Hall of the Mosaics
After crossing the entrance gallery, we can see the so-called Hall of the Mosaics, a clearly Baroque hall. Built in the 18th century, it is located in the northern wall of the Alcázar, right above the vaults of the Royal Mudejar Baths. Since its construction, it has been Chapel of the Inquisition and, later, Chapel of the Prison.
The current Hall of the Mosaics has a rectangular floor, covered by a vault with lunettes and supporting arches, decorated with geometrical motifs, typical of the Córdoba of the first part of the 18th century. At the end, one can find a square space, covered by a vault over pendentives formed by round arches. This vault has a cupola at the top, decorated in the outside with geometrical motifs and finishing in balls.
The reason for the name of this hall is that its walls are decorated by numerous mosaics, all of them of a high quality. The mosaics displayed here were brought from the underground of the Corredera Square, where in earlier times it was thought that the remains of the old Roman amphitheatre were found, but nowadays this hypothesis is not considered.
Near the entrance of the hall there is the mosaic of the Ocean, where Uranus and Gea’s son, the God of the waters, is represented. He is presented in the centre of the composition, surrounded by marine creatures, showing all the expressive force. Of huge proportions, his eyebrows and cheeks are covered by membranes and scales, while dolphins emerge from his thick beard.
The largest mosaic in the hall is the one located on its left side, occupying almost all its surface. It has a rectangular shape and a border decorated with dolphins and anchors, framing the central theme, based on linear and geometrical motifs.
We must also pay attention to the mosaic located over the left entrance of the hall, where a mime is reproduced during a theatrical representation. In this case, unlike the previous examples, the author has tried to provide the work with depth, as can be seen in the building at the background of the composition. The mime seems to be about to imitate somebody, and he is represented with a mask and a walking stick.
On the right of the hall, there is a mosaic which is incomplete in its lower left margin, and it represents the four seasons of the year, all of them displayed in tondos framed with small twisted columns. The central theme is about the fable of Psiche and Cupid, represented embracing each other.
Finally, it is important to mention the most celebrated work of those in this hall, that is, the mosaic of Polyphemus and Galatea. The great poet and writer from Córdoba Luis de Góngora wrote:
Oh beautiful Galatea, softer
Than the carnations broken by Dawn;
Whiter than the wings of that bird
Which sweetly dies and in the water lives;
As luxurious as the bird which, gravely,
Gilds its blue cloak with as many eyes
As sapphire stars there are in heaven.
Oh, you include the most beautiful ones in two!
Undoubtedly, this work shows off an exceptional virtuosity from an expert hand. The treatment of the anatomy of the characters deserves praise, as well as its composition as a whole, from the water over which Galatea is to the rock where Polyphemus is sitting, or the mountainous background closing the scene.
If you are not sure what to do in Córdoba, we recommend you visit the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs and its Hall of the Mosaics hiring one of our guided tours. Choose to do high quality sightseeing with qualified staff. Do not hesitate, ArtenCórdoba is the best option.