Friday, October 2, 2015

A day in Cordoba

By fast speed train (250klm average speed) Cordoba is only 35 minutes from Sevilla, making it an easy day trip for us. Our Pelayo Terrace apartment is in an ideal location - only a 15 minute walk to the Sevilla Cathedral in one direction and a 10-15 minute walk to the opulent Santa Justa railway station in the other. We had no trouble at all catching the 8.50am AVE train to Cordoba yesterday morning.

We were all keen to see Cordoba's Mezquita Cathedral (the Mosque-Cathedral), which in its day was the most important mosque in the Western Islamic world. Building started in 785AD when Cordoba was starting to emerge as the most important and sophisticated city in Europe. By 1000AD Cordoba had a population of up to a million people.

Nowadays it is about the same size as Canberra. Our walk from the train station to the Cathedral in the old town took us through some very well cared for parts of the city.......(I love what the locals do with their ubiquitous orange trees)

The Mezquita is huge...taking around 200 years to complete in its original form....It really dominates the closely packed old town of Cordoba now.

The entry courtyard which is also very large contains dozens of orange trees (of course).
But inside, the Mezquita is quite breathtaking in its impact..with its stunning, double semi circular arches and rows of marble columns. We can't forget it was built by the Moors (from Morocco). So much makes more sense to us now having experienced the perfection of Moorish culture on our Morocco adventure.

When the Spanish reconquered Cordoba in 1236 the mosque was "converted" to a cathedral, with all sorts of Gothic, Renaissance and Spanish Baroque elements added over time.  The contrast between the calm, precise beauty of the Muslim outer section and the overwrought, overly ornamented Catholic inner section of the cathedral looks quite bizarre to us today.

We wandered around the pretty, narrow streets of Cordoba old town for a while although fighting for space among the packs of day trippers in organised tour groups became very grating after a while. It really gave you the feeling that this charming area has become, in effect, a tourist package rather than an area where real people live!
At one time Cordoba had a large Jewish community (the largest in Europe in 70AD).We did come across the only conserved synagogue in Andalusia on Calle Judios in the old town.  A great deal of work has been done in the last few decades on the conservation of this small but special building.

The day was becoming quite warm by the time we crossed the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), now a pedestrian only bridge, built by the Romans during the reign of Augustus.  The bridge crosses over the Guadalquiver River, which looked quite slow moving today.
On the far side of the bridge we admired the Torre de la Calahorra although we could not believe this was built at the same time as the bridge - it looked to be in too great condition.
Knowing it was getting near lunchtime we set out to find a tourist free, centro kind of area to relax for a while.....which involved more walking and sightseeing ........
In this very respectable town I was intrigued to see this (rare) graffiti which I later found out translates as The Great Dictator which may be a reference to the 1940 Charlie Chaplin film in which he makes his famous speech, defending humanity and freedom?

Eventually we came to this massive square...the Plaza de la Corredera..which looked interesting, we thought.  We made our choice of eating place and ordered beers all round and then what sounded like some interesting tasting plates. Unfortunately our choices didn't live up to expectations as what sounded so good on the Spanish menu ended up being (in my case) a bowl of chips, topped by a fried egg (overcooked), topped by well fried Jamon (ham).  All ham here in Spain tastes good but the combination of fried stuff with it didn't sit too well for me for the rest of the day unfortunately!  Ah the risks of travel..especially when none of us has any Spanish language skills.
We then did some more street strolling around the very quiet afternoon streets of Cordoba Centro
..........finishing off the day with some iced tea and great people watching in this lovely square right near the Cordoba School of Applied Arts. Although we were driven away from here eventually by the haze of cigarette smoke emitted by all the art students when they joined us at the cafe for an afternoon beer (and smoke) at the end of their "work" day.

We caught the 7.30pm high speed train back to Sevilla and ended off the day once more among the foliage of the plane trees overlooked by our lovely outdoor terrace - with a plate of cheese, local grapes and jamon to make up for the oil attack over lunch. 


davey said...

Happy birthday Judy! Hope you had a lovely day. See you in a week! X

davey said...

Happy birthday Judy! Hope you had a lovely day. See you in a week! X

Jane Le dieu said...

Love these shots of Córdoba