Cordoba – the Mihrab of the Mezquita

Construction of the Great Mosque at Córdoba (now known as the Mezquita of Cordoba) beginning in 785 CE marks the beginning of Moorish architecture in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa. The mosque is noted for its striking interior arches, which according to Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal (Pakistani poet) were described  “countless pillars like rows of palm trees in the oases of Syria”.

The Mihrab of the Mezquita is a masterpiece of architectural art, with geometric and flowing designs of plants.  The Mihrab – normally faces in the direction of Mecca, but the Mihrab of the Mezquita is an exception, as is directed towards south and not east-southeast, where Mecca lies [ 1 ].

Below, I am sharing some pictures of our visit in April 2012

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 Tourists are not allowed to enter the room of the Mihrab, which has a single block of white marble sculpted into the shape of a scallop shell. This formed the dome that amplified the voice of the Imam (person who leads Islamic worship services) throughout the mosque.

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For the decoration of this portal, Al-Hakim asked the emperor of Byzantium, Nicephoras II Phocas, to send him a mosaicist capable of imitating the superb mosaics of the Great Mosque of Damascus, one of the great 8th-century Syrian Omayyad buildings. The Christian emperor sent the Muslim caliph not only a mosaicist but also a gift of 1600kg of gold mosaic cubes. These shimmering cubes, shaped into flower motifs and inscriptions from the Quran, decorated the whole maksura, the area/room infront of the Mihrab.

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Some of the work impresses even more on the black and white pictures. This is one of the side arches.

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Detail of Arabic calligraphy, trefoil arches and mosaic work of the exquisitely decorated mihrab

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Beautiful gilded dome over the Maksoureh, an anteroom for the caliph and his court in front of the Mihrab dating from 961

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In 1984, the historic center of Cordoba, including the Mezquita, was made a UNESCO World Heritage site.

1. Lapunzina, Alejandro (2005). Architecture of Spain. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 82–83.

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