Historic Centre of Cordoba

Historic Centre of Cordoba

Cordoba's period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest, when some 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings were built to rival the splendours of Constantinople, Damascus and Baghdad. In the 13th century, under Ferdinand III, the Saint, Cordoba's Great Mosque was turned into a cathedral and new defensive structures, particularly the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra, were erected.

Centre historique de Cordoue

La période glorieuse de Cordoue a commencé au VIIIe siècle quand elle a été conquise par les Maures et qu'ont été construits quelque 300 mosquées et d'innombrables palais et édifices publics, rivalisant avec les splendeurs de Constantinople, Damas et Bagdad. Au XIIIe siècle, sous Ferdinand III le Saint, la Grande Mosquée de Cordoue a été transformée en cathédrale et de nouvelles constructions défensives ont été édifiées, notamment l'Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos et la tour-forteresse de la Calahorra.

وسط قرطبة التاريخي

بدأ نجم قرطبة يسطع في القرن الثامن عندما دخلها العرب الذي شيّدوا فيها حوالى 300 جامع والعديد من القصور والمباني العامة مزاحمين روائع القسطنطينيّة ودمشق وبغداد. في القرن الثامن وتحت حكم فردينان الثالث القديس، تمّ تحويل جامع قرطبة العظيم إلى كاتدرائيّة وشيُّدت مبانٍ دفاعيّة جديدة ومنها قصر الملوك المسيحيين وبرج قلعة كالاهورا.

source: UNESCO/ERI



source: UNESCO/ERI

Исторический центр города Кордова

Период величайшего расцвета Кордовы начался в VIII в. после мусульманского завоевания, когда были построены около 300 мечетей, неисчислимые дворцы и общественные здания, и город соперничал с великолепием Константинополя, Дамаска и Багдада. В ХIII в. при Фердинанде III Святом Большая мечеть Кордовы была превращена в кафедральный собор, были возведены новые оборонительные сооружения, и прежде всего Алькасар-де-лос-Рейос-Кристианос и Торре-Форталеса-де-ла-Калаорра.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Centro histórico de Córdoba

El período de gloria de Córdoba comenzó en el siglo VIII, después de su conquista por los moros, cuando se construyeron unas 300 mezquitas e innumerables palacios y edificios públicos. El esplendor de la ciudad llegó entonces a rivalizar con el Constantinopla, Damasco y Bagdad. En el siglo XIII, en tiempos de Fernando III el Santo, se transformó la gran mezquita en catedral cristiana y se construyeron nuevos edificios defensivos como la Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra y el Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.

source: UNESCO/ERI


source: NFUAJ

Historisch centrum van Cordoba

Voor Cordoba begon de periode van grootste roem in de 8e eeuw, na de Moorse verovering. Er werden toen ongeveer 300 moskeeën en ontelbare paleizen en openbare gebouwen gebouwd om te wedijveren met de pracht en praal van Constantinopel, Damascus en Baghdad. In de 13e eeuw werd de Grote moskee van Cordoba – onder de Heilige Fendinand III – veranderd in een kathedraal. Er werden nieuwe verdedigingswerken gebouwd, waaronder Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos en de Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra. Het historische centrum van Cordoba bestaat vandaag de dag uit de straten, delen land en huizenblokken rondom de moskeekathedraal.

Source: unesco.nl

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Historic Centre of Cordoba © Waqqas Akhtar
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis 

Founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC near the pre-existing Tartesic Corduba, capital of Baetica, Cordoba acquired great importance during the period of Augustus. It became the capital of the emirate depending on Damascus in the 8th century. In 929, Abderraman III established it as the headquarters of the independent Caliphate. Cordoba’s period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest, when some 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings were built to rival the splendors of Constantinople, Damascus and Baghdad. In the 13th century, under Ferdinand III, Cordoba’s Great Mosque was turned into a cathedral and new defensive structures, particularly the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Torre Foraleza de la Calahorra, were erected.

The Historic Centre of Cordoba now comprises the streets surrounding the Great Mosque and all the parcels of land opening on to these, together with all the blocks of houses around the mosque-cathedral. This area extends to the other bank of the River GuadaIquivir (to include the Roman bridge and the Calahorra) in the south, to the Calle San Fernando in the east, to the boundary of the commercial centre in the north, and  incorporating the AIcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the San Basilio quarter in the west.

The city, by virtue of its extent and plan, its historical significance as a living expression of the different cultures that have existed there, and its relationship with the river, is a historical ensemble of extraordinary value. It represented an obligatory passage between the south and the “meseta”, and was an important port, from which mining and agricultural products from the mountains and countryside were exported.

The Historic Centre of Cordoba creates the perfect urban and landscape setting for the Mosque. It reflects thousands of years of occupation by different cultural groups – Roman, Visigoth, Islam, Judaism and Christian-, that all left a mark. This area reflects the urban and architectural complexity reached during the Roman era and the splendour of the great Islamic city, which, between the 8th and the 10th centuries, represented the main urban and cultural focus in the western world. Its monumental richness and the unique residential architecture stand out. There are still many ancestral homes and traditional houses. The communal houses built around interior courtyards (casa-patio) are the best example of Cordoban houses. They are of Roman origin with an Andalusian touch, and they heighten the presence of water and plants in daily life.

The Great Mosque of Cordoba represents a unique artistic achievement due to its size and the sheer boldness of the height of its ceilings. It is an irreplaceable testimony of the Caliphate of Cordoba and it is the most emblematic monument of Islamic religious architecture. It was the second biggest in surface area, after the Holy Mosque in Mecca, previously only reached by the Blue Mosque (Istanbul, 1588), and was a very unusual type of mosque that bears witness to the presence of Islam in the West. The Great Mosque of Cordoba was also very influential on Western Islamic art since the 8th century just as in the neo-Moorish style in the 19th century.

