Nowadays, The Mosque of Cordoba, is a mixture of superpositioned architectural styles, that succeeded each other and coupled up along the 9 centuries, during which time all the different constructions and reforms took place. It seems as if there was not a generation that could not resist building and leaving a mark on this unique building, with an original physiognomy.
The construction of the Mosque of Cordoba, began towards the end of the 8th century (785), during the reign of Abd alRahman I, who built it on the site of the Visigoth Church of San Vicente, but changing the orientation of the new Mosque floor plan. It had 11 naves, aligned North to South, being the central nave the biggest in width, and the Orange Tree Courtyard (Patio de los Naranjos).
The Mosque of Cordoba has an exterior battlement wall and large square fortified towers, between which there are the different entrances to the building. There are a great selection of columns capitals; Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite; nearly all of them are Roman and Byzantine creations, since many of them were re-used from the San Vicente Christian Monastery. In 833, Abd alRahman II expanded the Mosque towards the South, and he built a new “alminar” (minaret). This second construction by Abd alRahman II offered a novelty, the removal of the bases, he also added beautiful column capitals, some of which were also from the previous Visigoth Basilic, and some were made by local workmen of Cordoba precisely for this building.
The richest enlargement was under the rule of AlHakam II in 961. This new expansion is the nicest of all, standing out its dome, which was a contribution of the Cordovan culture of the 10th century. It is also remarkable for its beautiful stone works, as well as for how the archways are displayed, closing and giving access to this unique building.
Finally, the leader, Almanzor, completed the building expanding it to the east by adding another 8 naves, giving the building its actual size, including the Orange Tree Courtyard ('Patio de los Naranjos). This last constructive work is more regular, not only in the use of normal materials but also in the fact that it is more harmonious than the previous ones. This new expansion had not so much impact and importance as the previous ones, because this is the period when Caliphate started declining. At a glance, you can see the columns have not got the elegant firmness that the previous constructions had, and the capitals of the different columns imitate those of AlHakam II.