Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

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Mosque of Cristo de la Luz.

The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz is a former mosque in Toledo, Spain. It is the one of the ten that existed in the city during the Moorish period. The edifice was then known as Mezquita Bab-al-Mardum, deriving its name from the city gate Bab al-Mardum. It is located near the Puerta del Sol, in an area of the city once called Medina where wealthy Muslims used to live.


Built in 999 in Toledo, this building is a rarity in that it is in much the same state as it was when it was originally built.[1] The building is a small square structure. It measures roughly 8 m × 8 m. Four columns capped with Visigothic capitals divide the interior into nine compartments. Covering each of these bays is a vault that has a distinctive design that is unique unto itself. The central vault is higher than the other ones and acts as a cupola for the structure. Each vault employs the use of ribs to create the designs that make them unique. Each of them follows the basic ideas of Islamic design. The ribs typically do not cross in the center, an idea that is seen in many Muslim designs. Some of the designs are more rectilinear while others embrace the curved forms of the vault more prominently. Within each one is a piece of their culture and tradition of building.[1] The columns and the capitals both had been taken from previous buildings and are therefore known as spolia. The building is constructed of brick and small stones. These techniques are a reflection of both the local building tradition as well as the influence from the caliphate in Córdoba. The influence of the caliphate can be seen in the brickwork on the facade of the building which resembles those seen at the Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba. Both Mosque of Cristo de la Luz with Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba are the oldest examples of the islamic culture at Spain.[2] Originally the Eastern wall was a continuous stretch of brick and served as the qibla wall for the mosque. Also located along this side would have been a mihrab used for worship. The other three facades are articulated by three-bay arcades. All are similar, but individual in their decoration.[3] The Western wall which served as the main entrance is unique in how the arcade is articulated. This facade has a lobed arch, horseshoe arch, and a wider version of a horseshoe arch. Brickwork arches provide the decoration for the facade which are influenced by the architecture in Córdoba. In later years a Mudejar semi-circular apse was added. In the process of the addition the qibla wall and mihrab were lost. The use of the mudejar style provided a smooth transition from the original structure to the apse, as the addition uses the same style of decoration and materials as the original. The continuation of the arch motif is an important link between the two sections of the building.[4]


An inscription written with brick in Kufic script on the south-west facade reveals the details of the mosque's foundation:

Bismila (in the name of Allah). Ahmad ibn Hadidi had this mosque erected using his own money requesting a reward in paradise for it from Allah. It was completed with the aid of Allah under the direction of Musa ibn Alí, architect and Sa'ada, and concluded in Muharram in 390 (Islamic calendar).[5]

Legend has it that a shaft of light guided the king to a figurine of the crucified Christ that had been hidden for centuries. He left his shield there with the inscription, "This is the shield which the King Alfonso VI left in this chapel when he conquered Toledo, and the first mass was held here".[1]

In 1186, Alfonso VIII gave the building to the Knights of the Order of St John, who established it as the Chapel of the Holy Cross (Ermita de la Santa Cruz). It was at this time that the mosque was renamed and the apse was added.

General info[edit]

It is located in Toledo Spain. It was converted into a church around 1085. This occurred when Toledo was taken control of by Christians. There is a legend surrounding this building. It is said that King Alfonso VI arrived in Toledo after his victory of capturing the city in 1085 when his horse fell in front of this chapel. The story tells that candle has been continuously burning in the cracks of the stone wall throughout the entire rule of Muslims and when the King further explored the place he discovered a crucifix. The crucifix was moved to the Santa Cruz Museum located in the same city. It is said that the first mass after the King’s victory of Toledo was held here.[6]

It has a square shape which measures 8m by 8m, or about 26 feet by 26 feet long and has a semicircle part attached to it which is the head of the cross shape.

It was added to the back of the building in the 12th century even though the building is square since it was converted in to a church, they tried to make it seem more Christian like adding features from Christian churches that were typically cross shaped.

The highest arch inside the building is 30 feet which is the central dome and the ribs form a star shape that looks like a crown.[7] The inside has four columns and makes nine square areas and has a dome. It has a qibla wall on the south east. This section is slightly bigger than the others and is where the mihrab is located.[8] There is a small garden next to the building with a small fountain in the center.[6] On the outside there are horse-shoe shaped aches. It was originally renamed Mezquita Bab-al-Mardum which comes from the city gate with the same name. Despite its small size, it is very well preserved making it the only Moorish mosque in the city that didn't have any huge changes to it. It has Moorish and early Gothic elements such as the Kufic script and the heads of the columns. There are also ribs in the domes in each section that relate to early Gothic architecture.[9] The building is made mostly from brick and stone.[10]

It is an example of Mudejar architecture from the altar, domed part, and transept (arms of the cross shape). It was built in 999 during the Ummayed dynasty and the patron was Ahmad Ibn Hadidi. The Arabic inscription in Kufic on the building states that Musa Ibn Ali built it.[6]

King Alfonso VIII decided to give the building to the Order of the Hospital of the Holy Cross in 1182. Christian elements were added to it after such as the semi circle dome at the top of the altar and murals of Christian figures. One of which is located in the east end of the church of Christ. The building was influenced by other mosques such as Great Mosque of Cordoba from the blind arches and the vaults (arched roof).

The four columns inside the building.

You need to pay normally around 3 euros to enter but children are allowed free entry.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pareja, Antonio. Mezquita de Bab al Mardum, Cristo de la Luz, Toledo 999-1999. [Spain]:Fundacíon Cultura y Deporte Castilla-La Mancha, Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, 1999.
  2. ^ "Una visita a Toledo: la ciudad de las tres culturas". Vipealo. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  3. ^ Lapunzina, Alejandron. Architecture of Spain. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2005.
  4. ^ Dodds, Jerrilynn Denise, Maria Rosa Menocal, and Abigail Krasner Balbale. The arts of intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the making of Castilian culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
  5. ^ 13 December 999 – 11 January 1000 AD
  6. ^ a b c "Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz - Toledo, Spain". Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  7. ^ "Bab Mardum Mosque – An inspiration for Gothic? « Muslim Heritage". Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  8. ^ "Discover Islamic Art - Virtual Museum - monument_ISL_es_Mon01_3_en". Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  9. ^ Saoud, Rabah (January 2002). "A Review on Architecture in Muslim Spain and North Africa (756-1500 AD)" (PDF). Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization: 8–9.
  10. ^ a b TURESPAÑA (2007-04-23). "Monuments in Toledo, Spain: Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz. Cultural tourism in Castile la Mancha, Spain". Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  • King, G., “The Mosque Bab Mardum in Toledo and the Influences Acting Upon It” in: Art and Archaeology Research Papers, 2, 1972, pp. 29–40.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°51′38″N 4°1′27.3″W / 39.86056°N 4.024250°W / 39.86056; -4.024250