Opening hours for visiting the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba are long. Tickets are best bought online but are also sold onsite. The best time to visit is early morning (sometimes free).
The Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba is one of the top sights to see in Andalucia. It is one of the most important Islamic buildings in Spain but as a working Roman Catholic Church, opening hours are influenced by religious services. Opening hours for tourists are fairly long but shorter on Sundays and religious holidays. Tickets are fairly pricey and sold onsite or online. Tours are sensible alternatives to ensure skip-the-line admission to avoid queuing inline on warm days. Early birds may get in for free.
Visitors Information for the Mezquita in Córdoba
The opening hours of the Mezquita for tourists visits are fairly long but do note that the whole building is cleared prior to religious services — it is not possible to reenter later in the day on the same ticket. This is especially important on Sundays and some holidays when services are held around noon — although tickets are sold and admission possible until half an hour before closing time, visitors will be moved towards the exit from around 20 minutes prior to closing time.
Opening Hours of the Mezquita-Cathedral in Córdoba
The Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral is open for tourist and sightseeing purposes:
The Mezquita is currently open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00. On Saturday, the Mezquita is open from 10:00 to 19:00. On Sunday, it is open from 8:30 to 11:30 and 16:00 to 19:00.
Hours are expected to increase again during 2022 with the midday break likely to be canceled. Time-slot reservation tickets are currently mostly available only a month in advance
Although not listed on the official website, the Mezquita is usually open Monday to Saturday for free from 8:30 to 9:20.
On some nights, the special “Soul of Cordoba” light and sound show takes place after dark. Special admission tickets are required.
Opening hours vary during religious holidays and festivals. Check opening times online not only for major holidays but also to not be caught out by local festivals. Cordoba Tourism Office also has a useful online opening hour page for major sights.
The Bell Tower (€3) is open with access starting every half-hour from 9:30 to 18:30. Be on time, it is not possible to join the tour late.
Mass in the Mezquita is daily, except Sunday, in Spanish, at 9:30 — it is usually possible to continue sightseeing afterward for free.
Mass on Sunday is at noon and 13:30 — sightseeing afterward is usually not possible.
Smaller services are also held in the Parroquia del Sagrario — admission to this chapel is directly from the street and staying on afterward for sightseeing in the Mezquita is not possible. These services also do not influence the opening hours of the rest of the building.
Best Times to Visit the Mezquita in Córdoba
The best time to visit the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral is early morning or late afternoon — later than 16:00. Day-trip tours from Seville, Malaga, Granada, the Costa del Sol, and even Madrid generally arrive from 11:00 onwards and leave by 16:00. Ditto for visitors seeing the Mezquita on a short stop-over en route to the tourist hotspots. Early morning has the advantage of being free, although the treasury and cathedral part will be closed. Guided tours are not allowed at this hour.
The Mezquita is busiest on Saturday and Sunday, although the current mid-day closing stacks the tourists a bit into shorter hours on all days.
The high season for tourist trips to Córdoba is late spring, early summer — April to June — with Easter Week particularly busy but other festivals very common too. September to mid-November is also a popular time to visit the Mezquita. Córdoba in summer (July & August) is VERY hot.
Buying Tickets for the Mezquita
Tickets for the Mezquita are a rather hefty €11 with only children 10 to 14 receiving discounts of €6, and free for children under 10. Students (-26) or seniors (65+) pay €9. Buy tickets online from the Mezquita or on-site (prices are the same).
The “Soul of Cordoba” light and sound show is €18 — see below.
The bell tower is €3 — tickets and reservations at a different table just below the tower, if not purchased online. Be on time, as it is not possible to join the tour late.
As the Mezquita is still a fully functioning Roman Catholic Church the usual dress code is applied such as no hats or caps and no bare shoulders or knees.
Bags bigger than a small day pack are not allowed inside and there is no storage for luggage or strollers. Book luggage storage online in Cordoba.
Guided Tours of the Mezquita in Córdoba
Information provided inside the Mezquita is rather limited. A good guidebook, audio guide, multimedia guide, or guided tour may be needed to fully appreciate the architecture, art, and history of the building.
