Way south, between thousands of olive and orange trees, the mighty walls of Cordoba are rising…
While getting closer to Cordoba, I was wondering, what would I be thinking if I were a traveller, a thousand years ago? Probably I would have had to pass through thousands of olive and orange trees on the way to it. The region of Andalusia is still known as the biggest producer of oranges and olive oil. At that time would have been the capital of the Caliphate of Cordoba. Being built on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, I would have had to cross the Roman bridge through one of its thirteen gates and enter its high and thick Roman walls. I am sure I would have been impressed back then the same way I was impressed now to see this example of Roman engineering still very much in place after two thousand years. The history of the region goes back to the times of the Neandertals. There are traces that the valley was inhabited for centuries before the Carthaginians passed through. The Romans followed soon after and in the time of Cezar, Cordoba was the capital of the Roman province. When the power of Rome was dissipating, the Visigoths came in the picture until the 8th century when the Arabs conquered the city. The Roman bridge, Cordoba, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
The importance of Cordoba grew during the Arab occupation. It was the capital of the newly established Emirate of Cordoba and the mosque built here soon became the second pilgrimage place after Mecca. When I saw the Mezquita for the first time, I thought it was a palace, the size is impressive and the walls although simple have a certain beauty in its intricate details that captured my eyes. When I realized that is actually the Mezquita a “WOW“ came out of my mouth. I haven’t seen a mosque before. Although it was let’s say recycled and transformed into a cathedral the Mudejar architectural style is dominating the entire structure.
This mosque-cathedral is the first thing to see after entering through Puerta de la Puente. One thousand years before I would have been marvelled by its sight the same as I was when I saw it now.
The Mudejar intricate details are like a labyrinth for the eyes. I felt like losing my gaze while following every shape and every loop. It did not seem to end and the more it seemed without an end the more I was attracted to continue to find the end. Probably this chains of continuous symmetric loops are made this way to calm and focus the mind. Maybe…
Looking at it I realized how much this style can be found in the Manueline style I saw in Portugal at the monastery of Batalha. Suddenly it made sense. The richness of that style is drawing its roots from the Mudejar style.
Cordoba was one of the centres of learning along with Toledo and Granada. Translation schools were established and some of the great scholars were living here. Averroes a Muslim scholar that wrote about philosophy, especially comments of Aristotle. medicine, law, physics. His ideas influenced another great mind born here, Maimonides. Maimonides, one of the most important Jewish Philosopher of all times.
The influences of Arab culture and Jewish culture can be seen in today, Cordoba. The narrow cobbled streets full of flowers from Jewish Neighbourhood and the houses with beautiful patios adorned with beautiful ceramic tiles and Mudejar style architecture that make you think that maybe you might have entered in one of Scheherezade stories without knowing, are magical. My recommendation, the magic of the city at night is even stronger so I do recommend you to walk through it at night and if possible, as far from the touristic streets as possible
The Golden Age of arts, culture and science came at an end whit the Reconquista and a new era has begun. The Christian kings built the Alcazar within a walking distance from the mosque-cathedral. Today it looks like a charming medieval castle with an extended garden full of flowers, ponds, orange trees and kittens. Although, I am not sure how charming it was back then considering the fact that in one of the towers was the Inquisition.
I wanted to see Cordoba since I was a little girl. I always loved history so when I learned about it I wished one day I could see it. It was not what I was expecting, but not less beautiful. I woke up in the morning while the city was still sleeping and I roamed the street feeling that I have Cordoba all for myself. I noticed the modern Cordoba keeping protectively the old Cordoba at its bosom surrounding it and preserving it. In the heart of old Cordoba, time stays still enabling us to be some sort of time travellers for a while and this is so wonderful…