“A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out nor ends when we have reached our doorstep once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.”
Between 987 and 1236, the Mezquita in Cordoba was considered the grandest and most important mosque in the Islamic Kingdom. When the Christians reclaimed Cordoba they converted the mosque into a church. Essentially the site is a mosque with a cathedral in the middle of it and the best place to see this is from the Roman Bridge where you can clearly see the church surrounded by rectangular shaped buildings.
Abd ar-Rahman I purchased part of a Visgothic church and construction of the mosque began and was used for Friday prayers by the muslim community, later purchasing the rest of the church to complete the mosque. The mosque is actually huge and the initial prayer hall was expanded on a further 3 times from its initial construction. The red and white geometric shaped arches are beautiful and they vary in shape, height and width.
The most exquisite and intricately decorated area in the mosque is the mirah and maksura, part of the extention carried out by Al-Hakim II. Al-Hakim wanted a mosaic as splendid as that in the Damascus mosque and asked the Byzantium emperor for a mosaicist to do the work. The emperor not only sent a mosaicist but also 1600 kg of gold mosaic cubes, which gives the mibrab its glittering appearance.
The mihrab was created into a scallop shell, a symbol of the Qurun, from a single block of marble. The marble was then covered with geometrical patterns, gold cubes and inscriptions from the Quran.
It is quite weird to be wandering around the arches in the mosque and find yourself stumbling into arranged pews that form the cathedral. The cathedral like most in Spain is both ornately and lavishly decorated quite the opposite to the simple style of the mosque.
Both the entrance and exit to the Mosque is through the Patio de los Naranjos, which as you can imagine is filled with orange trees. Also in the corner of the patio is the Bell Tower .(Torre Campanario) The Bell tower stands at 54 meters high and apparently offers panoramic views over the Mezquita buildings. Entrance to the bell tower is restricted to only 20 people every 30 minutes. The bell tower was originally a minaret that was constructed between 951 – 952 when the mosque was being expanded. The tower was added in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Christians.
When you exit the Mezquite buildings back on to the street you can see the exterior has a series of doors, made of some type of metal and are ornately decorated. It appears that they are from different time periods as some of the doors are more detailed than others. Very interesting to look at.
The Roman Bridge or Puente Romano was built Pompey the Great during the 1st century BC, however it received extensive renovations by the Moors during their occupation of the city during the 10th century. The bridge is supported by 16 arches and spans the width of the Rio Guadalquivir. Half way along the bridge is a statue of San Rafael.
From one end of the bridge you have a view of the Torre de Calahorra, which dates from the 11th century and from the other end of the bridge you have spectacular views over the Mosque-Cathedral, the river, the Gate of the Bridge and the Roman Bridge of Cordoba. It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed walking along the bridge and around Cordoba.
Alcazar da los Reyes Cristianos
The Alcazar was constructed on the remains of an existing Moorish fort, under orders of King Alfonso XI, in 1328. The castle was built in Mudejar style and so has retained a Moorish feel. While some of the defensive walls and towers are from the Moorish era, the tower was built by the Christian monarchs. The Alcazar’s structure with halls and courtyards filled with plants is very Andalusian style.
The highlight of the interior of the castle is definitely the mosaics hall which contains Roman mosaics dating from the 2nd and 3rd century and are really amazing. The mosaics were discovered in 1959 below Corredera Square.
We have only been in Andalusia for two days, but we are amazed at the number of orange trees that are growing everywhere; in the streets, plazas, gardens, on the islands between traffic and a huge number in the Alcazar.
The gardens throughout the alcazar are beautiful, the fountains were running, the trees were overflowing with oranges, mandarins and lemons and there were even some roses still in bloom. Of course there are also statues decorating the gardens, including one of Isabel and Ferdinand with Christopher Columbus.
The alcazar had far fewer tourists visiting than at the Mezquita-Cathedral and is a pleasant way to fill a couple of hours on a nice sunny day.
- November – February │ Monday to Saturday │ 8.30 am -6 pm
- November – February │ Sundays and religious feasts │ 8.30 am -11.30 am/ 3 pm – 6 pm
- March – October │ Monday to Saturday │ 10 am -19.00 *
- March – October │ Sundays and religious feasts │ 8.30 am -11.30 am/ 3 pm – 7 pm
- Adult: €10 │ Children aged 10 – 14 years, disabled: €5 │ Children under 10, Cordoba residents, Andalusian people over 65: free
- Audio guide: €4
- Free explanatory map and leaflet.
Alcazar da los Reyes Cristianos
- Winter: 16th September to 15th June │ Tuesday – Friday: 8.30 am – 8.45 pm │ Saturday: 8.30 am – 4.30 pm │ Sunday: 8.30 am – 2.30 pm
- Summer: 16th June to 15th September │ Tuesday – Saturday: 8.30 am – 3 pm │ Sunday: 8.30 am – 2.30 pm
- Closed on Monday
- Adult: €5 │ Children and Under 14s: Free