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Córdoba’s greatest years of glory, however, were from 756 to 1031, when it was the capital of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). It was during this period that the Great Mosque was built, the first part in the 8th century and the fourth and final section, in the late 10th century. Its progressive growth mirrored the increasing importance of Córdoba, which in the 10th century was the largest and greatest city in Europe.
Its size at its peak is debatable; estimates have ranged from an unlikely 1.000.000 to 90,000, still a significant number when no other city in Europe exceeded 50,000. The city dazzled with its civilised air and multicultural activity, with Muslims, Jews, and Christians (called mozárabes) mingling at all levels. The Christians enjoyed the privilege of being served by a bishop, while in the 10th century the Jews could count on the services of the extraordinary figure of Hasdai ibn Shaprut, personal physician to the Caliph, adviser, diplomat, scholar, benefactor and patron.
The idea that Cordoba House is some kind of beachhead for a Shariah-inspired takeover of America is absurd, of course, and that kind of fear mongering simply feeds the flames of the Islamic radicals and their insane dream of a clash of civilizations. Nevertheless, constructing a mosque that close to Ground Zero is insensitive and unnecessary.