Google Maps puts “Mosque” back into Córdoba monument’s name

Word Heritage Site was simply listed as “Cathedral,” sparking a row and an online campaign

Visitors to the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
Visitors to the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.GARCÍA CORDERO

For a while, the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba) disappeared from Google Maps. The famous monument was being described simply as Catedral de Córdoba, even on the dot that signals its location on the map.

But an activist group called Plataforma Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba. Patrimonio de tod@s – roughly translated as “Platform for the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. Heritage of everyone” – drew attention to the oversight, prompting the search engine to revert to the building’s original name just two days later.

A group of citizens is demanding that ownership of the monument be passed into public hands to stop the bishops’ attempts to wipe out traces of its Islamic past

Córdoba Mayor José Antonio Nieto on Wednesday thanked Google for the name change for the monument, which was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site precisely because of its status as a former mosque.

The building in question is one of the world’s most stunning examples of Moorish architecture. It was built as a mosque in 987, then converted into a Catholic cathedral in 1236. With its mixture of columns, arches and chapels, it remains one of the Andalusian city’s biggest tourist attractions, and reflects Spain’s Christian and Islamic past.

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But a series of laws passed by Franco and later the conservative government of José María Aznar allowed the Catholic Church to register the religious site to its name in 2006 for just €30. In late 2013 a group of citizens got together to demand that ownership and management of the monument be passed into public hands to stop the Córdoba bishops’ attempts to wipe out the traces of its Islamic past.

On Monday, this group started a petition on Change.org asking Google not to be “an accomplice to this strategy of appropriation by the Córdoba diocese.”

Google is investigating why the original name was changed in the first place.

Google is investigating why the original name was changed in the first place

The Andalusian chief of tourism and trade, Rafael Rodríguez, expressed concern over the deletion of the word “Mezquita” and said that he would ask Google for explanations.

The mayor of Córdoba said that he has spoken with the director general of Google Spain, who “has always been ready to help and has executed solutions immediately.”

Nieto confirmed that Google wants to use the monument’s official name, as approved by the city council, which is Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba.

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