The Great Mosque of Cordoba was, and continues to be, considered a wonder of the medieval world by both Muslims and Christians alike. Built on a Visigothic site, which was probably the site of an earlier Roman temple, the Great Mosque of Cordoba was begun between 784 and 786 during the reign of ‘Abd al-Rahman I and constructed initially from materials taken from demolished Roman structures including those as far away as Merida in Extremadura.
At the time Córdoba became the largest, richest and most sophisticated city in Western Europe. Mediterranean trade and cultural exchange flourished. Muslims imported a rich intellectual tradition from the Middle East and North Africa and Muslim and Jewish scholars played an important part in reviving and expanding classical Greek learning in Western Europe. The indigenous cultures interacted and integrated openly with Muslim and Jewish cultures in complex ways, thus giving the region a distinctive culture which perpetuates even today.
As well as being the second largest Mosque in the world at the time of its construction this was the grandest and most beautiful church constructed by the Moors in Spain and it is situated deep in the heart of the city amongst a lattice work of narrow streets, geranium laden balconies, secret patios and half-hidden plazas in the city’s old Jewish quarter.