Polylobed arches of the Maqsura area, Great Mosque of Córdoba



In 929, the emir Abd al-Rahman III declared himself Caliph of Córdoba, breaking free from the Fatimid and Abbasid caliphates. He expressed his religious and political dominance through architectural patronage, both of Madinat al-Zahra and the Great Mosque, where he constructed the first true minaret, the tall slender tower with a balcony from which a muezzin calls Muslims to prayer. His son, al-Hakam II, extended the Great Mosque by twelve bays, adding a new maqsura of three domed bays in front of an elaborate mihrab (prayer niche) in the qibla wall (the wall facing Mecca). In this maqsura, screens of polylobed interlacing arches (pictured here) convey a sense of complexity and luxuriousness that reflect the power and wealth of the Córdoba caliphate.

Prev Next