Primitive Main Chapel
As we already mentioned in the introduction, after the conquest of the city by Fernando III el Santo in 1236, and after the consecration of the old Mosque, a new Main Chapel was created, whose apse was located in the skylight at the entrance of Al-Hakam II’s extension, which is known today with the name of Lucernario de Villaviciosa (Skylight of Villaviciosa). The choir was placed between the skylight and the western wall of the building; this space occupied the first three sections of Al-Hakam II’s extension in the five naves in the west.
The choir is the place reserved for the capitular clergy to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and attend the services of the Main Altar, although this did not seem the most appropriate place for that. On the other hand, it is important to understand the social and political situation of the time, as we already mentioned in previous sections, as there were permanent war conflicts between Christians and Muslims. This caused that the remodelling of the choir was not carried out until the end of the 15th century with Bishop Iñigo Manrique.
The result of the works was a wide, spacious and lighted Gothic nave, characterised by its great austerity. In spite of its current state, it was once one of the most and best decorated places in the Mosque-Cathedral, where its walls were adorned with beautiful medieval paintings, many of which can be seen in the Museum of Fine Arts of our city.
In 1607, when the works in the transept of the current Main Chapel are finished, its name changes to Chapel of Villaviciosa, which is its current name nowadays. With time, the chapel suffered several transformations, such as the use of Baroque domes, which were placed to cover the medieval structures, or the famous Solomonic altarpiece still preserved in the Convento de Jesús Crucificado (Convent of Crucified Jesus).
The Baroque chapel was destroyed at the end of the 19th century to unveil the work from the time of the caliphs. This was finished by the architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco years later.
If we pay attention to purely formal aspects, we will notice that the floor of the old Main Chapel has the shape of a basilica, whose apse is oriented towards the east, following the tradition of almost all the churches in Córdoba at the time, like those so called fernandines, which will have a special section on our website. The pillars hold moulded and supporting arches which reinforce the dome. Among them, we can see the different sections which are part of the wooden gable roof, which in turn is formed by square panels decorated with Arabesque paintings. The light comes through Gothic glass splayed windows, located in the second section, as well as through a small rose window on the western wall.
If you wish to know the old Main Chapel 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.