‘So this is actually a Mosque yet also a Cathedral. That’s impressive!‘ I commented to my travel buddies as I looked up high at the steep walls showing a hint of the Minarets/Bell Towers peeking above. After exploring Cordoba on a Monday, Mezquita was actually the only site open to the public. An extraordinary achievement in Renaissance and Moorish architecture, this monument served as the seat of the capital Moorish empire, Al-Andalus, when it was back then referred to as The Grand Mosque of Cordoba. Used for teaching, prayers and even courtrooms of Sharia Law, this all ended when King Ferdinand III of Castile took Cordoba in the Spanish Reconquista. Therefore, the Grand Mosque of Cordoba was turned into a Cathedral within yet retained the architecture outside. Other than the Castle of the Christian Monarchs down the road, the Mezquita was truly the place to go sightseeing if you’re a visitor to the city in order to be enlightened.
‘So are we going into the Mosquito thingy?’ I said to Auston and David, momentarily forgetting the name of the place. Enlightened, I was truly not.
No, first, we have to appreciate how the Mezquita influences life in Cordoba. Just outside the 4 walls surrounding the calm oasis within, there are busy streets filled with roaring cars, yakking vendors and gypsies wanting to read your fortune. Sometimes the walls may offer respite to tired residents and perhaps a meeting place for young friends who want to duck and jive. Send in the pictures.
The circuit completed, maybe we should go into the Mosquito thingy. I still couldn’t remember the name even though there were signs aplenty about us clearly stating the name. Finding a grand entrance, we creeped in to the greenery that awaited us inside.
You may be astounded that upon entering, you will be thinking, ‘so where is the Cathedral?‘ There’s only the Courtyard inside full of trees, water fountains and wide-eyed tourists. Well, the Cathedral is actually within the walls or more specifically, sectioned off into small chapel rooms. We didn’t actually go inside the Cathedral mainly because we thought the entrance was fee was way overpriced and also you can’t move in Spain for Churches and Cathedrals, might as well go into a free one eh? But even so, the free entry into the Courtyard was pretty stunning. I think the Moors knows natural beauty when they see it.
A nice stroll through the courtyard, it certainly was. But it got me thinking, can these two religions live in harmony? Catholicism and Islam? The architecture certainly says yes and actually compliments each other. Preaching with some similar values of love and respect to each other, you would think that the Mezquita would be used as a meeting place for both Catholics and Muslims to come and pray.
Since the early 2000s, many Spanish Muslims have asked the Vatican for the right to pray in the Mezquita, which currently is in the hands of the Spanish Catholic Authorities. They have been rejected so many times and its aims are looking bleak. Even then, there was an incident in 2010, during Catholic Holy Week, when Austrian Muslims in a tour group knelt to pray at the same time and thus they were ejected from the premises causing a fight with the security guards and inflicting injuries.
If everyone could pray in harmony, there wouldn’t be any fights in the world. So even today in Cordoba, the centre of Al-Andalus and the Reconquesta, the Muslim and the Catholic couldn’t be so far apart.
What did you think of the Mezquita? Did you go inside the Cathedral?