4/16 Temple/ Church/ Mosque/ Cathedral: A Site of Memory in Cordoba, Spain

Another one of the world’s most spectacular buildings, that is also hotly contested. How is this debate similar to, and different from, Hagia Sophia?

Here are some of the images we will be looking at.

Architecture fans: here is an amazing collection of architectural plans and elevations of the building.


  • The Great Mosque of Cordoba, on Smarthistory.
  • Michele Lamprakos, “Memento Mauri: The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba,” in P. Karimi and N. Rabbat, eds., The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in the Middle East: from Napoleon to ISIS, Aggregate Architectural Collaborate website, 3 (December, 2016). [NB THIS ONE IS LONG! GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME TO READ IT CAREFULLY.]
  • be prepared to discuss the parts of Pillars of the Earth that are set in Spain

Model Exam answer: First, when the Castilian forces came to Spain and destroyed relics of muslim culture, and more recently while the Church has attempted to retell the story of the cathedral through a christian campaign to discredit the islamic legacy, we have seen cultures try to cancel each other out rather than coexist. The Cordoba Mosque has been a perfect epitomization of the cultural and religious clash in Spain. However, the clash is shown as more of a harmony within the architecture of the building itself; it features the Mihrab and prayer hall characteristic of Islamic tradition, and the crisscrossing ribs of the dome, which are a more Christian gothic look. This melding of aesthetics is mirrored in Jack’s work while in Spain. He recognizes the ribbed, vaulted arches in Spain and brings the idea home when he builds his cathedral. Jack epitomizes the movement of ideas, artistic and otherwise, within a single generation. In a space like the Cordoba Mosque or even perhaps the Hagia Sophia it is hard to deem some aspect of art or architecture as fully belonging to one religious tradition or another; progress and ideas are not linear and are hard to define in one camp or another. This melding of ideas could help one realize that it will be difficult to ever nail down the Cordoba mosque as belonging to one religious group as it has served as and been contributed to by people of many different groups. 

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