First Enlargement (821-852)
Abderraman II (822) enlarged the prayer hall in eight sections to the south, with a clear Abbasid influence on the decoration, the result of political contacts with the Eastern Caliphate and the arrival of figures from the East to the Peninsula. Mohamed I gives definitive form to the Gate of Saint Stephen, whose true origin is unknown, although its aesthetic position between Visigothic art and the Caliph of Córdoba seems clear. The previous emir was succeeded by Al-Mundir and Abd-Allah. The first raises the room of the treasure, of which the definitive location is not known. The second will build a secret passageway or sabat that would unite the Caliphate Alcazar with the mihrab.
Second Enlargement (S. X)
In 929, Abderraman III proclaimed himself a caliph, and Cordoba became the capital of the largest and most influential Islamic kingdom in the West. The only intervention of the Alhama was a new minaret and the enlargement of the courtyard. The minaret became the first in the west. Abderraman was also forced to reinforce the arches that connected the covered oratory with the patio of the ablutions, deformed by the thrust of the naves. In the main entrance door to the temple from the courtyard he places a large horseshoe arch over the existing one and builds a barrel vault between the two. In the same century, as Caliph Alhaken II, culture and all the aesthetic and literary arts were considerably promoted. Also during this period, political and cultural contacts with the great eastern capital of Byzantium increased.
Alhakem II adds twelve more sections, getting closer to the course of the Guadalquivir, reaching the definitive depth of today. All the materials that were used are expressly for the work. Pink and blue marble shafts are alternated and capitals called pencas are made, resulting in a schematization of the classical orders. In the qibla or final wall of the construction, is the mihrab or niche to which the prayers are addressed. This wall, due to the pressures endured, was built in a double form, which ensured the solidity of the construction. The maqsura, or space in front of the mihrab, is located right on this wall, as the main area of the monumental complex. In it, due to the lack of luminosity, a series of vaults are placed that, thanks to some skylights, allow the illumination of the most outstanding sector of the place.
These vaults are formed by thick and large ribs leaving an open space between them. This constructive solution will later be widely used by Mudejar art, being called the caliphal rib vault. The maqsura is decorated with baseboards carved in marble decorated with motifs of Syrian origin and with mosaics of vitreous tesserae, giving this space a special colour similar to Byzantine constructions. The interior of the mihrab has an octagonal plan, closed by a majestic dome in the form of a venera.
Third Expansion (987)
The last great enlargement was carried out by the vizier Almanzor at the end of the 10th century. The imminent fall of the caliphate is glimpsed in the poverty of materials used in this area. In view of the impossibility of an increase towards the south, due to the nearby location of the Guadalquivir river, Almanzor opted to add eight more ships in an easterly direction.