Abd al-Rahman decided to raise his great mosque. He offered to buy the church and the plot from the conquered people. The negotiations for the sale were placed in the hands of the Sultan's favourite secretary, Umeya ibn Yezid. Under the terms of the transfer, the Cordovese were permitted to reconstruct the church formerly dedicated to St Faustus, St Januarius, and St Marcellus, three Christian martyrs whom they deeply revered.
Abd al-Rahman I allowed the Christians to rebuild their ruined churches and purchased the Christian half of the church of St Vincent. The Caliph was rich. Apart from the treasure wrested from the Goths during the recent wars, he also extracted a tithe upon the produce of the land and on manufactures. Muslims in Andalusia were obliged to pay the tax of Zakah and a tax kown as Jizya was also laid upon every Christian and Jew in Andalusia in return they would receive a covenant of security from foreign invaders. Beyond this, the Moorish kings were greatly enriched by the acquisition of the valuable mines of Iberia, the quarries of marble, and other sources of wealth. From these revenues Abd al-Rahman and his successors, Hisham, Abd-erRahman II, the greatest of the dynasty and the third of the line, and lastly the extravagant Almanzor, lavished large sums upon the designing, construction, and costly adornment of the Mosque. Abd al-Rahman I and his descendants reworked the building over the following two centuries to fashion it as a mosque, starting in 784. Additionally, Abd al-Rahman I used the mosque (originally called Aljama Mosque) as an adjunct to his palace and named it in honour of his wife. Traditionally, the mihrab (or apse) of a mosque faces in the direction of Mecca; by facing the mihrab, worshipers pray towards Mecca. Mecca is east-southeast of the mosque, but the mihrab of this mosque unusually points south.
The work of building the resplendent Mezquita employed thousands of artisans and labourers, and such a vast undertaking led to the development of all the resources of the district. Hard stone and beautifully veined marbles were quarried from the Sierra Morena and the surrounding regions of the city. Metals of various kinds were dug from the soil, and factories sprang up in Cordova amid the stir and bustle of an awakened industrial energy. A famous Syrian architect made the plans for the Mosque. Leaving his own house on the edge of Cordoba, the Caliph came to reside in the city, so that he might personally superintend the operations and offer proposals for the improvement of the designs. Abd-er-Rahman moved about among the workers, directing them for several hours of every day.
The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 987. It was connected to the Caliph's palace by a raised walk-way, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers - with Christian Kings following suit and building their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
|المنقب میں نصب عبدالرحمن اول کا مجسمہ|
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the mosque was converted into a Catholic church in its centre. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry IIrebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela’s captured cathedral bells.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of El Libertador Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. However, when Charles V visited the completed cathedral he was displeased by the result and famously commented, "they have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city."
The mosque's reconversion to a Catholic church, may have helped to preserve it when the Spanish Inquisition was most active .Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.