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Cordoba History

Welcome to a brief journey through the history of Cordoba.

The city is of Roman heritage. It goes back to an Iberian settlement which was occupied by the Romans in 169 B.C. Roman governor Claudius Marcelus developed the settlement, then known as Corduba, and made it the major town in the southern part of the Iberian peninsula. Remains of a Roman temple, a Roman bridge, and several other Roman remains can still be seen in and around Cordoba.

In the third century of our time Cordoba became seat of a bishop.

When Moors conquered the city in 711 after their victory over the Visigoths, a new era began. Cordoba became one of the most remarkable cities in the world.

Already five years later, in 716, Emir Al-Horr declared Cordoba an emirate under the rule of the caliphate of Damaskus. This state lasted for 40 years. In 756, Abd al-Rahman I took power oppressively and declared Cordoba an independent emirate with strong ties to Damaskus.

The year 785 marks the beginning of the construction of the world-famous Mezquita mosque where columns of an ancient temple were used.

In 833, the Mezquita received its first enlargement. Under the power of Abd-al Rahman II the city took a steady development. Cordoba became the first city with a central water supply, paved streets and street lighting. Numerous public bath houses were erected.

In the 10th century, Cordoba reached its very peak. in 929, ruler Abd al-Rahman III of the Umayyad dynasty declared Cordoba totally independent and founded the Caliphate of Cordoba. The economic and cultural development of the city picked up speed. Cordoba became the world’s largest city with about one million residents. It embodied a sophisticated culture and the most advanced bureaucracy in Europe. Cordoba had more than 1,000 mosques and about 600 public bath houses. As a result of this massive upturn, the magnificent and splendid palace city of Medina Azahara was built near Cordoba.

Al-Hakam II, a sponsor of art, culture and science, enlarged the Mezquita, built schools and a library with 500,000 volumes. He made Cordoba a scientific center. Therefore, Cordoba is named as the origin of Islamic law. However, Al-Hakam II lost sight of strategic policy which was a cornerstone for the later collapse of the caliphate.

In 987, the third and most extensive enlargement of the Mezquita began.

After 1000, the collapse of Cordoba was inevitable. In 1009, the palace city of Medina Azahara became looted and then destroyed. In the 1020s, the political structure collapsed and the so called Taifa Kingdoms separated from the caliphate. The astable rest of the caliphate became vulnerable to Christian attacks.

The year 1236 marks the begin of the Christian era in Cordoba. On June 29th of that year, Ferdinand III entered the city and retook the power. Cordoba became a center of activity against the remaining Muslim population. Dozens of churches and monasteries were erected over the following period.

In 1486, discoverer Christopher Columbus decided to live in Cordoba. He planned to bid for royal support for his intended expedition to the Indies, but the monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I gave permission to travel not before April 17th, 1492.

After Ferdinand II and Isabella I had beaten and expelled the last Moors, the so called Reconquista (recapture), including forced proselytization of people of different faith, got its peak with the erection of the Christian cathedral in the very center of the Cordoba mosque.

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