How a Single Building Transformed My Perception of Sacred Spaces

Visiting the mezquita of Córdoba

Christopher P Jones


Occasions when a building moves us emotionally are rare.

It seems almost impossible that a stone-cold structure could do such a thing as prompt feelings — until it happens, and then there is no doubt.

A small number of buildings have stirred me in this way: the Pantheon in Rome, the interior of Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Ryōgen-in temple and dry garden in Kyoto, and the first time I visited the Alhambra in Andalusia, Spain.

The sense is one of awakening. To walk around a beautiful building, especially one steeped in history and a deep cultural tradition, is to experience a sort of unfolding revelation of what’s possible. It also feels like a gentle coaxing towards a fresh idea, a bloom of sensations slowly condensing into something profoundly pure. A new way of seeing, perhaps.

That’s certainly the effect that the Mosque of Córdoba had on me.

Photo by Anastasia Saldatava on Unsplash

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