We took a train from Seville to Cordoba to visit the Candy cane double arches of Mesquita – also called the Grand Mosque or Cathedral of Cordoba. The Mesquita takes your breath away upon entry. It makes you feel as though you are in a hall of mirrors. Although originally built as a Mosque, the centre of this magnificent building was converted to a Cathedral after the Christians conquered Spain, the important parts of what was a Mosque are still in tact like the open courtyard once used for ablution rituals and the Kibla wall facing Mecca, there is a forest of pillars made from different colored granite, marble and alabaster supporting dozens of horse shoe arches, that looks like candy canes – then right in the centre is the spectacular alter, choir stalls and pipe organ which would grace any Christian place of worship. Traditionally, the mihrab of a mosque faces in the direction of Mecca; by facing the mihrab, worshipers pray towards Mecca. Mecca is east-southeast of the mosque, but the mihrab of this mosque unusually points south.
When it was lunch time we walked around the tiny streets around the Mesquita till we found a menu we liked. Lunch at the Las Piconeras was one of the best we had in Andalucía – we had the best Paella, fried eggplant with honey, olives and salmorejo – which is like gazpacho but richer and smoother. Even though it was hot we loved just walking around and enjoying the ambiance of Cordoba. We went to the Flower street, walked around the small alleyways and did some souvenir shopping.
The history buff in our family aka Miss Teen wanted to go see the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Spanish for “Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs”). She educated us that – Isabella and her husband Ferdinand used the Alcázar for one of the first permanent tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition and as a headquarters for their campaign against the Nasrid dynasty in Granada which was the last of the Moorish kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula. The monarchs are said to have met Christopher Columbus in the Alcázar as he prepared to take his first voyage to the Americas. The Alcázar also later served as a garrison for Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops in 1800.
We then walked on the Roman bridge built over the Guadalquivir river, this river runs through the entire length of Spain. There are plenty of other things to do in Cordoba. It took just 45 minutes to get from Seville to Cordoba on the high-speed AVE train line. We learnt quite a bit about the history of Cordoba on our little trip there!
The Bell tower, La Mezquita
The Gardens and Orange trees, La Mezquita
The interior halls and double arches columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite in La Mezquita
The richly gilded prayer niche or Mihrab, La Mezquita
The Chapel, La Mezquita
The flower street
Our fans from Sevilla came in handy as it was quite hot
Our lunch at Las Piconeras was one of the best we had in Andalucía – we had the best Paella, fried eggplant, olives and salmorejo.
The Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs, Cordoba
The Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir river
A little coffee stop before we take the train back to Seville