– Stanley Lane-Poole
Córdoba is like a compact country. It’s small yet has all the sights and glorious treasures one would hope to find. After an 8:15 breakfast, we left our hotel and walked to our last stop on our trip, La Catedral de Córdoba.
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita, whose ecclesiastical name is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, is the Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The structure is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is the most important monument of all the Western Islamic world, and one of the most amazing in the world. The evolution of the “Omeya” style in Spain is resumed in the history of the Mosque of Cordoba.
The Great Mosque has two different areas: the courtyard or “arcade sahn”, where the “alminar” (minaret) is constructed (beneath the Renaissance tower) by Abd al-Rahman III, and the “haram” or praying hall. The interior space consists of a forest of columns and red and white arches giving a strong chromatic effect. The site is divided into 5 different areas, corresponding each one of them to the different expansions that have occurred on it.
Since the early 2000s, Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to allow them to pray in the cathedral. This Muslim campaign has been rejected on multiple occasions, both by the church authorities in Spain and by the Vatican.
I took a few minutes to reverently sit in Capilla Sagrario, one of the many chapels, and soak in the history as well as have a quiet religious moment of my own. If it was one thing I intended to do, was use my religious privilege to all its advantage, especially when there were those who couldn’t even come to the mosque and offer up their prayers. I vowed not to take any religious edifice for granted, no matter how many we visited.
With our free time, we chose to explore what crevices we hadn’t seen the night before and acquire our last remnants of Andalucian helado and food. It was only a matter of time before we would be heading back to campus, and as much as people had worn on my LAST NERVES, I was somewhat sad to have to leave Andalucia behind.
Not an experience I would soon forget.
We arrived in Cordoba the night of the 20th, with enough time to go exploring. Our hotel was located on the other side of the river, which gave us a killer view of the city!
Córdoba, also called Cordova, is the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was conquered by invading Muslim armies in the eighth century, and then became the capital of the Islamic Emirate and then Caliphate of Córdoba, including most of the Iberian Peninsula. The new Moorish commanders established themselves within the city and in 716 it became a provincial capital, subordinate to the Caliphate of Damascus; in Arabic it was known as قرطبة (Qurṭubah). It has been estimated that in the 10th century Córdoba was the most populous city in the world, and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakam II it had also become a centre for education under its Islamic rulers.
Reinhardt Dozy wrote:
The fame of Córdoba penetrated even distant Germany: the Saxon nun Hroswitha, famous in the last half of the 10th century for her Latin poems and dramas, called it the Ornament of the World.— Reinhardt Dozy
The city is on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, and its easy access to the mining resources of the Sierra Morena (coal, lead, zinc) satisfies the population’s needs. Córdoba has the warmest summer high temperatures in Spain and Europe with average high temperatures around 37 °C (99 °F) in July and similar heat in August. Córdoba is one of the few cities in the world that has a near-exact antipodal city – Hamilton, New Zealand.
And with our free time we speedly went towards our favourite past time: helado! We could never eat enough helado. There was never enough time to eat helado. Hunger in hand, we went to La Plaza de las Tendillas to acquire our ice cream and socialize with a few of the locals. It was our first time actually speaking Spanish with the natives and boy were we behind. Not because of the speed alone, but also because of the way they talked. We were accustomed to our teachers pronouncing every syllable for us, but in reality most Spaniards cut down their words. It was an interesting -learning on the spot- experience, to say the least.
The “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. The tanks are named after María de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel, or King Peter of Castile. Her remains were taken, following the orders of King Peter, to the Cathedral of Seville where she received burial in the Royal Chapel with other members of the royal house.
Well, it’s not raining but you know where I’m going with this. Bright and early SUNDAY MORNING and I knew it was going to be a lonnnnnnng day. Our first stop was at the Real Alcázar de Sevilla.
Real Alcázar de Sevilla (Royal Alcázar of Seville) or The Silken Palace, is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula.
The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
Most recently, The Alcázar was used in the filming of Game of Thrones as The Water Gardens and Sunspear, seat of House Martell in Dorne.
The palace is filled with ceramic walls, intricate roofs, numerous fountains, beautiful gardens that house a few exotic animals, underwater baths and much more. From the doors to the grounds itself is steeped in history and has its own specific story that just made the journey through the palace that much more exciting.
You’d think after exploring a castle of this magnitude the day would be done.
Next on the list was La Catedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the WORLD. It is also the largest cathedral in the world, as the two larger churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter’s Basilica, are not the seats of bishops.
Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See) is a Roman Catholic cathedral that was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Seville Cathedral was built to demonstrate the city’s wealth, as it had become a major trading center in the years after the Reconquista in 1248. The cathedral’s construction lasted over a century, from 1401 to 1506. It is said that when the plans were drawn up, church elders stated, “Hagamos una iglesia tan hermosa y tan grandiosa que los que la vieren labrada nos tengan por locos.” (Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad).
Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the dome collapsed and work on the cathedral recommenced. The dome again collapsed in 1888, and work was still being performed on the dome until at least 1903. The 1888 collapse occurred due to an earthquake and resulted in the destruction of “every precious object below” the dome at that time.
After its completion in the early 16th century, the Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years. The cathedral is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus. The Archbishop’s Palace is located on the northeastern side of the cathedral.
Our tour through Seville came to an end with a carriage ride through the town! And YES, it was as fun as you think! It gave us the opportunity to take more pictures without the hassle of walking from monument to monument. It was a welcomed rest, especially since once it was finished we had limited time to locate nourishment and get back to the hotel.
WHAT WAS THE RUSH?!
Well! We were a bit behind schedule because of the carriage ride so we had to make haste to our next location that evening.