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There is no knowing for sure if ever the arcs of the north facade of the Mezquita were open to the Patio de los Naranjos. It was Ambrosio de Morales the first to note the issue around the XVIth century. Although, later, the Arab chronicles of the building confirmed it. The truth is that the mere thought of it comes with a poetic and monumental vision. For a long time there has been many who have tried to keep the left spans of the Mezquita from holding new chapels, so they could be cleared away towards the Patio de los Naranjos.

And this stand has resulted in a curious stained glass battle, precisely in a city where the monumental stained glass has not been of any importance, nor even throughout the Gothic, up until the late XXth century. It is somehow contradictory since Cordoba may very well have been the first European city to have stained glass in its windows. Despite none of that art has reached our time, the Umayyad buildings were richly garnished with colorful stained glass built not on lead but instead on plaster, wood or even marble frames. It is a fact that the history of Europe Gothic stained glass was born out of art pieces coming from Byzantium inspired by this Arab technique.

Lets take a look at the curious evolution of the stained glass of the Mezquita, now that the issue is of relevance in the city of Córdoba.

Around 1870. These incomplete rose windows presented a first effort of clearing the north wall arcs, and this picture, published in a old newspaper, the sole reminder of it. They compete in seniority with those installed in the halls of the Círculo de la Amistad in 1878, as they are known to have been ordered by the Bishop of Albuquerque around 1870 and they were placed in the six arcs that were at that time free of chapels. Namely, numbers 1, 3 and 15 to 18. As of today only two of them remain: 1 and 3. The first one is not easy to locate, number three, on the other hand, with little effort, has become the symbol of many souvenirs.

1916. In 1901 Narciso Sentenach writes an article for the Spanish Excursion Society Gazette denouncing the dreadful spectacle given by these stained glass of the north wall. His denounce does not go unnoticed, Velázquez Bosco (who will later lead the great restoration of the temple) tore them down when lowering the patio’s floor by 50 cm trying to expose the hidden column bases. Above you can see the elevation and the planar of the 1916 project designed by Velázquez Bosco, unfortunately it was never carried through.

1916-1946. Since Velázquez Bosco’s project never took place, the stained glass work remained unfinished and was temporarily sealed, some with wood battens some placing a brick wall. So they waited until the next effort in 1946. 30 years of temporary status that I hope it does not happen again.

1946. Félix Hernández (1889-1975) dedicated most of his professional career as an architect to study the great Islamic buildings in the country. In his works on the Mezquita he too raised the question regarding the connection the prayer room (Haram) and the patio (Sahn) should have between them. As if following Velázquez Bosco’s footsteps, Hernández wanted to reinstate the original natural light of the hall through those arcs of the patio’s facade that still were not chapels. To that end, he projected a stained glass to close the space in one the halls. This stained glass should have a geometric design of little complexity and zero Islamic influence. He designed a plain stained glass on a brass frame. This sort of technique is widely used in the city to protect big patios and arc galleries from bad weather. His design  included a grid-shaped frame, in the same vein of the previous work by Velázquez Bosco, though in this case there were no curved elements. The resulting squares were completed with a geometrical lattice. Due to shortcomings in the budget only one arc, number 16, could be finished.

Rafael de La Hoz’s stained glass-latticework seen from the interior of the temple.

 1972 is the year the stained glass designed by Hernández is taken down –due to its frail disposition it had badly endured time– in order to build four beautiful latticeworks made of red cedar wood and thick crafted glass. Concerned with the amount of natural light that the four openings will bring to the halls, Rafael de La Hoz designed very thick lattices to dim the light into the temple. Finally, the four stained glass can be developed, the very same that neither Velázaquez Bosco nor Félix Hernández could bring to a happy ending.

Current state of arc number 16.

2016. After a long and bitter dispute among Rafael de La Hoz’s relations and the City Hall, the first ones managed to take down one the architect’s latticeworks to open an extra gate that will make way to the Holy Week processions. As of today it is unknown the sort of sealing that will add to the long list of nomadic history of the Mezquita’s stained glass, since its installation has been further delayed for a year.


NOTE: 19 arcs match the 19 halls of the temple, and they all lie in the north wall beside the Patio de los Naranjos. One counts them east to west.



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