Córdoba

Trip Start Sep 28, 2010
1
53
58
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We arrived in Córdoba in the early afternoon and walked into the downtown from the bus station. It was a little tricky finding our hostel given that the roads were narrow, windy and not very well marked but we managed in the end. It was a rainy afternoon so after dropping off our bags, we headed out hopping from awning to awning. Our plan was to go to the Mezquita today but it was closed due to the processions. Plan B included wandering freely through the city, eating a slice of the tallest Tortilla Española I have ever seen, trying Andalucia's famous Salmoreja soup (a creamy gaspacho with crumbled bacon and hardboiled egg on top) and some of the best croquetas I have even had.

Córdoba is a really beautiful town. I think I prefer it to Granada. Many of the houses in the old section of town had whitewashed walls and wonderful flower pots adorning the windows and gates. Córdoba is famous for its patios and entrances.

There is a lot of old jewish history in Córdoba so we visited an ancient sinagogue. It was built in 1315 and after the Jewish people were expulsed from Spain in 1492, it was used as a hydropobic hospital, a chapel for shoemakers and a nursery school (but not all at the same time). 

It is said that during the 10th and the beginning of the 11th centuries, Córdoba was the most populous city in the world and the intellectual center of Europe. Today it has a population of around 340,000. 

That evening we decided to watch processions. We found a decent spot to wiggle in between the crowds and stood there for close to 2 hours. All the processions have the same basic elements. They start with nazareños (with the pointed hoods and long robes) who are holding long thick candles. They are mixed with women dresses in all black with an elaborate hair comb that holds a long place of black lace that trailed down their backs. These women are dressed to show their mourning for the death of Jesus. There are also children that walk in these processions. Many of them are in robes (without hoods) and they carry little baskets with water bottles, lighters for the candles and other supplies. Every so often someone in the procession has a vessel holding incense that they wave back and forth spreading the smoke. Then there are bands that play lively music. When you hear the drums and the flutes and the trumpets its a good sign because the bands always precede the floats. The first float is always Jesus in some scene from the story of his life. Then pass hundreds of more nazareños, etc and then another band and then the Virgen Mary on her float.

Thursday morning we got up "early" to visit the Mezquita before getting our bus to Sevilla. They hold mass in the building every morning so it is free to enter between 8:30 and 10. Score-bonus!!!  WHAT AN INCREDIBLE BUILDING!!!! And what an incredible history... the site was originally a pagan temple then a Visigothic Cristian church then a mosque. The construction of the mosque began around 600 A.D. and was completed to its current dimesions in 987. Then in 1236 when Córdoba was taken from the moors by the Catholic Kings, they converted it into a Catholic Church.  The minaret was turned into a bell tower and a huge Renissance style cathedral nave was constructed right in the middle of the mosque.

Well... Let me just say that it was fascinating. I love the Islamic architecture style and the intricacy of their art and the mosque didn't let me down. The mosque's red and white arches and hundreds of pillars juxtaposed with the white and gold Renaissance art of the cathedral was Sensational!! (I'm trying to expand my vocab... I use incredible and awesome too much). That is transculturation at its finest. I liked it better than the Alhambra in Granada. And this one was free!

After leaving the Mezquita we walked around a little, picked up our bags and marched off to the bus station... Here we come Sevilla!
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