Mosque of Cordoba: World Heritage or Real estate investment?

I imagine that as an avid traveler you have already heard about the Mosque of Cordoba, one of the most visited Patrimonies of Humanity in Spain. What would you say if I told you a big secret? Would you be willing to keep it? I’ll tell you and then you’ll decide what to do with it.


As soon as I entered I realized that I was not entering a regular Cathedral or a Mosque. I was entering what, in a wonderful and fictional world, would be paradise: a place of peaceful coexistence of different creeds. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
I was entering the Mosque of Cordoba, a stage, like so many others, of battles and conquests, of appropriations and reforms. In the early 700’s, Muslims invaded Roman Hispania and erected, in 785, on what was the Basilica of St. Vincent Martyr in the town of Corduba, the imposing mosque that was only surpassed in size by Mecca (nowadays it is the Third in size after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul).

Almost 500 years later, more precisely in 1236, Ferdinand III of Castile, after his triumphal entry into the Andalusian city, converted the mosque into a cathedral.

Mosque of CordobaMosque of Cordoba


Today the Mosque of Cordoba is an impressive display not only of varied architectural and artistic styles, but also a journey through 2000 years of human history, during which, and until today, the human being didn´t know how to live and respect the differences.

Fortunately the structure, in its great majority, was able to be maintained, and that is the reason why nowadays it is possible to enjoy the wonderful Arabic architecture. But without a doubt, it is a strange feeling to see the figure of a crucified Christ under an Arab horseshoe arch, or the image of a Virgin between two Roman columns topped by a Cordovan caliph arch.

And this extravagance is what makes the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba an outstanding monument and worthy of the World Heritage recognition that it received in the year 1984.

Mosque of Cordoba
Mosque of Cordoba

And I dwell on this last sentence.

What does “Heritage of Humanity” mean?

In part, it is a “site of exceptional cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of mankind”, and “belongs to the country in which it is located, but is considered in the interest of the international community and must be preserved for future generations “.


Did you know that the  Mosque of Cordoba was registered by the Catholic Church in 2006 as a property of the Church for an amount of 30 euros?

It turns out that a Mortgage Law inherited from the Franco regime and reformed in 1998 by the then Government of Jose Maria Aznar allowed the Bishopric to register any property that had a minimum link with the Church without having to carry a justification and without having to make it public.

So by paying the fee of 30 euros the institution of the Church became the owner of a World Heritage Site that receives almost a million and a half visitors a year who pay a ticket of 10 euros (18 if the visit is nocturnal), plus the 2 euros that you can pay to climb the tower. Do the math. A great real estate investment, right?

And more bearing in mind that those who pay the arrangements and maintenance of the Mosque of Cordoba are not the ecclesiastics but the people with their taxes. And this is just one example of that “real estate boom” of the Church, who made thousands of properties from 1998 to date.

Yes, Ferdinand III ceded the right to the Church to use the Cathedral in 1236. But the right to use does not imply the right to own.

Mosque of Cordoba



I hope I have not offended anyone. This post does not speak about God or about faith. It does not criticize beliefs. It does not want to be more than it is. It simply raises a problem of corruption within an institution that should be neat and sacred.

I left the Mosque of Cordoba with a mixture of sensations. Overwhelmed by the architectural and historical wonder. Blurred by the reasons for that mix. And confused by the problem surrounding it.

Mosque of Cordoba Mosque of Cordoba Mosque of Cordoba


There are more stories about Cordoba. So I invite you to read about its patios, a quite happier story.


Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba

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