Cordoba, Spain

Today we had a free day that we could either spend in Seville or take a walking tour of the Moorish city of Cordoba, which I did. The highlight of Cordoba is the magnificent Mezquita, an 8th century mosque with a Christian church built inside it.  The location was originally the site of an ancient Visigoth Christian temple which was destroyed to build the mosque which was commenced in 785.  It was expanded  three times and was considered to be at that time, the most important sanctuary of western Islam. King Ferdinand III reconquered Cordoba in 1236  and the dedication of the Cathedral took place in that year. The baroque main Chapel, Transept and Choir were installed in 1523 and were somewhat controversial at that time.  There are many chapels in the cathedral containing the remains of Spanish royalty and other aristocratic persons.  The richly ornamented Mihrab prayer niche of the mosque remains. As you walk into the building from the original entrance to the mosque, you see only the red and white painted arches of the original mosque and you cannot see the main altar. While you are in the part of the building containing the altar and choir, you cannot see the arches.  It is a massive building and it is possible only to get an impression of the parts but not of the whole. Outside, the palm trees in the courtyard of the mosque have been replaced by orange trees.  Our guide told us that it was only through tourism that the upkeep of the cathedral was assured and in fact, without tourism the local economy would be in much worse shape than it is. We ended our walking tour with a stroll through the old Jewish quarter and a visit to the synagogue. The pictures are of a reconstructed Roman bridge which until the 1950’s was the only bridge in Cordoba, the orange tree courtyard, the bell tower, a part of the original Muslim prayer hall, the statue of the Virgin seen from the entrance to the Cathedral, the High Altar, the choir, and the Mihrab prayer niche of the mosque. We are now off to Lisbon.

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