A while ago, I visited Cordoba in Southern Spain. Along with Seville and Granada, Cordoba is a must-visit destination in Andalusia. One of my favorite things about the Andalusian region is its history. The southern part of Spain was under Moorish rule from the early 8th century to the late 15th century (almost 800 years!). The Moors were groups of Muslim tribes from Africa who had incredible influence on Spanish culture and history. As a result, Andalusia has a rich Islamic history. It’s also the region home to the ‘traditional Spain’ and traditions like flamenco and bullfighting.
Corboda is no exception in honoring the history of its past. Cordoba’s golden era was the 10th century, when its advances in science and the arts outshine other powerful cities like Bagdad and Byzantium. A symbol of Cordoba’s power is the Mezquita, a mosque that still stands today. Known for its recognizable red arches, the Mezquita is one of the most impressive Islamic structures in the world. The Mosque was gradually expanded over the course of 200 years. Currently, there are more than 850 pillars. However, the Mesquita had more than 1,2000 pillars before the construction of the Cathedral in the center of the mosque.
The Cathedral in the center of the mosque was constructed in the early sixteenth century. Originally, the church wanted to completely destroy the Mosque and build a Cathedral on top of it. However, this was met with strong disapproval from local residence, who saw the Mosque as an symbol of Cordoba. Finally, the Spanish King gave approval to build a Cathedral in the center. This construction spanned several hundred years. Its very interesting to see the contrast between the Mosque and Cathedral, especially because it’s essentially one big building. There are no walls that separate the two, so contrast in architecture and design is magnified.
In order to enter the Mezquita, you walk through the Patio de los Naranjos. The courtyard is filled with orange trees and a central fountain. There’s generally a long line to get into the Mezquita, so you’ll normally see groups of tourists waiting to enter the Mosque. If you look up, you’ll see the bell tower.
On the outskirts of the center, you’ll find a Roman bridge that spans across the river. It’s not the original structure, but the bridge dates back to the 1st century. It’s been rebuilt many times since then, the last changes being made in 1876. (Fun Fact: This bridge was featured in Game of Thrones – season 5 episode 3!)
I was in Cordoba for only two days, which personally seemed like a sufficient time. The center of city, while quite small, is especially beautiful. It is characterized by winding streets in between white walled buildings lined with flower pots.
Overall, my 1.5 day visit to Cordoba was great! It’s a small enough city with enough winding streets that you feel like an explorer.