The Frying Pan of Spain
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
83Trip End Sep 16, 2011
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Like the other cities in the region, Cordoba rests on a long Moorish history. But her Moorish rulers got a foothold a bit later than neighbouring Granada… the Romans were here first and they left some pretty impressive ruins. Along with a city layout and plumbing, they also left a huge stone bridge that connects the sides of the old city. Evening promenading along the bridge is the thing to here and Jim and I see no reason not to join in.
The Moorish rule here was one of the shortest – only about 400 years, before being ousted by the Spanish. However it was a packed 400 years as Cordoba became a major Moorish powerhouse and a huge Muslim city. To accommodate all the Muslims the Sultan, Abd ar-Rahman I, built a mosque. Enlarged by subsequent rulers the mosque was at one time the largest in the Western world and held over 11,000 worshipers. It’s the Mosquita that has drawn us to Cordoba and after the splendours of the Alcazar and the Alhambra we are not sure what to expect.
The old original part of the Mosquita is moving. A simple beautiful arch design that continues throughout till the mihrab, here a lush rich mosaic designates the most holy part of the mosque. There is a reverence about the mosque and its age and beauty are inspiring. One of our favourite parts was that in the last extension the ruler Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir who allowed the stone masons to sign their names on the columns and they are still there today even after 800 years – cool.
The Mosquita is now a catholic church, having been re-consecrated in the 16th century, so surrounding the interior of the mosque, lining the walls, are now catholic vaults and chapels. The effect is slightly strange to see the mix of religions, but the gothic period and the Arabic do seem to blend. What is perhaps the most jarring effect is that during the 18th century in order to stamp Rome’s domination over the church a huge cathedral was built in the centre of the Mosquita. The only word for this is desecration. While the baroque church is stunning in its own right and separated from the original building would have been lovely. To put this over-ornate explosion in the middle of a peaceful simple structure has affected both. Don’t get me wrong the Mosquita is well worth the visit and it is an amazing and magical place, the new part of the church is walled in, but to see what has been done for the ego of religion does break the heart slightly.
To move on to a cheerier note it was my turn to surprise Jim. Summer is the time for having various festivals in royal gardens and I have got tickets for Jim and I to see a light and water show in the gardens of the Cordoba Alcazar. We arrive at the fashionable hour of 11pm (nothing is early in Spain…no wonder they have siesta) The modern gardens date from the 16th century with long ponds and fountains. For summer they have added coloured lights to the fountains and they perform set to music. We wander through the gardens for a couple of hours enjoying the music and lights… a lovely end to our little side