I’m sure you have heard a lot about the Mosque of Córdoba, but no so much about the other things in this city. And there are many because Córdoba has thousands of years of history and throughout that period it has been filled several times with wonders.
Do not think we are exaggerating, we are not: Córdoba is the largest urban area of all the ones declared World Heritage Site. A thousand years ago, this was one of the largest cities of the planet, and surely the most beautiful and cultured. It already had public lighting, libraries and sewers when almost all of Europe was dirty, dark and ignorant.
Besides, that good fortune already came from way back. It seems that the then called Corduba, founded by the Romans in 169 B.C, was by then a splendid place, as we can clearly see from the remains of an enormous theatre, a temple, a forum, and imperial palace, an amphitheatre and a bridge that is still in use. In other words, what was here at the time was not exactly a tiny little town.
However, the current city owes most of its fame and glory to the Arabs. Occupied by them in the eighth century, Córdoba became the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate and one of the cultural and political centres of the medieval world. They built palatial complexes such as Medina Azahara, public baths, gardens, fountains and, of course, the beautiful Mosque.
But the Muslim power started to diminish and Fernando III the Saint took control of the city in 1236. To live up to his nickname and counteract so many buildings of infidels, he ordered to build a lot of Christian temples, today known as Fernandine Churches, and as it would be expected he also turned the Mosque into a Cathedral.
The structure of the building was maintained until when in the following centuries the reforms began. The biggest one took place in Renaissance times when a Christian nave was inserted in the middle of the vast Islamic structure. Even Carlos V would end up regretting this, but that is how it has reached our times: as a kind of architectural amalgam that sums up the secular struggles between one religion and another.
Believe or not, the treasures of Córdoba’s heritage were in grave danger in 1808 when the Napoleonic army under the command of General Dupont, spent three days here looting and destroying the town. The only consolation for the people of Córdoba was knowing, just a month later, that Dupont had been defeated in Bailén, so the looters would never be able to enjoy what they had robbed.