Sevilla Act III: Córdoba and Finale

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End May 23, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Monday, May 7, 2012

Blue skies again! Perfect for an excursion to Córdoba, site of the Mezquita Cathedral - yet another World Heritage-listed site in Spain.

A 50 minute high-speed train then local bus delivers us to our destination, stunning initially in the mass of its outer wall. Admission to the orange grove inside is free but then we join the queues to buy tickets for inside the mosque. Hoards of tour groups have become evident in the last couple of days...

Construction of the Mezquita began in 785AD in the Islamic period and continued with expansions over the reign of four Muslim leaders. This lead to ever increasing numbers of marble columns and arches being added.

In 1236, King Ferdinand III conquered Córdoba and the first Christian ceremony was conducted within the mosque.

In 1523, the Spanish Inquisition saw the construction of a full-blown Catholic Cathedral and chapels within the confines of the mosque, just as in Sevilla. This has produced the most bizarre arrangement of endless rows of Moorish arches and Arabic script then KAPOW!... as frilly a Baroque/Gothic cathedral as you can imagine pops up smack bang in the middle!

I first saw this building on the ABC show "Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour Series 1" with Kevin McCloud of "Grand Designs" fame and knew it was vast but nothing compares to the real thing!

My photos only go half the way... (And I have no photo editing on the iPad, so forgive the crookedness of some.)

We also walk across a nearby bridge to get views of the full structure. Apparently, the bridge has Roman foundations and 17th century repairs to the pillars and arches. Sadly it also has the tackiest 20th century top, complete with ceramic tiling...

We eat lunch at a cafe with a view over the river to a fort and with date palms and white-washed buildings imagine we are in Northern Africa or maybe the Middle East.

After lunch, we dodge various tour and school groups to walk around the narrow streets, many of which are decorated with geranium planters. There are remains of an old city wall that slices through the old town and the imposing walls of a couple of palacios.

Returning to the station, we find the next train back to Sevilla is a local train stopping at most stations. Taking over twice as long as an AVE or AVANT express (but costing about one third the price) it is a pleasant alternative on a different route. The TV screens in each carriage show that we top 160km/hour... Not bad for the slow route!

Dinner tonight is another local cafe and this time we strike gold. No tourists, staff unable to speak English and delicious food... Chickpeas and spinach, tender curried chicken, gazapacho and roasted green peppers. With an almond tart to share plus coffees, we eat for €25 total!

And so to bed, for tomorrow is the next leg to Granada. With the window open and Pachabel and Handel wafting down from the roof deck, it is a pleasant end to a top day!
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