Spanish campaigners are accusing the Catholic Church of trying to cover up the rich Islamic history of Cordoba’s Cathedral.
The world heritage site, originally a mosque, is one of the most famous Islamic sites in Europe, but critics say that visitors coming to learn about the site’s history are left none the wiser by the information leaflets on offer there.
Antonio Manuel Rodriguez, a law professor at Cordoba University said “For the citizens of Cordoba, what has hurt our feelings is that they have cut off the name and the memory of the monument.”
The professor is a member of a secular group of local campaigners who have gathered over 146,000 signatures on a petition demanding that the common Islamic and Christian heritage of the site be recognised.
British architect Norman Foster is among the signatories, as well as many Spanish writers, scientists and Catholics.
The site, located in what was once the capital of Islamic Spain in the Middle Ages, draws more than a million visitors each year.
Visitors receive an entry ticket that reads: “welcome to the Santa Iglesia Cathedral”. However, it fails to mention that the building, now administered by the church, was a mosque for centuries.
The “Save the Cordoba Mosque” petition says “over the past few years, the Diocese of Cordoba has erased the term ‘mosque’ from all the information leaflets of what is recognised worldwide as a symbol of cultural harmony.
“This offers millions of tourists a distorted historical account, which crudely adulterates the essence of a complex building and an emblem of diversity.”