References Note of the editor This article was first published in January An edited version with revisions is published here in HTML, with new illustrations and captions. Theoretical issues Although Muslim architecture has been widely investigated, it still remains omitted from main stream architecture theories and much of the existing works about it are no more than curiosities undertaken by a group of sympathisers.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba Posted on by Erin Courtesy of Wikipedia In the southern half of Spain, in one of the oldest cities in the region, lies one of the most unique structures in religious history. Beginning in BC, in a city that would become the capital of the Islamic Emirate and, for a time, the most populous city in the world, a sacred edifice was erected that has fascinated the public for generations.
First, it was a temple built by the Romans, next it was converted to a Catholic church by the Visigoths and then it became an Islamic mosque built by Abd al-Rahman I in AD before being altered in a way that has never been done before or since. The Great Mosque of Cordoba is a monument to the religious changes that have taken place in Spain since the area was first populated.
For centuries Rome ruled the area that they named Hispania Ulterior Baetica, of which Cordoba was the capital. A few short years later, around AD, Muslim forces overran Cordoba and seized control of the city. For a time, Christians and Muslims shared the Church of St.
Vincent, with areas set apart where Christians and Muslims could worship separately. Vincent from the local congregation, the Church of St.
Vincent was destroyed and a grand mosque put in its place. Over the next two decades, with the intent to recreate his birth city of Damascus, al-Rahman worked to design a mosque that would rival the Great Mosque of Damascus while incorporating local styles and elements.
This mosque was begun in AD and over the course of the next two hundred years, would receive various modifications and alterations by the Muslim rulers of al-Andalus. By the time the Great Mosque of Cordoba was finally completed over years later, it had become the most innovative Islamic Mosque in the world.
The original Great Mosque of Cordoba was architecturally innovative for a number of reasons, though it did have features and characteristics that were common to that era. It is the use of those common features and characteristics that made this structure the fascinating marvel that it is.
To examine fully whether or not the Great Mosque of Cordoba was truly an innovative masterpiece, let us compare it to the other prominent Islamic structure of that time: The Umayyad Mosque was completed in AD, a full 69 years before the Great Mosque of Cordoba was even begun, and was the most prominent Islamic building of the time, serving as one of the main architectural inspirations for the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
Aside from that feature, these two magnificent structures have various other similarities as well as several distinct differences. Examining the exteriors of each structure, you will immediately see some architectural differences.
Whereas the Umayyad Mosque uses arches mainly as a structural element, the Great Mosque of Cordoba uses arches as both structural and decorative elements.
The Umayyad Mosque uses two sizes of a standard, simple, repeating arch while the Great Mosque of Cordoba uses a variety of styles, sizes and designs. There are poly-lobed arches, horseshoe arches and interlacing horseshoe arches.
Cordoba minaret — Courtesy of Wikipedia Another key difference of the exterior is that Umayyad Mosque has three minarets while the Great Mosque of Cordoba only has one, though it does not appear like one anymore and we will go into the reason for that later.
Exterior similarities between the two mosques include the elaborately decorative doors with artistic elements around the doors, though the specific artistic styles differ; Umayyad Mosque utilizes stained glass while the Great Mosque of Cordoba displays intricately designed mosaics.
Courtesy of Wikipedia Moving on to the interior, we see one of the more distinct elements of the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Inside the mosque, there are columns supporting a series of two-tiered arches that support the roof.
This is called a Hypostyle hall. While the use of arches and columns was not unusual during and prior to the early-Christian era, the way the arches and columns were used in the Great Mosque of Cordoba was. As for the style of the arches attached to those columns, that, too, is unique.
The difference, however, is that the Great Mosque of Cordoba did not separate the tiers with straight levels of brick or concrete. These other structures had a distinct separation of arches because the second or third sets of arches were usually on a second or third floor of the building.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba did away with the common practice of putting tiered arches on separate and distinct levels by removing the separating plane from the structure and instead, extended the arch column up to support a second, freestanding arch.
This created an innovative design that had never been seen before. Courtesy of Wikimedia Aside from putting a twist on the traditional style of bi-level arches, the Great Mosque of Cordoba utilized a wide variety of arch designs and placement.
The placement of multiple rows of arches in the layout of a church was something that was very common. Inside the Great Mosque of Cordoba are further examples of interlacing arches, poly-lobed arches, horseshoe arches, interlacing horseshoe arches and the standard single arch.
Most of the arches have an alternating stone and red brick pattern while others are covered in mosaics. The horseshoe arch is a Visigothic feature, the interlacing horseshoe arch is a Christian feature and the alternating stone and red brick comes from the Byzantine tradition.
This practice of adapting and incorporating previous architectural styles and local elements is what makes Islamic architecture so one-of-a-kind.New Architecture in Spain (PB) - Edited and with essay by Terence Riley.
ISBN Carver, Norman F. Jr. () Iberian Villages Portugal & Spain. Essay On July 19, , an army of Arabs and Berbers unified under the aegis of the Islamic Umayyad caliphate landed on the Iberian Peninsula.
Over the next seven years, through diplomacy and warfare, they brought the entire peninsula except for Galicia and Asturias in the far north under Islamic control; however, frontiers with the Christian. Muslim architecture is the building style of the countries of Muslim religion, a term which may include modern or old architecture practised in these countries and which may not be necessarily Islamic nor display any known features of Islamic architecture such as the arch, the dome, stucco decoration, etc.
The new understanding of architecture and design led to more fantastic examples of vaulting and ornamentation, and the Early Gothic or Lancet style (from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) developed into the Decorated or Rayonnant Gothic (roughly fourteenth century).
This brief timeline traces the history of architecture in the Western world, beginning with the first known structures made by Eurocentric people up to the soaring skyscrapers and .
Gothic architecture began mainly in France where builders began to adapt the earlier Romanesque style. Builders were also influenced by the pointed arches and elaborate stonework of Moorish architecture in Spain.
One of the earliest Gothic buildings was the ambulatory of the abbey of St. Denis in France, built between and