Yesterday, my program took a day trip to Córdoba, a smaller city about an hour and half bus ride from Sevilla. When I signed up for the trip I had no idea what was in Córdoba, I just knew I had a free ticket with my program.
The main attraction is the cathedral, which is actually a mosque that was partially turned into a cathedral, but is still sort of a mosque…
Yes, confusing. I know.
Regardless of it’s strange hybrid nature, the mosque/cathedral is absolutely beautiful and has a really interesting history. When Spain was under Arabic rule, there were amazing mosques constructed everywhere. But then the Christians conquered the land, and of course wanted to instill their religion into the people of Spain.
When people conquer an area, they have a nasty habit of destroying beautiful religious buildings that were already there. Luckily, whoever first found this mosque saw how cool it was and decided not to demolish it. Instead, they turned the building into a cathedral, keeping most of the old building and adding on a new section and redecorating with lots of crosses.
The most sacred part of the mosque was actually blocked off by a wall until recent years; kind of disrespectful if you ask me. Nobody knew that this section even existed until a brick fell out of the wall one day. Then they took down the wall and revealed the most stunning part of the mosque.
Well, arguable the most stunning. Unless you’re a big Christmas fan, like me. Then the best part is definitely the billions of candy cane arches.
Unfortunately, they aren’t actually made out of candy canes. They’re double arches designed to make the mosque seem infinite. If only there were actually an infinite number of candy canes, then it would be like real life candy land.
Onto the newer cathedral section. I must say, even though I should be biased towards the cathedral in Sevilla where I live, the one in Cordoba is my favorite so far. It’s so light and bright and makes me think of summertime and marshmallow fluff.
The cathedral section of the mosque/church isn’t actually all that large, but it’s stunning. All of the wooden panels were made by hand, each panel with a completely unique scene on it. How did they have the time or patience to make all of this? I guess hundreds of years ago there was no Netflix, so carving wood was a pretty good pass-time.
Before the Arabic empire, Spain was under Jewish rule. So we went even further back in time and visited the Jewish neighborhood and an old synagogue. This synagogue was teeny tiny, but it is apparently one of the only original ones left. Most were torn down during the Arabic rule to make way for mosques.
Skipping way forward in time, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos was built. This fortified palace was home to the royal family in Córdoba and was constructed by the Christians. The Alcázar in Sevilla is without a doubt better, but this one is still pretty awesome.
Inside the palace are some ancient roman community baths which I still don’t understand the concept of. It seems like public baths would be rather unsanitary…
At least the indoor baths were probably cleaner than the outdoor pools. Lots of fishies and water plants live in them, making for a very picturesque courtyard. In fact, and bride and groom were taking wedding pictures outside!
The tower overlooking all of Córdoba was an experience to say the least. The stairs to climb up to the top were essentially a winding death trap, but the view was worth it if you made it to the top alive.
The part that made Córdoba so cool was the prevalence of the three religions. In other cities, lots of original buildings pertaining to one or another religion have been destroyed, but here you can clearly see all of the influences on Spain all in one place. Three religions in one city, definitely got my money’s worth out of this free trip.