al-Hakam II doors
We have decided to dedicate a brief section to the three doors closing the western wall of the Mosque-Cathedral. Originally, the three of them entered the prayer hall erected by Caliph Al-Hakam II in the second half of the 10th century, and that is why we wanted to address them as a whole.
The first of them is the Door of the Holy Spirit. It is an access that had been bricked up until the beginning of the 20th century, when Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, with the help of the sculptor Mateo Inurria, started its restoration to give it back its initial magnificence. The Door of Saint Ildephonsus, further south, is very similar. In fact, if we take a closer look at the compositional schemes, they are almost identical. The lintelled alcove at the entrance with a blind horseshoe arch and alfiz becomes a dominant practice all along the western wall, although over it we now find a series of small interwoven blind horseshoe arches, which give the ensemble a greater dynamism. On both sides of the doors, latticework can be found decorated with geometrical elements which are also interwoven and surrounded by polilobed arches.
Between the mentioned doors, we can see the one Miguel Salcedo Hierro called the door of the three names, refering to the three names the access has had along its extended history. It has been known as Door of Saint Peter, due to its proximity to the old Chapel of Saint Peter and Saint Lawrence, or as the Door of the Dove, considered a sacred animal by Islam, as it is believed that doves gathered to protect Mohammed during his Hegira from Mecca to Medina. The third name for this door, and the one which is most frequently used nowadays, is the Palace Side Door, undoubtedly due to its proximity to the Episcopal Palace. According to its composition, it is one of the most interesting doors, as the Muslim elements (horseshoe arch, alfiz…) and the Christian ones (gable, flouron, mouldings…) are properly interwoven, thus giving the ensemble a great harmony and remarkable originality.
If we pay close attention, these three doors have big buttresses on both sides, and the distance between them is similar. However, the distance between the two following ones is much shorter, just enough to place between them a small entrance alcove, where its location does not seem to make much sense. The distance between the two buttresses corresponds to the width of the passageway or Sabat, which was used by the Caliph to get in and out of the temple undisturbed, and the small access we see is its exterior door, leading to a small bridge, which was destroyed at the beginning of the 17th century and connected the Mosque with the Umayyad Fortress.
If you wish to know Al-Hakam’s doors and therefore the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We are experts in the interpretation of the historic heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.