An episcopal complex under the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Archaeological excavation work in the Patio de los Naranjos of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Archaeological excavation work in the Patio de los Naranjos of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

A archaeological excavation under the Patio de los Naranjos of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is revealing the secrets that history keeps about this monument and that point to the existence of a great episcopal complex of the 5th century which was the nerve center of the city before the Caliphate era.

The professor of archeology at the University of Córdoba (UCO), Alberto León, has explained to Efe that the excavation is based on the one “initiated by the architect Félix Hernández in 1934” and that it had to be paralyzed by the Civil War. However, already in 2015 the UCO opted for the “digitization of archive holdings de Hernández “and deepened in the investigation of this excavation in the Patio de los Naranjos, which had among its objectives to search for evidence of the famous basilica of San Vicente on which the Mosque-Cathedral would supposedly rise later.

And what was found now, in a excavation with “modern techniques” and that has gone beyond that of the previous century, points to the existence of an “episcopal complex” with its administrative center, the baptistery and the church, which “would exceed the limits of the current Mosque-Cathedral and would extend to the Guadalquivir river.” The findings allow us to glimpse a “portico with a vestibule”, a monumental building with a wall of “more than 30 meters in length” from the 5th century, as well as the foundations of the first minaret of the Mosque of Córdoba from the 8th century.

León has highlighted that the building from the Visigothic period it had an “ideological weight” that was later swept away by the Muslims, who reused the existing materials to build their own buildings, mainly the great Mosque of Córdoba.

Even if excavation continues and will last for a few months, the narrowness of the area and the fact of not being able to touch the orange trees too much to avoid their loss will slow down the research project “which should be extended to the west”. For his part, Raimundo Ortiz, archaeologist from the Cordoba Cathedral Chapter, explained to Efe that they have worked meticulously to avoid that “the orange trees could fall or suffer some damage” and they have been “withdrawing the fillings and spills from the Hernández excavation.”

The first thing that was found was evidence of the use of the Patio de Los Naranjos as a “parish cemetery of the Cathedral”, followed by buildings from the Islamic period “prior to the construction of the Mosque” and even the foundations of the first minaret of the temple and that they can help to date “chronologically other excavations in the city.” But delving deeper into the “stratification” of the area, we find those “previous walls of the episcopal complex“before the” Islamic invasion “and showing a great building from the beginning of the 5th to the 8th century.

From a previous time “we don’t know anything”, since it has not reached that far, but what has been found so far allows us to redefine in some way the history of the city of Córdoba within the Iberian Peninsula in Visigothic times. Some “important” and “revealing” finds that should go further with excavations future in which we would like to find data that show “the functions of this building”, the “exact delimitations of the same” or other buildings from Roman times of which “there is no evidence in the area.”

And meanwhile, researchers from around the world continue to await the findings for their interpretation and thus redefine the history of one of the most universal monuments on which it is debated whether it was before a Mosque or a Church, although everything points to his episcopal origin.


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