Week 29 – Cordoba – Islam and Christianity intertwined

  • Our last week in Spain, so with the weather starting to have a European winter feel to it, we headed out for our final road trip to Cordoba, an important Roman city and a major Islamic centre in the Middle Ages. The city now has a population of about 300,000 but at one stage was the biggest city, (almost a million), with the most important university, in the world. We were not disappointed and found some wonderful sights, but it is not quite as “alive” as Seville or Lisbon, (which could be a very good thing!!), and is probably a little down the tourist list after these cities and Granada.

    Cordoba streets are narrow as they are over a thousand years old
  • The highlight of Cordoba is without doubt the Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba. The first grand mosque was built in 784 AD and was steadily enlarged until the Christians resumed control in 1236 AD during the Reconquista, and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century. It is a fascinating and beautiful building and we took about 2 hours to explore it, but you cannot escape the fact that this is a total fusion of Islamic and Christian architecture and for us was almost confronting.
There are about 900 pillars and archways of Islamic origin
The pillars are almost endless in all directions – the footprint is huge
The guide to Mecca for prayers
But then, right in the middle, let’s insert a cathedral
With the most ornate and grand choir stalls
Throw in some Christian statues, having noted the lack of idolatry in the Islamic religion

And add over 50 saint’s chapels – all incredibly ornate – just infill some of the archways
And dig up the floor all over the place to entomb all these saints, martyrs and miscellaneous bishops and dignitaries
And with the obligatory, priceless “mummy, pappy, bling, bling” (you had to be there), you are in business!
  • So after about two hours of head-spinning beauty and incongruity we wandered outside into another beautiful Spanish square to view the undoubtedly Islamic walls and Christian bell tower. We have visited some amazing buildings both before the gap year and now during it, and the Mezquita is right up there in terms of must see.
Catholic bell tower through Muslim archway
  • Cordoba has many museums both large and small, and it was a small one that blew us away. The Galería de la inquisición is a museum dedicated to the torture inflicted in the name of the Inquisition, and the implements on display with graphic drawings as to their use, was both fascinating and the stuff of nightmares. The Spanish Inquisition started in 1478 and was not disbanded until 1834 – less than 200 years ago!!
  • The chair below has over 500 sharpened spikes and various ways of tightening the shackles to further impale the poor sod, (most often women!!). There were six rooms of “equipment” ranging from various models of the rack to simple things like thumb screws and rakes with sharpened spikes to rip the flesh off backs …..

Image result for gallery of the inquisition

  • We needed something a little less confronting so headed for Puente Romano, originally built in the first century BC, but the current bridge is rather more modern having been built by the Moors in the 8th century AD
Roman bridge with Torre de la Calahorra at the far end – built in the Middle Ages to guard the access to the bridge
Who doesn’t like a triumphal arch, (guards the other end of the Roman bridge)
  • Torre de la Calahorra was built by the Moors and has a museum dedicated to the science, medicine and philosophy of the Islamic scholars. These folk were about 800 years ahead of the then barbaric Christians, (and probably are still ahead of some of today’s Pentecostal nut jobs in terms of their thinking on social justice), and the displays are a testament to their advanced thinking and education
    Surgical tools over 1000 years old

    Cordoba from the Tower. The skyline is dominated by the Mezquita
  • We had a lovely apartment. Cordoba is very “Middle Eastern” in that the streetscape is rather bland but when we could see inside the doors there were beautiful courtyards
Our courtyard
And next door
Especially for our “Camino de Santiago” friends Richard and Carolyn – one of the paths passes here – anyone for 2021??
  • Right next to the Mezquita is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, (Spanish for “Castle of the Christian Monarchs”), also known as the Alcázar of Córdoba, is a medieval alcázar located in the historic centre of Córdoba. The fortress served as one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. The gardens are quite beautiful, and in the tower there are a number of large third century Roman mosaics found during renovations nearby in the Plaza de la Corredera.
Yes, another bloody castle!!
The alcazar from the gardens
The gardens from the tower
Adrienne’s check pants bum with one mosaic
The portico in the tower was built around the original Roman city walls – the doorway on the left cracked me up – why???
I can’t take her anywhere – is there any fruit safe from Adrienne’s foraging?
  • Cordoba has taken great pains to build anything new sympathetically with their history. Cordoba is a city drenched in history and like many others our advice is to see it and appreciate it as we did.
A Roman temple integrated with the city administrative centre
  • We headed back to Benehavis for the last few days of our stay in Spain. We have done some more long walks along the beach in Marbella and where are the tourists!!! It seems that last Saturday was the last day of the tourist season. The beach was empty, many of the pop-up restaurants have been dismantled and the beach chairs and umbrellas are gone. Time for us to head home we think ….

    The world’s loneliest life guard


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