So sorry for the late post everyone; it’s been a bit of a crazy day but I promise, we’ll catch up right quick no problem.
On our drive to the train station, we passed one last landmark in Seville: the old city wall! This is just a section of it, of course, but you can see how much lower it is than some of the other walls we’ve seen. I find the double row fascinating though! It’s not much if a stop though, as there’s no rampart to walk or museum to tour…just the wall to look at.
It’s only about 45 minutes on the train to Cordoba, which is a lovely little city. We took a taxi to our next hotel too and on less than a 10 minute drive we passed 3 parks, a giant fountain, both Roman and Moorish artifacts, and the river!
So we headed down to check out the river and our first stop: the Roman bridge. This exact bridge has been here (plus or minus a few repairs, of course) for over 2,000 years!
It even has a watermill, though this is substantially newer at only 1100 years old (roughly).
Across the street, you get a great summary of Cordoba history in one shot. On the right, you have the Roman triumphal arc, mostly unchanged since about the 2nd century BC (the tiny arc on top is much newer, added after Spain took over this area, and features the Spanish national coat of arms). In the middle background, you have the mosque walls dating from the Islamic era which began in about 700 AD. Finally, all the way to the left you have a statue the Catholic kings of Spain put up when they conquered the area in the 1400s!
It was freakishly hot today, so we decided seeing the Mosque-Cathedral was the best course of action. (Yes, you can go up the tower, but we didn’t; at 100 degrees, it was too hot for us to climb anything challenging outside like that!)
When you first walk in, you enter the oldest part of the original mosque, built in the 700s by the Muslim Moors who ruled this region at the time. Doesn’t look incredibly Islamic? That’s because the materials they used weren’t – they just used old stuff the Romans left behind! The double arches with the red stone stripes, commonly seen on things like Roman aqueducts, are actually much older than the building itself and just got reused to make the Moors’ lives a little easier.
As you continue deeper into the Mosque-Cathedral, it becomes more Islamic. The city population was growing rapidly, and they had to expand the mosque twice just to fit everyone: once in the 800s and once in the 900s. As that happened, they started using more of their own style and artwork to create these beautiful prayer walls and domes!
Much like in the Alcázar, they used a combination of stone carving and tile mosaic, though there was a heavier emphasis on the tiling here.
Here’s where the most interesting change takes place: check out the ceiling! Within the same building, we switch from 900 AD Islamic Moorish mosque (carved wooden ceiling) to 1500 AD Catholic Spanish cathedral (stone Gothic dome). That’s right, after Spain conquered the city, they just expanded the old mosque rather than tear it down and turned the new part into a cathedral! Incredibly, many of the red and white striped arches can be found in both sides; we’re uncertain if these were also found Roman leftovers or if they were purposefully made to match.
This is the center of the Cathedral. Called “the crossing”, there are 4 elliptical domes which all meet at one center dome that’s even higher! Skylights let in a lot of natural light and lend the entire area a bright glow that seems very fitting for such a sacred space.
Each dome has its own specific area underneath, including space for things like the choir stand, pews, and the main altar, as well as a large number of chapels behind everything.
The main altar under the pinkish dome.
Finally, to the side of the entire thing, there is a lovely courtyard full of orange trees and other decorative greenery. Most of the trees are tall enough now to block out the mosque walls and the back of the cathedral, but you can still see the taller dome areas above everything! (The tower we didn’t climb is behind us in this picture, serving as the door to the courtyard from the street.)
Today our comments winner is…Zoe E! Yes, again – that’s what happens when she’s 90% of the comments in a single day. Remember, likes are being ignored! If you just like a picture or a post, that doesn’t count for anything. Only comments are being counted as daily contest entries!