The riverfront of Cordoba used to house a Roman temple and after that, it was overbuilt to be used as a Visigoth church.
Then, the Visigoths split their church building to share the equally with their new neighbours, so that the Moors (Muslims) arriving from North Africa would have a mosque.
In the 8th century the shared structure became the property on the Muslims and the first Great Mosque - capacity 5,000 worshipers - was constructed on the site. Successive leaders expanded the Great Mosque as the popular grew, first to 9,000 and then to hold 15,0000 people in its the current size.
For the most part the subsequent construction honours the original design. As an example, the first built cleverly made use of the gorgeous columns of the former Roman temple, with their classically flourished bases and tops; the later columns are simpler in keeping with the Arabic aesthetic. Also, unlike the Roman columns, phase two uses various of colours of stone whereas the Romans favoured white. Now, there are 856 columns in all.
Then, in 1236, along came the Catholic kings. While they (thankfully) did not level the exquisite Grand Mosque, they did build (yet another) a cathedral inside it.
The centrally located gothic/baroque Cathedral included, among a long list of stunning features;
- A wood & gold alter 100 years in the making.
- Two massive pipe organs each requiring two musicians and eight men to pump up the bellows
- Masterfully carved ebony choir stalls/seats; and;
- 37 ornate chapels take up the better parts of the outer walls.
As if the magnificent Mezquita alone was not enough to enthrall visitors for a couple of hours, within its walls were both a permanent exhibition and temporary exhibition on distinct topics.
Permanent showcases hold archaeological relics discovered on the site. The temporary exhibit, titled Love to the Visible, highlights documents that date back to expulsion of the Society of Jesus -the Jesuits- from the city back in 1767.
The books stand as a testament to the work of the Jesuits in establishing libraries colleges and universities, regardless of opinion about the order evangelical and missionary work (conversations therapy). Supplementing the display of documents were paintings and sculptures from the 15th-18th century.
Human beings and their search for a spiritual “meaning of life” have left some amazing monuments for future generations. It begs the question what mark will 21st century humans leave? A healthy environment would be a great place to start.