Concerning architecture, it has represented a testing ground for building techniques, which have influenced both the Arabic and Christian cultures alike since the 8th century.

It is an architectural hybrid that joins together many of the artistic values of East and West and includes elements hitherto unheard-of in Islamic religious architecture, including the use of double arches to support the roof. The direct forerunners to this can be found in the Los Milagros (Miracles) Aqueduct in Merida. Its building techniques - the use of stone with brick - were a novelty reusing and integrating Roman/Visigoth techniques. Also it included the “honeycomb” capital, which differs from the Corinthian capital, characteristic of caliph art. Subsequently, this was to greatly influence all Spanish architecture. Likewise the combination of the ribbed vault, with a system of intertwined poli ovulate arches gives stability and solidity to the ensemble, and it represents a first class architectural milestone a hundred years before the ribbed vault appeared in France. 

Criterion (i): The Great Mosque of Cordoba, with its dimensions and the boldness of its interior elevation, which were never imitated, make it a unique artistic creation 

Criterion (ii): Despite its uniqueness, the mosque of Cordoba has exercised a considerable influence on western Muslim art from the 8th century. It influenced as well the development of “Neo-Moresque” styles of the 19th century. 

Criterion (iii): The Historic Centre of Córdoba is the highly relevant testimony to the Caliphate of Cordoba (929-1031): this city - which, it is said, enclosed 300 mosques and innumerable palaces - [was] the rival of Constantinople and Baghdad. 

Criterion (iv): It is an outstanding example of the religious architecture of Islam. 


The Great Mosque of Cordoba was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984 and the property was extended in 1994 to include part of the Historic Centre, the Alcázar (the fortress), and extending south to the banks of the River Guadalquivir, the Roman Bridge and the Calahorra Tower. The total area encompasses 80.28 ha.

The Historic Centre of Cordoba maintains its material integrity and there are no elements threatening it. The Centre maintains a unitary character due to the urban areas and historic buildings there, with a large number of protected buildings with adequate conditions of conservation and use.

The Great Mosque, with its juxtaposition of cultures and architectural styles, has retained its material integrity. It was built in the 8th century, over the remains of the Visigoth Basilica of San Vicente. There were consecutive extensions carried out over three centuries, and in 1236 the Christian Cathedral was installed. The greatest reconstruction was carried out in the Renaissance period, between 1523 and 1599, which resulted in its present structure of space. Its continued religious use has ensured in large part its preservation. 


The property maintains conditions of authenticity expressed through the presence of the urban fabric and the historic buildings, where there have been hardly any urban renovations, and where layout and form has been maintained. Córdoba has grown organically and continuously over two millennia. As a result, many of its buildings bear witness to the successive changes in taste and style, reconstruction following destruction and changes in use. However, the townscape has maintained an authenticity of its own. There is still a high level of building traditions and techniques, situation and surroundings, that are reflected in the presence of the urban areas, historic buildings, the image and the treatment of the public spaces. Other monuments included in the area, belonging to different styles and timelines, hold a high degree of authenticity of shape, design, materials and uses, which can be added to the great number of architectural types: ancestral homes, casa-patios, corrales (tenement houses) etc.

The Great Mosque has fully maintained its authenticity in terms of its shape, design, materials, use and function. The juxtaposition of styles bestows an indisputable authenticity and adds originality. An example of the material assimilation and the proof of authenticity of the monument is the way old Roman and Visigoth columns were reused in Islamic architecture. 

Protection and management requirements

There is a legal framework in place to ensure the protection of the property, basically provided by the State Law 16/1985 of Spanish Historical Heritage and the Law 14/2007 of Historic Heritage of Andalusia. The Regional Government of Andalusia is the authority responsible for the safeguarding of the property and for heritage protection. The Town Council, as the closest authority, is responsible for developing urban planning policies and strategies to protect and enhance the property. There is also a Municipal Office for the Historic Centre with specialized technicians and administrative personnel to manage the guardianship and to promote the Historic Centre of Cordoba.

The inscribed area forms part of the larger “Historic Ensemble” of Cordoba, which is protected by heritage legislation. The Historic Ensemble has an overall protected area of 246 ha and is protected through the Special Plan of Protection and Catalogue. The 80.28 ha corresponding to the World Heritage property represent 32% of the historic ensemble.

Unique buildings have the maximum level of protection existing in Heritage Legislation, as they have been declared Property of Cultural Interest under the category of Monuments.

The Special Plan of Historic Ensembles establishes the protection conditions for maintenance of the urban structure, types and traditional image, and includes an extensive catalogue in which 119 individual monuments and 513 buildings are registered, and another 1163 plots are protected as “catalogued ensembles”. The Special Protection Plan proposed specific actions for urban restoration. These include the remodelling of the Monumental Axis and the visitor reception centre next to the Mosque, improving the connection of the historic centre with the different installations which are being set up on the left bank of the River Guadalquivir: a Congress centre, a Contemporary Art Museum, the water mills, the future Fine Arts Museum, etc. Likewise, the special plans for the monumental ensemble of the Christian Fortress, Royal Stables and the River Guadalquivir are to improve the visual and symbolic setting when contemplating the historic façade from the riverbank. The Plan of Accessibility will be centred on the re-planning of public spaces. Many of these actions will need to be integrated into a World Heritage Management Plan to be drawn up by the Town Council.

  • Extension of the "Mosque of Cordoba".