arcuated squinches

Dome in Front of the Mihrab, Great Mosque, Cordoba, Spain 961-965

Built during the major renovation of the mosque by Al-Hakam II, this highly decorated and celebrated dome topped the screen maqsura, a private space for the ruler.  The first Islamic dynasty in Spain, the Spanish Umayyad’s reached their apogee at this time under Al-Hakam II.  This dome was a great innovation, as was the maqsura and the entire room mihrab.  In addition to the rest of the decorated prayer hall, the renovations under Al-Hakam stress kingship, best evidenced by this highly decorated area.  The decorative forms of the dome highlight its structural elements and show a masterful interplay of geometric forms…which is at the hears of Islamic decoration.  The dome rests upon an octagonal base with arcuated squinches.  Byzantine craftsmen were brought in to work on the dome, showing the reach…the power and political ties of the Spanish Umayyads.  The capital of their dynasty was Cordoba and their great mosque was considered one of the greatest medieval buildings by both Christians and Muslims alike.

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