The New International Encyclopædia/Cordova

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CORDOVA, kôr′dō̇vȧ, or CÓRDOBA, kôr′dō̇-Bȧ (Lat. Corduba, from Phœnician Kartatuba, Great City). A city of Spain, and capital of the Province of Cordova, situated on the Guadalquivir, 120 miles by rail north of Malaga (Map: Spain, C 4). It lies at an altitude exceeding 390 feet at the base of the Sierra de Cordova. In appearance the city is less characteristically Moorish than might be supposed, its aspect being one rather of heterogeneity arising from the conglomerate architecture of various periods; it retains but few marks of the Saracen period, and but faintly recalls the grandeur of the former metropolis of Mohammedan Spain. The streets are with few exceptions narrow and crooked, and the houses gloomy. The finest edifice is the cathedral, once the chief mosque of the ‘Infidels,’ and one of the most splendid examples of Moorish architecture. Together with the court, it occupies a site 570 feet by 425 feet, with a bell-tower 300 feet in height. It is surrounded by a wall with strong buttresses, and was originally both mosque and fortress. The interior is almost a labyrinth of pillars, for they number some 850, in various styles and mostly of marble, porphyry, and jasper. The building has suffered considerably through the changes of different epochs, made in the endeavor to convert the mosque into a Christian cathedral. A short distance from the cathedral, to the south, stands the marble triumphal column, erected 1705, of San Rafael, the patron saint of Cordova. Among the Moorish remains are the ruined city walls, part of the Alcázar, and the old bridge of 16 arches, 730 feet long, connecting Cordova with its suburb. Campo de la Verda. The bridge, originally built by the Romans, was reconstructed on the same foundations by the Saracens. Cordova contains a large number of churches and convents, a bishop's palace, a theatre, and a bull-ring. The educational institutions include a lyceum, a theological seminary, a veterinary school, and a library.

Once a great centre of commerce, Cordova is in a state of decline, her local industries suffering in the general stagnation of the country. The railroad connection with Seville, Malaga, and Madrid brought in a little new life, but Cordova is still a city of the Middle Ages. There are manufactures of leather, liquors, hats, cloth, silk, and paper, besides the ancient silver-filigree industry for which Cordova has long been famous. Iron is mined in the vicinity. Population, in 1900, 56,097.

Cordova is said to have been founded by the Phœnicians, but was acquired B.C. 152 by the Romans. It rose to be the second city of Spain, the seat of a prætor and a supreme tribunal, and a centre of industry. Taken by the Goths in the sixth century, it fell in 711 into the hands of the Saracens. In 756 the city became the capital of an Ommiad realm, which existed till 1031 and embraced all Mohammedan Spain. This State, whose rulers at first were content with the title of Emir and finally assumed that of Caliph, rivaled in splendor the Eastern Caliphate of Bagdad, From the ninth century to the twelfth Cordova was one of the greatest centres of commerce in the world. According to Arabian historians the city at the height of its splendor contained 200,000 houses, a million inhabitants, 600 mosques, 80 institutions of learning, and a public library with 600,000 volumes. Such accounts are doubtless exaggerations, but certainly when all was dark over the rest of the Occidental World, Cordova held aloft the light of civilization. After the fall of the caliphate the decline was rapid: the city was taken by Ferdinand III. of Castile in 1236 and never afterwards regained its prosperity. Cordova was plundered by the French under Dupont iu 1808. It is noted as being the birthplace of the two Senecas, the poet Lucan, and the philosopher Averroës.