Cordoba, located alongside the Guadalquivir River, is an ancient
city that has existed at least since Roman times. After the
Muslim conquest of Iberia in 711, the Umayyad amirs made Cordoba
the capital of al-Andalus. By the 10th century, Cordoba had
become one of the greatest cities in the world, thanks to the
efforts of the powerful and wise caliph Abd al-Rahman III.
Unrivaled throughout Europe, Cordoba boasted a population of
close to one million inhabitants, with numerous districts and
neighborhoods, hundreds of masjids, public baths, suqs (markets),
mills, and palaces. Students, Muslim and non-Muslim, flocked
to Cordoba for religious studies or to gain scientific knowledge
available only in the lands of Islam.
A few kilometers outside the city, the ruins of the Umayyad
caliphal city, known as Madinat al-Zahra, can be seen.
The caliphate crumbled amid economic and military pressures
in the early 11th century, leading to the rise of smaller kingdoms
whose rulers sought to emulate the opulence and glory of Cordoba.
The Great Masjid of Cordoba is one of the most important monuments
in the world, and one of the few remaining structures from the
Muslim era still extant in Spain. We will visit the Mezquita
(as it is called in Spanish), which was consecrated as a church
in the 13th century when Cordoba was conquered by Spanish Christians
from the north. In the 16th century, a Renaissance cathedral
was built into the center of the masjid, by the order of Emperor
Charles V, who later regretted his decision with the words:
"You have destroyed something unique in the world with
something that can be found anywhere."
The Umayyad palace known as the Alcazar, situated next to the
masjid, is also worth visiting, with its structures and gardens.
As we visit these sites, we will discuss the building techniques
and history of the structures.
We will also visit the Jewish quarter, located close to the
Mezquita, and one the synagogues that has survived over the
We will also walk across the Roman bridge which traverses the
Guadalquivir and discuss the agricultural technology and methods
used by Andalusi Muslims.