In our series, we introduce beautiful mosques from different countries. This time, we will explore the mosques of Spain.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba
The Great Mosque of Cordoba, the most recognized work of Andalusian religious architecture, was started by I. Abdurrahman, the founder of the Andalusian Islamic State, in the year 786. Although it took 10 years to build, additions and changes continued until the year 990. Great care was taken in the construction of the mosque, and valuable wood from Lebanon and high-quality marble from the East were imported. With subsequent additions, the mosque’s dimensions reached 178x125m externally, with 19 courtyards and 1,293 columns.
Being one of the largest mosques in the Islamic world based on these measurements, the Great Mosque of Cordoba ranks third in terms of size, following the Samarra Great Mosque and the Abu Dulef Mosque. The pillars of this unique mosque, which has the most columns in the world, are supported by arches made of bricks and white stones. The mihrab and minbar, covered with richly decorated domes, are among the most beautiful parts of the mosque. The Great Mosque of Cordoba, with its extraordinary architecture and ornamentation, showcases the magnificence of the era in which it was built.
After being conquered by the Kingdom of Castile in 1236, the Great Mosque of Cordoba was converted into a Catholic church and later transformed into a cathedral. In the 16th century, the mosque was damaged, and a basilica-style domed church was built in the center. The original structure of the mosque was damaged, and a significant portion of the minaret was demolished to make way for a bell tower.
The building, now known as the “Cordoba Cathedral-Mosque,” has been open for Catholic worship for many years. It stands out as a tourist attraction due to its combination of various architectural styles, reflecting the art of the Islamic period, and its magnificent views. Recognized as a national monument in 1882, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984.
Seville Great Mosque (Ishbiliya Grand Mosque)
The Seville Great Mosque, also known as the Mosque of the Almohads, was built in 1171 at the location of the present-day Seville Cathedral, under the orders of Abu Ya’qub Yusuf due to the inadequacy of the existing mosque in Ishbiliya (Seville). The mosque had a rectangular plan, and its northern side featured a porticoed courtyard. The largest entrance gate of the courtyard, known as “Puerta del Perdón,” is still preserved. An earthquake in 1356 caused significant damage to the mosque, and most of the structure was destroyed, except for the minaret and the courtyard known as “Patio de los Naranjos.”
When Seville was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1248, the Seville Great Mosque was transformed into a cathedral. It served as a cathedral for approximately two centuries, until 1434, when the main structure of the mosque was completely demolished to make way for the construction of the Seville Cathedral. The minaret, a legacy of the Seville Great Mosque, was converted into a bell tower and incorporated into the cathedral in 1507. The building is now known as the “Giralda,” or “Wind Vane,” due to the addition of a rotating statue at its pinnacle.
Christ of the Light Mosque (Mosque of Bab Mardum)
Located in the city of Toledo, Spain, the Christ of the Light Mosque was built in the year 999 during the heyday of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba. Before it was converted into a church in 1085, it was known as the “Bab Mardum Mosque” in reference to its location near the city gate. One of the ten mosques built in Toledo during the period of Al-Andalus, this mosque has remained largely unchanged throughout its history.
The southwestern façade features an inscription that provides detailed information about the construction of the mosque:
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Ahmed ibn Hadidi, with his own funds, constructed this mosque and requested a reward in heaven from Allah. With the help of Allah, under the supervision of the architects Musa ibn Ali and Sa’ada, the construction was completed in the year 390 of the Islamic calendar during the month of Muharram.”
Built using bricks and small stones in accordance with the local tradition of the time, the mosque has a square plan, divided into nine sections by four internal columns and twelve external piers. Each section features a unique dome design. Despite its smaller size compared to the Great Mosque of Cordoba, this mosque is significant as one of the oldest examples of Islamic culture in Spain.
Almonaster la Real Mosque
The Almonaster Mosque is located within the castle on a hill overlooking the village of Almonaster la Real in the province of Huelva, Spain. It was built in the 10th century during the reign of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, replacing an ancient Visigothic basilica from the 5th century. The mosque consists of three sections: the prayer hall, a courtyard, and a minaret. The prayer hall has five small naves, and the central nave is covered with a hemispherical dome and brick arches. Although the mihrab is still standing, its paint has faded over the years, leaving only the brick and stone structure visible. Much of the minaret has been reconstructed through subsequent additions.
After the Christian conquest, the Almonaster Mosque was converted into a church. Despite the addition of Christian elements and various changes over the years, the structure has preserved its Maghrebi character to this day. In 1931, it was declared a National Monument due to its historical significance and architectural value.
Madrid Central Mosque
Located in the Tetuán district of Madrid, also known as the Abu Bakr Mosque, the Madrid Central Mosque was completed and opened for worship in 1988 through years of individual donation campaigns. This mosque is significant as the first mosque in the capital since the end of Islamic rule in 1085. Designed by architect Juan Mora, the Madrid Central Mosque serves as the headquarters for the Spanish Union of Islamic Communities and the Madrid Islamic Community.
The mosque building, consisting of four floors, houses various institutions such as classrooms, a library, and a nursery. As a result, the Madrid Central Mosque is not only a place of worship but also a central hub for the region’s Muslims, providing assistance, education, cultural activities, and a sense of unity.