This was permitted under the 1988 mortgage act, which permitted the long term users of properties to claim the ownership of the building.
Under the law, if “interested parties” – the National Government – does not contest the registration within 10 years, the ownership is transferred.
What this means, is that if Madrid doesn’t make a counterclaim, the Catholic Church will end up owning one of the world’s most singular and precious buildings, for just €30.
Apart from anything else, the Catholic Church keeps 100% of the 8€ entrance fee it charges tourists, and rakes in millions from the building. It has attempted many times to remove all reference to Islam from the building, and indeed was only prevented by the launching of legal action from changing the name of the building from mezquita to catedral.
Professor of Law at Cordoba University Antonio Manuel Rodríguez thinks this is public theft, and has launched a campaign which in its first few weeks has attracted over 65,000 signatures on change.org, and cofounded the Plataforma Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba which is asking UNESCO to step in and help protect this listed building.
Professor Rodriguez warns that it’s not an easy task to stop this “theft” and says that a modification of the 1947 Mortgage Law could be needed, as otherwise a lengthy and protracted legal battle could ensue.
The alternative is that this ancient building, one of the most famous in the world, will fall into the hands of the Catholic Church, which will use it solely as a source of revenue, with no State control.
You can help sign the petition here.