Cathedral Mosque the Mihrab, Córdoba
In a mosque the mihrab indicates the direction one should face during prayer. When the Catholics took over the mosque, instead of destroying the entire building they kept some of it intact, so it is possible to still see the beautiful mihrab with the calligraphy. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get very close to it, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.
This great mosque which dates back to the 12th century, embodied the islamic power on the Spanish Peninsula. The original mosque was built by Abd al rahman around 785 but the building has evolved through the centuries and it blends many types of architecture. Some of the more elaborate additions were made by Hakam II in the 10th century (these include the prayer niche).
The existing Mihrab - little prayer niche for the Imam leading the prayers - was built in the 10th century, replacing the original. The Mihrab points in the direction of Mecca and is the most richly decorated part of la Mezquita with floral motifs and verses from the Koran. Leading up to the Mihrab is a small hallway with the famous multi-lobed arches, called Arcos de la Maksura, topped by a beautifully decorated cupola.
The whole internal space of the Mosque seems fulfilled by columns. There are 928 columns. Some columns are cut down from a marble or a granite specially for the Mosque. However the most part of columns were delivered here from destroyed Roman and west-gothic buildings from the whole Spain and even from Africa.
This, the third and last mihrab was built as part of the 3rd campaign of building by Al-Hakaam II in 964. Like its predecessors it inexplicably faces South (not East toward Mecca). It is an octagonal chamber embwddw in the outside wall and has a cupola made from an enormous block of marble carved as a scallop shell,set in its octagonal frame. Railings prevent one from examining the mihrab but from various points a glimpse may be had of the dome and the wall panels of single cusped blind arches on small colored marble colonettes (see pictures). The mihrab once housed one of the first handwritten copies of the Koran, The key-hole entry arch of the mihrab is set in an alfiz (rectangular frame) filled with mosaic, including panels of Cufic script(prayers) and designs. The voussoirs are colorful and heavily decorated. In the 10C the Moors quickly picked up the sculptural and mosaic technics from the Byzantines whose emperor sent teacher-craftsmen and 16 tons of colored stone and glass cubes to the Caliph for the project. In front of the Mihrab is a wall-less antechamber whose sides are delineated by cusped arches with carved, striped voussoirs that blend in with their plain neighbors.Their columns are paired and varicolored. The arches are intersecting (a pattern emulated later by the Sicilian Normans in Cefalu and Monreale). These ascend to a central poychrome ,mosaic , petal-flower dome.The dome is surrounded by supporting ribbing, perhaps the earliest example of this technic. The antechamber extends North (the main aisle) to the Capilla Villaviciosa (built 4C later).
Al-Hakim II built the mihrab as a place of prayer for the caliph, the symbolic leader of Islam. It is inset behind the middle of three bays which form the maksura. The bays are topped off with spectacular sky-lit domes vaulted and featuring superb craftsmanship. The rest of the maksura was constructed under the guidance of a master builder sent by the Christian ruler of Constantinople. Along with the builder and other artisans, who worked together with Cordoban artisans, the Christian ruler sent along 1.6 tonnes of gold mosaic cubes which adorn the arches and bays of the maksura. During services the imam would speak from the mihrab which would amplify his voice by way of a marble block sculpted in the shape of a scallop.
It is truly a beautiful work of art and even the iron fence which keeps visitors at a distance cannot diminish the magnificent craftsmanship and artwork.
This famous MIHRAB is a richly decorated niche for prayer.
It was here that a gilded copy of the KORAN was.
One can clearly see how many pilgrims crouched here to crouch 7 times around the MIHRAB.
It is situated in the Mezquita/Cathedral complex and can't be missed....
It is behind a gate so it is quite difficult to take a good photograph....but I managed!
For more MEZQUITA photographs: see my TRAVELOGUE.....
No, it is not looking to La Meca. Not sure if it is true or not but there are some histories.
One says that he was homesick of Damascus, so he constructed in direction to Damascus instead of La Meca, others say that as it was constructed the Mosque over the ruins of a Visigoth church, they could not change it.
Also the mihrab has another purpose, here the imam leads the prayers from here and thanks to the shape, his voice can be heard all around (and I know that as you can head the Iman in Marbella on Fridays when you pass around the mosque)
Next to the Mihrab is the Museum
MEZQUITA - MIHRAB. One of the most dazzling parts of the Mosque is the Mihrab, the holy sanctuary where the Koran scriptures uset to keep. A scallop-shell dome covers this sanctum, which is richly decorated with mosaics. Koranic scriptures border the Mihrab and carved stucco adorns the upper walls.
This is the prayer place, and octagonal small room called mihrab. The arch in the entrance is called maqsura. There is a golden copy of the Koran. Pilgrims circled seven times on their knees.