Friday, April 8, 2016

Córdoba's magnificent Mezquita-Catedral

Córdoba's grand Mezquita-Catedral as seen from Puenta Romano

I have visited hundreds of churches since I've been living in this part of the world. Despite my philosophical ambivalence, when I see an open church door, I must take a look inside. I've only paid admission on rare occasions, and then only reluctantly. But on our third day in Sevilla, I suggest taking the 45-minute train ride to Córdoba with its famous Mezquita-Catedral as our primary destination. And, (holy cow!) I'm glad we did.

Interior of the Mezquita-Catedral in Córdoba

Since 1236, Cathedral Córdoba has been the main place of worship — every day — for Catholics in this beautiful city in the Andalucia region of Spain. Archaeological excavations reveal that the cathedral was built on the site of an ancient Visigoth basilica. This was Córdoba's main church from Roman times until the Islamic conquest in 711. For a time, Muslims and Catholics shared the church, but eventually this awkward arrangement ended when the church was purchased and destroyed. In its place (and utilizing some of the materials of the former basilica) construction began on a mosque that would become, over the next three centuries, the most important sanctuary of Western Islam and one of the most impressive examples of Moorish architecture.

The mihrab inside the Mezquita-Catedral in Córdoba indicates
the direction of Mecca.

Columns of marble, jasper, onyx and granite, red-and-white double arches, colorful mosaics and a hall floor made with prayer-mat-sized stones, the massive mosque could accommodate 20,000 worshipers. 

Interior of the Mezquita-Catedral in Córdoba

King Ferdinand II reconquered Córdoba in 1236, and eventually the new cathedral was built within the mosque's walls. Today, Spanish Muslims have asked permission to pray inside the Mezquita-Catedral, but thus far have been banned from doing so.

Detail of the main chapel in Córdoba's cathedral

After our visit to Mezquita-Catedral, we are happy to reemerge to the sunshine and explore the city. We check out Córdoba's old Jewish Quarter then head to the Guadalquivir river where we pass through one of the city's ancient gates and cross over Puenta Romano. 

Street scene in Córdoba
Puerta del Puenta in in Córdoba

After a delicious lunch where I indulge my new craving for salmorejo (cold tomato soup that originated in Córdoba), we walk through the bustling shopping area of Plaza Tenillas. We have some extra time before our return to Sevilla, so we detour through some of the city's pretty gardens on our way to the train station.

Salmorejo ... yum!

La música callejera (busking) in Córdoba

Un muchacho joven relaxes on a Córdoba memorial.

Water feature in a Córdoba garden

A train in Córdoba, but not the one we rode from and to Sevilla

No comments:

Post a Comment