The Mezqita is a curious building…a mosque built on the foundations of a Visigoth church; the mosque was enlarged over the next 450 years and, following the reconquista (reconquering of the Iberia Peninsular from the Moors), saw a gothic church planted in its middle and a bell tower – the Torre del Alminar – was built over the minaret.
One enters through the Patio de los Naranjos (Patio of Orange Trees) a shady courtyard that was the former ablutions area. Entering the mosque, a forest of delicate columns and arabic arches extends in all directions, as far as the eye can see.
The church looks incongruous – its gothic columns appear brutal in the midst of the delicacy of the surrounding space – has itself seen renovations and additions over the centuries. The 18th century choir of carved mahogany stalls stands as testimony to craftsmanship rarely seen today, but the massive Capilla Mayor, installed in the 16th century, couldn’t be viewed owing to conservation works.
Apparently the Mequita is the third largest mosque in the world, but Muslims are not permitted to worship in it .