-trees in the patio as early as the XIII century and we know of the existence of orange-trees there since century.
The Prayers Hall: Possibly in year 780, Abderraman I (756-788) began the building of the first Mosque on the site of the Christian Basilica of Saint Vincent and using quite a lot of its materials, ending it about seven years later. His son Hixen I built the alminar(788-796). This first Mosque, of eleven aisles, due to the origins of its materials, Keeps the spirit of the old Helenistic Mediterranean culture. We must point out the variety of its columns and capitals, good example of all the Greek-Roman, Egyptian and Visigothic styles. A plaster was set up over the columns to achieve the desired height with the superposed arcadewith dovels of stone and brick. Springing off from the west aisle there are some Christian chapels among which stands out the chapel dedicated to the Inmaculate Conception, of XVII century.The wood-carved ceiling of the central aisle was restored in 1919 and the balance of wood-carved ceilings were restored in 1975-79 with pinewood from Canada.Under Abderraman II (821-852) the town enjoyed peace and prosperity, becoming the great town which is described in the Moslim chronicles. In the year 833 he added seven more sections to the Mosque of Abderraman I, enlargin it considerabily towards the South. Old columns, mostly Visigothic, were placed with no base. The first Arab capitals made in the workshops of those days, following Corintian models can be seen here.
Alhaken II (961-976) enlarged again very quickly his ancestors`Mosque. This enlargement consisted by lengthening the prayers hall in twelve sections. The Abderraman I style of arcades was used in this enlargement. The dome of the old chapel of Villaviciosa as well as the one preceding the Mihrab stand out as they are covered with rich mosaics. Columns and capitals were specially elaborated for this work.Corinthian and mixed capitals as well as blue and pink marble fusts in termingle. The luxurious decoration is concentrated in the Mihrab chapel, with the relevant mosaics on the walls. The inside of the Mihrab is covered with and enormous shell of gypsum plaster of great decorative value. Inscriptions, praising the caliph, date this work to 965.
The enlargement of Almanzor, carried out between 987 and 990, was the last and biggest of all, not adding to the building any architectonic novelty. Due to the proximity of River Guadalquivir, it was made towards the East and because of this, the Mihrab lost its center position. The enlargement of Almanzor, (as it written) was above all an ostentation, made for political purposes in order to strengthen his personal power. On the S.E. corner we can see the parish church of The Sagrario with murals by the Italian Cesar Arbasia of the XVI century.
The Cathedral transept: The works began in 1523 by order of Bishop Alonso Manrique, with the opposition of the Cathedral Council and the whole town. This is a work in which all the styles of XVI and XVII and XVIII centuries are united: Spanish-Flemish arcades and vaults, Renaissance dome, Choir dome and High Altar of a proto-barroque style. It was finished at the beginning of XVII century, and was made under the direction of Hernán Ruiz I, Hernán Ruiz II, Hernán Ruiz III and Juan de Ochoa, architects fro Córdoba. The choir stalls in mahogany were made by the Sevillan wood carver Duque Cornejo in the XVIII century. The paintings of the altar are by A. Palomino.
The Cathedral Treasure. It exhibits works made from XV till XX centuries, most of them by craftsmen from Córdoba. Some magnificient Italian pieces of art stand out as well. The entrance is through the chapel of Saint Teresa also known as the chapel of the Cardinal, built by the great Baroque architect Francisco Hurtado Izquierdo. The most impressive and magnificent exhibit is the monstrance for the processions in the Corpus Christi day, made by a german glodsmith, Enrique de Arfe, petitioned by Bishop Martín Fernández de Angulo between 1510-1516. It went out for the first time in Procession in 1519. Professor Sánchez Cantón stated that this is perhaps, the most beautiful monstrance in Spain. It was restored and enlarged in 1616, 1735, 1784 and 1967. You can also see two reliquaries of XV century, one of them called of Saint Bartolomé, with a natural cristal cup and Gothic motifs, and the other one of Santa Ursula, which represents the head of the Saint, given to the Cathedral by Bi-shop Fernando González Deza at the beginning of XV century. There is an important chiseled silver holy-waterpot beatifully worked in a cratera shape with episcopal shields and the dates 1561 and 1562. Finally you can stop before the processional crosses, one of them attributed to Enrique Arfe, and before the magnificent ivory crucified Christ, splendid work of the Spanish Baroque.
Visigothic Museum of St. Vicent: Situated in the extension made by Alhaken II; on display are the archeological rameins found between 1931 and 1935 on the site occupied by the old christian basilica of St. Vicent the martyr. It was built in the 6th century, and the original mosque was later erected there. The most interesting pieces include an altar piece and support, an outstanding ionic capital from the 1st century, a fragment of a sarcophagus from around 335 and a font, all with characteristic christian symbols.