Friday, November 9, 2012

Spain Part IV: Cordoba & Seville

After our time in Grenada we drove two hours to Cordoba. The main attraction here is the Mezquita, which is an enormous former mosque founded in 785. In 1236 the mosque was turned into a Catholic church after Cordoba was captured by King Ferdinand III. It is one of the only places in the world where one can worship Mass in a mosque. This is the centerpiece of Cordoba and no trip here is complete without visiting it.

A massive structure!
The Cathedral part of the Mosque

The architecture of the building is stunning. Columns are made from onyx, jasper, marble, and granite. They used double arches, which allowed for higher ceilings, and alternated between the colors red and white. We stood in awe as we gazed at the beautiful building... it was unlike anything we had seen before.

Outside the wall to the old city
After our time in the Mezquita we went through a web of winding streets, including the Jewish quarter and 14th century synagogue. Jews were among the most prominent citizens during the time of Islamic Cordoba and they left their mark on this city. Today the Jewish quarter is a series of whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful flower boxes, with Hebrew inscriptions written into the streets.

Inside the old synagogue

Statue of Maimonides: Rub the gold foot for good luck!

We found a fantastic restaurant for dinner and had some time to get a few drinks beforehand at a fun rooftop bar. The food in Cordoba, like the rest of the cities that we went to in Spain, was delicious.

A very skillfully made gin and tonic.
Drinks before dinner.
Nice view!

Getting our car out of Cordoba proved to be a difficult experience with some of the streets being a little too narrow for our van. After a stressful getaway we continued the drive to Seville. Seville seems to incorporate everything that one might be looking for in a Spanish city: history, culture, romance, and beauty. It has many monuments, a grand Gothic cathedral, art, and a ton of festivals catering to all interests.

One of the top things on our list to see here was a Flamenco show. Flamenco is a genre of Spanish music that includes singing, dancing, guitar playing, and palmas (handclaps). Seeing the women dancing in their traditional flamenco dresses, hearing the beautiful singing of the men on stage, and listening to the magnificent guitar playing, made this one of the top experiences we have had in Europe! We were mesmerized by this traditional show and the two hours seemed to pass rather quickly.
Before the show
The men
The next day we went to the Alcazar, a royal palace built in 913 that was home to many kings and caliphs, though it was originally built as a Moorish fort. Throughout the decades it has been expanded and rebuilt many times.

After our visit to the Alcazar our time in Seville had come to an end. We packed up the van and made our last long drive of the trip. Next up Toledo and Madrid!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and fascinating blog! The mosque is absolutely gorgeous! The first thing that I noticed about it was the red and white archways which was certainly very different and something I would not expect to see in a mosque! It actually reminded me of two things - a peppermint and the city of Venice! I was also fascinated by the Jewish Quarter and seeing all the flower boxes on the walls of the buildings! (To me it's still unbelievable to find ancient synagogues still standing in places that I wouldn't expect them to be! What a wonderful thing to know that there once was a thriving Jewish community! I love the flower boxes on the walls! Definitely a European thing!) And the Flamenco show sounded like it was a lot of fun and something not to be missed! I know I keep on saying this in many of your blogs, but the architecture of the buildings in Europe are so beautiful and absolutely breathtaking! And one last thing, I just love the pic of you and Lori at Alcazar at the royal palace! Great shot of the both of you looking at the magnificent view of the palace! Love it all!!