Cordoba: Mosques, Cathedrals and Guardian Angels

On the last day of our Andalucían holiday, Gareth and I visited Córdoba, which turned out to be the city we liked best. We managed to find a free parking spot on the banks of the Guadalquivir river and set out on foot towards the old town. Our first view of the city was of the impressive Roman bridge that spans the river. We didn’t realise it at the time, but the bridge was originally built in the 1st century BC – just imagine all the history it has witnessed since then!

While walking across it we noticed a woman lighting a candle and praying at a statue of an angel. Apparently there are many such “Triumphs” dedicated to the archangel Raphael scattered all across the city. As the angel of healing, the people of Córdoba erected these statues of their guardian angel during times of great suffering or plagues. The one on the bridge dates back to 1651, while the statue situated in the Plaza de la Compania just a little further on was erected in 1736.

The real reason for our trip to Córdoba was to visit its famous Mezquita-Catedral. Nowhere else in Andalucía is the juxtaposition between the Christian and Muslim religions as prominently visible as here. The site was originally home to a temple dedicated to the Roman god Janus, after which an old Christian monastery was built, which was later destroyed to make way for the Great Mosque. After the Christian conquest in 1236, the mosque was consecrated and the centre of the existing structure was pulled down and replaced by a Gothic cathedral. Gareth and I roamed it’s gloomy interior, intrigued by the mosque’s pillared red arches and admiring the Renaissance beauty of the cathedral. A section at the far end of the mosque was set aside as a museum containing pieces from the original monastery.

 
 

Once we’d had our fill of religious artefacts, and after a quick stop to appreciate the beauty of the courtyard with its neat rows of orange trees, we wandered up and down the streets of the old city, ducking into curio shops, taking pictures of the colourful Calleja de las Flores and coveting the Flamenco dresses on display. We stopped for lunch at a dodgy little restaurant called 101 Tapas, which did indeed have a 101 items on their menu, from which we picked a few at random and had a thoroughly enjoyable meal, before heading back to our car.

 
 

We were sad to leave this interesting city behind us, even more so because we were due to return home the next day, and hoped that we would someday have the opportunity to return for a longer stay.

For more posts in the Spain 2010 series, click here.

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