When you leave one place and head off for a new one, you never quite know what to expect. Sure you can have an idea based on other people’s experiences or images you see in the media. I first heard of Córdoba a number of years ago in a photography forum. Someone has posted some pictures that wowed me. I had to know where that place was and see if one day I could go there. Turns out that place was the Mezquita in Cordoba. When Val did her first Camino she was so cold she asked me to find somewhere warm to go and I suggested here. She came and enjoyed her time here. As I had the opportunity to plan this trip, I made sure Córdoba was on the list.
To get here we caught a fast train ( i.e 250km/hour). If you want to know about the scenery on route I can sum it up in two words – olive trees. Enough said.
Within minutes of arriving here I formed my lasting impression of this place. Toledo smells of sewers. But Córdoba, ahhh. We went through a small park, just an ordinary park, and the air was heavy with the scent of orange blossom. Trees were laden with swollen fruit and the ground littered with oranges that had burst on impact and remained where they fell. A good first impression.
No orange blossom once you hit the maze of laneways lined with white houses. Some of these ‘streets’ are so narrow a car can barely fit down them. None of the little Smart cars or one seater Twizys that are so popular in Rome here.
Many of the homes have gorgeous window boxes or pot plants hanging on the walls all of which are planted with brightly coloured flowers. We are just two weeks short of the patio festival where houses are judged for their floral displays. All in all it is a very colourful feast for the eyes.
While I am on a gardening theme, the gardens at the Alcazar (fort) are stunning. I don’t usually get excited about gardens but these ones are said to be the nicest in Spain. And for good reason. A real refuge from the hot cobbled streets and there is sufficient space for tourists to spread out giving the appearance there aren’t that many of us (very false illusion trust me). Water gardens feature heavily and there is quite a strong moorish influence with water channels running through the gardens. The backdrop of the Alcazar serves as a very fitting backdrop.
I have taken you along a little journey that is yet include the very place that inspired this part of the journey – the fabulous Mezquita. This place is an old mosque dating back to the time of the Moors. After the Moors were booted out by King Freddie and Queen Issie the catholic darlings of Spanish history, the mosque was converted to a Cathedral. In the process the head honcho of the church at the time set out to beautify it. Apparently someone later apologised declaring it wasn’t really a successful endeavour. How noble of them but a bit late really. Great informative history lesson aside, this place is an interesting fusion of two different philosophical beliefs – one that doesn’t allow any images of anything living and shows the mystry of God using geometric design and the other, well let’s just say they go all out with depicting the very thing the other religion doesn’t.
The captivating feature of the Mezquita that draws most tourist is the pillars inside. Eight hundred and fifty pillars topped by candy cane stripped arches. On and on they go. Around every corner there are still more. Trying to create an effective image is the challenge. Hordes of people visit this place but they seem to congregate in particular areas so escaping them is quite easy.
Enough about the inside. On the outside the Minaret was replaced with a bell tower (of course) and I have to say that the bells sound somewhat flat and tinny. Not at all majestical nor fitting with its stature.
But wait there’s more. I went to a wedding there this evening. I was there as the bride and her pappa arrived, had dinner and then arrived back in time for the to exit from the Mezquita and have their photos taken (excuse the rather crappy wedding photography but since I was not the official photographer I did the best I could!)
Enough said about the mozzie as I prefer to call it. So let’s change topic to the kids in this place. It seems this is either confirmation or first communion season for 8 yr olds (that’s how old they look) and it’s a big deal here. Families dress up to the nines. The young boys tend to wear some form of militarised uniform. And the girls resemble powder puffs but perhaps I am being unkind as they really look like little brides. They pose for professional photographers much like the borde and groom above. Finally I managed to get one as she ran down some stairs.
Enough of youth, what about the geriatrics. Well they just kick their shoes off, sit around and watch the world go by.
I too an on a mission as having seen the mozzie, it’s time to move on again. Will Ronda smell of oranges?