Although the Mezquita is not as busy as the Real Alcazar and Cathedral in Seville, or especially the Nasrid Palace in the Alhambra in Granada, waiting can still be an issue on busy days. Guided tours are a good option to ensure admission at a specific time on a given day and often offer good value. The availability of online tickets directly from the Mezquita will hopefully put an end to skip-the-line resellers that simply provide the ticket at twice the price.
Combination tours with other sights in Córdoba may offer better value — walking tours of the adjacent old Jewish quarter are very popular. The Alcazar of the Catholic Kings is often included — the building should not be confused with the very impressive Real Alcazar in Seville but the gardens are very pleasant.
Guided tours of the Mezquita are usually just over an hour, which is sufficient to see the highlights. Afterward, tour members may stay longer inside if preferred. Tours that include a climb of the tower, which is done unguided, usually allow for an hour extra time.
Night Visits to the Mezquita
The Soul of Córdoba is a nighttime visit to the Mezquita with audio guides arranged by the cathedral. These visits take around an hour and are restricted to a maximum of 100 people, which still leaves the vast Mezquita fairly empty.
The audioguide is done by the Cathedral so some may find it a bit heavy on the Roman Catholic and Christian tradition but the Mezquita, which is fairly dark during the day, is beautifully lit on these visits.
The Soul of Córdoba night visits to the Mezquita is €18 (€12 for seniors, children, and students up to 26, free for children under 7). Tickets are best bought online in advance but are also available from the regular ticket office in the Patio de los Naranjas.
During winter, the tours are usually on Friday and Saturday but the rest of the year daily except on Sunday. Tour times depend on the season and start between 20:00 and 23:00 and last for an hour.
See the Mezquita in Córdoba for Free
Although not clearly published on the official website, it is possible to enter the Mezquita for free on weekdays and Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:20. The building is gradually evacuated from around 9:10 onwards so be early rather than late.
During this period, access to the choir and transept are roped off but most visitors could probably still see enough to satisfy basic curiosity. The treasury is also closed (but its appeal is fairly limited anyway) while some chapels may be unlit. The best parts of the Mezquita – the glorious original prayer hall with its forest of pillars with red-and-white horseshoe-shaped and Roman arches are fully accessible.
To get the most out of the free hour, be at the Mezquita at opening time. Visitors are only allowed into the orange tree courtyard when the bells ring — the Puerta de los Deanes in Calle Torrijos is the closest to the entrance into the Mezquita (Puerta de las Palmas) used for free visits. Get there first so as not to lose time in the security check line.
Many visitors may find this 45 minutes quite sufficient to see the Mezquita, especially if not interested in the various chapels. (Many have fine art but better may be seen elsewhere.) For more time return another day or buy a ticket and enter again later in the day or attend the short 9:30 service (in Spanish) and stay on for more sightseeing afterward — not officially allowed but churchgoers are rarely forced out, except on Sunday when hours are different.
Afterward, make a reservation to see the bell tower before the masses arrive.
Climbing the Bell Tower of the Mezquita in Córdoba
The bell tower of the Mezquita may be climbed separately from seeing the Mezquita itself. Admission is €3 — no discounts. Buy these tickets and make a time-slot reservation at the special desk right at the bottom of the tower, or even more sensible, buy online with a time-slot reservation.
Visitors climb the tower in groups of 20 with the tour starting every half hour from 9:30 to 17:30 (18:30 in summer). Be on time, as it is not possible to catch up once the tour has started. (It is not a guided tour — the accompanying official basically just unlocks the various gates.)
The climb is fairly simple with good staircases and not particularly narrow passages. The three main stops are the top of the Baroque cupola of the Puerta del Perdon, the first set of bells, and the upper-level terrace with the second set of bells. During the climb, visitors also see some of the decorations of the encased Moorish minaret.
The views of Córdoba and the Guadalquivir valley are magnificent — the bell tower is at 54 m by far the highest structure in the region. Particularly interesting is the view of the Mezquita roof to see how the transept and flying buttresses were added to the otherwise low-roofed building.
See also Visiting the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba for more on this fantastic site and Seeing the Mezquita on Day Trips and Stopovers for more on visiting Cordoba from, or en route to, other Spanish cities.