Southern Spain: Cordoba

We arrived in Cordoba in time to grab a quick lunch before heading out to see the important sights of the city. We only had  one night in Cordoba so we only had time to see the big things. After passing by a few Roman ruins in the middle of the city, we ended up at La Mezquita, the huge mosque/church that is the main attraction of Cordoba. Construction started in the middle of the 7th century, under the Visigoth rule, but shortly after, the city was taken over by the Moors. This started the struggle for the building’s true identity. Subsequent Moorish rulers kept adding onto the mosque, growing it to more than double its original size. The traditional minaret and orange grove were added during this time as well.

After the Christians reconquered Cordoba in the 13th century, efforts started to convert the giant mosque back into a Christian church as the Visigoths had originally planned. So under the supervision of some of Europe’s most powerful monarchs (ie. Carlos Quinto), a church was plopped down right in the middle of the mosque, fitting into the existing geometry and protruding through the roof of the original building.

We studied this building in our architectural history classes, but nothing can prepare you for your first hand visit. It is so enormous and elaborately detailed – it blew me away. Outside of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, this was my favorite place that we visited.

Here are some pictures of the inside:

It was very hard to draw…:

The grid of columns seems to go on forever, only to be interrupted by the church that sits right in the middle:

Because it’s most recent function has been as a church, La Mezquita is actually referred to as a cathedral and not a mosque. However there has been a huge debate over how it should properly be named because of the significance both culturally and physically of it as a mosque.

After spending several hours at La Mezquita, we went do the street to the Alcazar of Cordoba. It’s the old Christian fortress that houses some amazing gardens:

The next morning we stopped by the old Roman bridge (1st century B.C.) before heading to the Azahara Medina Museum. We didn’t have enough time to make it up to the medina, but the museum was very new and informative so we enjoyed that instead:

After our brief visit here, we got back on the bus and set out for Merida.

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