La Mezquita, the Great Mosque of Cordoba and a few of its 856 columns. Photo by Timor Espallargas.
Córdoba is a charming little old city in southern Spain’s Andalusia region that has seen a remarkable number of religious changes over the last 2, 000 years, from Roman to Visigoth to Islamic and finally Christian, with remnants of these cultures still to be found around the town. The main attraction is this spectacular structure, La Mezquita.
The mosque’s domed ceiling of Byzantine mosaics in the mihrab. Photo by Ruggero Poggianella.
The site of La Mezquita was originally a Roman temple, replaced by a Christian Visigoth church, bought by Moorish rulers and built over as a mosque from 784 – 987. Many of the column pieces used were recovered from the Roman temple.
When King Ferdinand recaptured Córdoba in 1236 he began converting the mosque into a church. It is now officially the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, though few tourists will recognise the name.
The west wall of the Mosque of Cordoba. Photo by Hameryko.
The entire centre of Cordoba, Andalucia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Puente Romano over the Guadalquivir River. The Great Mosque is distant right. Photo by Tomas Fano.
The first evidence of settled, developed life in Córdoba is of the empire of Carthage, a short reign around 220 BC (they called the place Kartuba) only to be rudely interrupted by the Romans in 206 BC when they conquered the town, occupying it for hundreds of years before the the Visigoths wandered in, followed shortly after by Muslim Berbers in 711. Today the town layout is basically Roman even if the biggest sight is Islamic.