Thursday, June 24, 2010


June 21 - Cordoba

Once outside of the city, it only took a little over an hour to drive to Cordoba often times passing huge fields of sun flowers. In Cordoba, we followed the same procedure that we had done in Seville - park the car at the first convenient parking lot and walk the rest of the way to the hotel. The narrow alleyways are simply to difficult to navigate.

We were staying at Hotel Lola, situated within the walled section of town. We first visited the main mosque -  the Mezquita. It was exquisite. One enters the mosque through a large gated doorway that leads into a spacious courtyard filled with orange trees. Once inside the mosque, one sees numerous arches in every direction as far as you can see. But when you look in the center, oddly enough, there is  a massive cathedral. On the periphery of the mosque there are rows of small and unique chapels.

There’s also a nook that’s acoustically designed where from the imam calls the prayer. It was explained to us that it was built not unlike a guitar, so as to amplify the imam’s voice to his followers, who would number in the thousands, just outside the nook in the main hall of the mosque. It must have been quite a sight. By the way, I use the word “nook” very loosely. In the Moslem world, there surely is a word for that very area.

Some of the pillars holding up the building were very interesting. On one side they consisted of the original rough rock. But as you looked around the pillar, it graduated to a worked stone to the point where on the other side it evolved into a smooth, marble-like pillar containing colorful, inlaid stones. And to think this was done over a thousand years ago.

Yet to us, the most intriguing aspect of the building remained as to how it was converted from what was a beautiful mosque to a cathedral within a mosque. To the untrained eye (us), it didn’t look totally perverted. But to Emperor Charles V, who had ordered the building of the cathedral, afterwards, he is said to have lamented “the destruction of something unique to build something commonplace”.

Later that night, we had dinner at El Cabajo Rojo restaurant. We had been told about a strange dish they may have to offer - jelly fish (Medusa in Spanish). But thank goodness, they didn‘t have it. I might have been tempted. Instead, I had a tasty rabbit stew.

Before leaving in the morning, we visited the Alcazar (a Moorish fort from the 12th century). The front quad, is composed of a peculiarly colored golden-yellow sand, with which the green trees offer a desert-like contrast. The color can also be seen in the composition of the brick and mortar in the buildings. 

The Alcazar was a bit stark, but the gardens and ponds on the inside were lush and beautiful. It was a perfect end to our visit to Cordoba.  

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