Door of the Palms
An inscription located on the Door of the Palms tells us that the caliph commanded to reinforce the northern façade of the prayer hall of the old Mosque, as it was in danger of collapse: "Allah’s servant, the emir of the believers has commanded… the restoration of this façade and its consolidation, in order to highlight the worshipping ceremonies to Allah and keep the sacred character of his dwellings… These works were finished with the help of Allah, in the month of Du-l-hiyya of the year 346 under the care of his liberated slave, his prime minister and his aid Abd Allah ibn Badr. Work by Said ibn Ayub". The repair consisted in the collocation of a wall in the front façade with eleven horseshoe arches, where the central one, the one we are discussing, was the biggest. The inscription also tells us that the works were dated in February-March 958 and they were carried out by the recently appointed Caliph Abd al-Rahman III.
The Door of the Palms, as it is known today, was also known as Arch of the Blessings, probably refering, as Manuel Nieto Cumplido suggests, to the act of blessing the royal banner at the royal coronation of a new king. Nieto Cumplido continues explaining that the Senior Second Lieutenant, after bowing before the Holy Cross on three occasions, would give the royal banner to the Senior Lieutenant and the Te Deum was sung.
In the 14th century, the two small blind polilobed arches on the sides were made, one of them with the inscription we mentioned at the beginning. In the year 1553 Hernán Ruiz I the Old built the pavillion crowning the door, decorated with a stunning relief representing the scene of "The Annunciation of Mary", and it presents the inscription: "Hoc sacrum opus angelicae salutationis divae Mariae Virgini dicatum frater Joannes a Toleto sculpendum curavit episcopatus sui anno decimo nativitatis vero Domini Nostri MDXXXIII". The two images, the "Virgin" and the "Angel", were individually treated, each of them in an alcove covered by a scallop shell, flanked in turn by columns which become thinner as they go up to the capital. The conservation state is not ideal, although the high quality of its composition can be appreciated in rough outlines.
As for the decoration inside the Door of the Palms by Juan Sequero de Matilla, the barrel vault disappeared when they replaced the wooden ceiling. The Holy water fonts, the plaster frames with the canvases of "Saint Peter" and "Saint Paul", which made the room richer, also disappeared. The canvases are not preserved, and in their place, they put a board of Pope John Paul II and the crest of Bishop Infantes Florido, which are not there either nowadays, due to the previous Pope passing away and the changing of Bishop in the diocese.
The construction of the traces of the storm door through which we can access the inside of the temple is attributed to Tomás Jerónimo de Pedrajas around the year 1725, while the works were extended until 1732. Two Roman milestones were placed, found in 1533 when building the foundations of the new Main Chapel, on both sides of the arch. On the one of the right, we can read: "IMP. CAESAR. DIVI. F. / AVGVSTVS COS. XIII. TRIB. / POTEST. XXI. PONTIF. MAX. / A. BAETE. ET. IANO. AVGVST. / AD. OCEANVM. / LXIIII.". Tomás Fernández Moreno claims that, around the year 1614, its letters were "golden to make them more decorative", but due to the passing of the years, in 1730 there were barely any remains of the golden colour.
If you wish to know the Door of the Palms of 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.