At this point in my travels, I have seen so many cathedrals and churches that few truly leave me inspired and amazingly impressed. When I stepped through the doors of Cordoba's Great Mosque, La Mezquita, a "wo-o-o-o-ow" escaped from my mouth with a lengthened expression, and I knew I had entered into a place of special significance.
La Mezquita was once a jewel of Islamic civilization, later taken over by Christians through conquest. Building began in 785 with additions added over time, making the mosque one of the largest in the world. Its existance signifies that a large Muslim community lived in Cordoba, Spain.
From the streets outside, the mosque is deceptively concealed by solid walls that give it a military look. Inside the walls is the Courtyard of the Orange Trees where orange trees grow among palms and cypresses for a peaceful reprieve from the surrounding busy streets. In one corner, a bell tower rises above the courtyard with a distinctive Renaissance appearance--it was added in 1593.
After the Christian forces captured Cordoba in 1236, 30 or more side chapels with small altars were erected. In effect, two different religions represented in one building.
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