WPC: Variations on a Theme

Intersecting Arches

Arches, Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba (also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba or the Mezquita) in Córdoba, Spain is one of the greatest architectural achievements in Moorish architecture. Construction of the mosque began in the 8th century after the Islāmic conquest of al-Andalus in 711. Begun by Abd al-Rahman I in A.D. 785 and expanded three times by his successors in the Umayyad dynasty, the mosque could hold 40,000 people. Córdoba became the capital of the Umayyad caliphate. With the caliphate came the artistic and architectural style elements of Syria and Byzantium, which mixed with existing design and building elements to become what is known as the Moorish style. Under the Umayyad caliphate, Córdoba became an intellectual center of Europe, with celebrated libraries and schools. In 1236 King Ferdinand III of Castile conquered Córdoba and returned the city to christianity. Part of the mosque became a church and some alterations were made. In the 16th century the city built a garish Renaissance cathedral  in the middle of the huge mosque. Although some attempts  were made to ease the transition between the quiet intimacy of the mosque and the ornate noise of the soaring cathedral, the two spaces have almost nothing in common. The complex is now the Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba.

 

The Mosque – Prayer Hall

The Prayer Hall of the Mosque

 

While disputes exist on the exact origin certain types of arches, it cannot be denied that Islāmic architects mastered the design and use of the arch. The use of horseshoe, multifoil, and other arches in mosques in present-day Spain helped spread Islāmic design throughout Europe. Arches served structural and functional purposes but became more decorative in Moorish design. The Mezquita combined Moorish and European elements. The innovative double arch arcade, with horseshoe arches supporting semi-circular arches, permitted a higher ceiling in the hypostyle prayer hall. Originally 1200 columns (only 856 remain) of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry removed from Roman and other buildings supported a flat wooden roof. Alternating red and white striped voussoirs may have been inspired by another Umayyad structure, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.  Romans and Visigoths, who ruled this area before the conquest of the Umayyad caliphate, first introduced the horseshoe arch. Prominent used throughout the Great Mosque helped spread the horseshoe arch across North Africa and Egypt.  It is a typical element of Western Islāmic architecture.

 

Mihrab And Maqsura

 

Multifoil arches (also called cusped or lobed arches) were common elements in Moorish Umayyad architecture. They were used in maqsuras (the royal prayer enclosure in front of the mihrab) and arcades of mosques. While both functional and decorative, their ornate decorative nature seems more important than function. In fact, the shape of the multifoil arch was as a surface motif on interior and exterior walls. Foils could be trifoil, cinquefoil, or used in combination with other arch forms. In the Great Mosque of Cordoba, multifoil  and interlocking arches in the maqsura complemented the ornate horseshoe arch at the entrance to the gilded mihrab or prayer niche.

 

Islam Intersects With Christianity

 

After the reconquest of Cordoba in 1236, a portion of the mosque was converted to a Christian church. In the 14th century, two chapels were built in the Mudejar style, a medieval Iberian style strongly influenced by Moorship design and workmanship. A section of the maqsura became the Chapel of Villaviciosa; the mihrab can be seen in the distance through the nave.The elegant multilobed arches of the chapel are typical of the Mudejar style. The artisans and craftsmen who created these works were Moorish.  Alfonso X built the chapel in 1371, and it  served as the cathedral’s main sanctuary for 300 years.

 

The Cathedral

 

Construction of the Cathedral of Córdoba (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) began in 1523 and lasted into the early 17th century. The ornate church, with its gothic, renaissance and baroque elements, was inserted into the heart of the former mosque.  When Charles V, who had given permission for construction of the new cathedral, visited the completed church, he was not impressed.  He commented: They have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city.

 

WPC: Variations on a Theme

CFFC: Having the letters U and O

Mosque Fountain

Courtyard with Fountain, Mosque of Sultan Hassan, about 1357 CE, Old Cairo, Egypt

Fountain in the interior courtyard of the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, about 1357 CE, Old Cairo, Egypt.

Join Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Having the letters U and O in the Word

Color Your World 2018: 120 Days of Crayola – White

White

Architectural detail from Santa María la Blanca in Toledo, Spain. Originally built as early as CE 180 as a synagogue, Saint Mary the White is now a museum owned and preserved by the Catholic Church. The use of Mudéjar (Moorish) architecture for a Jewish place of worship during the reign of King Alfonso VIII of Castile is seen by many as a symbol of the co-existence during the Middle Ages of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in what is now Spain.  In 1405, the Jews were violently expelled from the synagogue, and it was used as a church, a monastery, and later, a sword workshop. The building, the third most visited historic site in Toledo, was declared a national memorial in 1856 and restored.  It is currently not used for religious purposes.

Join Jennifer’s Color Your World 2018: 120 Days of Crayola, a 4 month (January 1, 2018 to April 30, 2018) blogging challenge event. Each day has a new color theme based on a crayon color in Crayola’s box of 120 crayons.

WPC: Ascend

Ascending Toward The Light

Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Cairo, Egypt

Section of a portico arcade in the Mosque of Ibn Tulun (Masjid Ibn Ṭūlūn) in Cairo, Egypt. It is said to be the oldest mosque in the city surviving in its original form and is the second oldest mosque in Egypt. Commissioned by Ahmad ibn Tulun, the Turkic Abbassid governor of Egypt, the mosque was constructed between AD 876 and 879. The upper part of the mosque’s exterior walls hold 128  arched windows with intricate pierced-stucco geometric patterns. Only four of the arched windows date back to the period of Ibn Tulun. The intersecting circle motifs are specific to that period. Each window is unique in its design motif and they are considered one of the most exquisite characteristics of the building. Stucco decoration of combining linear and floral decoration adorn the edges and soffits of the arcade and window arches. The mosque has the oldest and richest collection of stucco decoration in Egypt. For more detailed information on the style and decoration of the mosque, go to Discover Islamic Art .

WPC: Ascend

Old Cairo

The abulation hall and minaret of the Ahmed ibn Tulin mosque, built in 867. The external circular stairway on the minaret is unique.

Travel Theme: Abroad

Moorish Magic

Sunlight filtering through the dome above the mihrab, Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain

Sunlight filtering through the center dome above the maqsura (royal enclosure) in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain. The screened off maqsura is an elongated space in front of the mihrab, the mosque’s prayer room. The elaborately decorated walls and domes of the maqsura were part of the 962–966 CE mosque expansion by al-Hakam II,  the second Caliph of Córdoba. He ruled al-Andalus from 961-976 CE. During his reign, Cordoba flourished as an international center for the arts and science. Hakam amassed a library containing over 400,000 volumes.

Hakam is said to have imported Byzantine artisans  to complete the gilded mosaics.

Join Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Abroad

%d bloggers like this: