Córdoba is a World Heritage Site known for the Great Mosque-Cathedral (Mezquita-Catedral) that dominates its skyline. This tremendous building has been known as a church, a mosque, and a church, again. We spent hours lost in its extraordinary beauty and its excesses, attempting to unravel the puzzle of the conqueror and the conquered.

The Great Mosque is a huge rectangle measuring 570′ X 449′.

The Romans were here first with a pagan temple. Then the Visigoths built a catholic church on the same site dedicated to San Vicente in the 7th century. In 711, seven thousand Berbers landed in Gibraltar and the Moorish invasion of Spain was on.  When the conquest was complete, Abderrahman I of the  Umayyad dynasty of Damascus built the Great Mosque in 758 on the site of the church and his successors continued to add to it for two centuries.

Córdoba became the vibrant capital of the independent Arab Muslim emirate of al-Andalus and the intellectual center for the study of astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and botany. The revered Rabbi, Philosopher and Physician, Moses Maimonides, was born in Córdoba on Passover Eve in 1135.

In 1236 Ferdinand III was the triumphant leader of the Catholic reconquista of Spain. Both Arabs and Jews were expelled from Córdoba. The Great Mosque was rededicated as the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption). By 1523, Charles V approved the plan for a huge cruciform Renaissance church inside the mosque and the construction continued on and off into the 18th century.

This is the junction where the mosque meets the church. As you move away from the domination of the church structure, you discover a whole universe of Islamic decorative motifs.

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The Cathedral is a world within a world. It competes against the Islamic motifs and the sea of 856 Islamic columns made of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite, to make its own strident and elaborately Catholic statement.

Lateral view of the church.
The Cathedral’s decorative ceiling.
St. Andrew’s chapel.
The Cathedral Treasury.
The Treasury.


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Out on the town in Córdoba.

Plaza of the Capuchins.

Don’t try driving a car in the center of Córdoba or you’ll be squashed like a bug.

There’s an abundance of these intense blue flower pots around the village.

After the Neanderthals, it was the Romans who first put Córdoba on the map. Of the five Roman emperors produced in Spain: Trajan, Hadrian, Theodosius, Honorius and Marcus Aurelius, it was the later who was born near Córdoba.   Under Augustus (27 BC – 14 AC),  Córdoba thrived as the biggest Roman city in  Spain. The Romans built aqueducts, and a huge, magnificent amphitheatre with a sophisticated system of sails to shade the audience, similarly to the Colosseum  in Rome.  Today, the intimate, fascinating Córdoba Archaeological Museum is built over the partially excavated theatre.

Our hotel was recommended by dear friends: Hospes Palacio del Bailio, Ramirez de las Casas Deza 10 – 12, 14001 Cordoba, Spain. It was romantic, charming and luxurious. It had a swimming pool, full spa, tranquil gardens and a lovely breakfast.

visit this website suggested by our friend Manuel Fuentes Losa for an interactive view of the entire Great Mosque/Cathedral of Córdoba:



  1. Your photos are fabulous! Your trip to this part of Spain made me think of a book I enjoyed when we did our trip there. If you would like an interesting read, try The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones. The story is fascinating and historically accurate. It takes place throughout Andalusia, especially the Alpujarra area, and spends a great deal of time centered on the Mezquita. Best, Lyn Gawron

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