Historical and Spatial Analysis of the Cordoba Mosque
EEM 01 - 28 - 2010

Our group visited the Cathedral at Cordoba when we were in Cordoba, Spain. It had a profound impact on me, and the way that I view the division of space. It is not simply a monument or a temple of different cultures nor is it merely a mosque; but the mother church of the Dioceses. It has sensitivity to the word of the lord, the unity of the church and the community of the believers. There was an Islamic intervention, whose Muslim dominance determined the construction of the mosque. The impressive creating became one of the most important sanctuaries of Western Islam. As we progressed through the cathedral, we witnessed the different expansions of the building. When first entering the space, we transcended through a courtyard that had many orange trees and fountains. Proceeding into the dimly lit space, we entered through the "door of palms" into the naves of Abd-Ar-Ramin I. He expanded the church with a Hispano-Roman influence because of the use of materials. This part was where the Muslims built over the remains of the Basilica of San Vicente; the Christian church that had stood there before the Muslim influence. The superposed arches and the alternation of brick and stone (red and beige) in the bounding of the arches were modeled after the Episcopal palace. Then we progressed further back into the expansion by Abd-Ar-Rahman II, and then through the expansion by Al Hakam II. There were hundreds of columns in this Muslim expansion that were double arched and possessed this two-toned material. Then the Christian transformation under King Ferdinand III, and in the effort to reclaim the Mosque as Christian territory, he embedded Christian motifs and symbols amid the sea of columns left by the Muslims. The Main Chapel, transept and choir works are surrounded by controversy. The result was a Latin cross plan with caliph structures that had gothic, renaissance and baroque influences. The main alter piece was astounding and the choir was covered by what looked to be a vault inspired by Roman design. There was a room of composed treasury that was used in the cathedral. For my sketches, I took the time to highlight the important factors of the archways, and the way that they divided up space. These arches were the ones found in the earliest addition of the Mosque under the ruins of the former church. The play on perspective and the layering of space defined hallways and access points throughout the main part of the building. For the second sketch, I lighted the infamous shape of the Muslim door, and the patterning on it. In the space, the light was shining through this door to give a very dynamic effect to the interior building as well as to reflect upon the ultimate idea of unity that the Muslims so believed in. The proportions and narrative were very interesting to analyze and highlight through the space.

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