Sunday, 3 January 2010
Yesterday we made our way east into the heart of Andulusia to visit the once great city of Cordoba. Originally founded as a Roman city in 152 BC the Moors established it as the centre of Moorish Spain in 756 and it became the centre of the western Islamic Empire rivaling Cairo and Baghdad. The primary attraction of the city is the Mezquita which is considered by most to be the grandest and most beautiful mosque ever constructed by the Moors.
The drive from Huelva (near us) to Seville was a long slog through featureless landscape scarred with tasteless urban development and despite only being 90 kilometres it seemed to take forever. Once beyond Seville though the next 130 kilometers opened up to reveal beautiful undulating green hills dotted with olive and orange groves. We didn't even notice the length of this leg of the journey.
As you come down the hills and around the last bend Cordoba reveals itself and as a tourist it is quite obvious where to head. We took quite a bit of time trying to figure out what the various parking restrictions were in place but finally just took a chance and left the car where we had initially pull in and given it was still there when we returned and we didn't have to pay a penny I would say parking was easy peasy.
Given all the rain we have had recently it was no surprise that the river was high and in fact one side had flooded the bottom floors of the gatehouse. The locals seemed in awe as they photographed the rushing river below us.
After passing a series of elaborate archways, we entered the orange tree filled courtyard of the Mezquita. This was the ablution garden complete with numerous fountains, a peaceful oasis despite the sightseers. The Mezquita was originally a basilica and there is now a Catholic church built on/in the mosque but the numerous columns, arches and open spaces are unquestionably that of a mosque.
After the Mezquita we toured the narrow alleys of the Juderia, the Jewish quarter and fell into our seats in a crowded tapas bar to enjoy the various gastronomic tidbits, my favourite being the deep fried aubergine (eggplant) slices. The children loved the local speciality of Iberica pork loin. Marc just loved his cerveza.
It was a chilly day (only 12 C - 50 F) but the sun was shining and I got a bit of pink on my face as evidence of a great day out!