After two nights spent in Madrid, my family and I took a guided tour to the Andalusia region. Considering that so far, we’d only visited Barcelona and Madrid in Spain, we were interested in checking out other places in the country. Our tour lasted four to five nights and almost every day we were visiting a new city or town in the south of Spain, having come from the central part of Madrid.
We woke up super early in the morning to catch our tour coach (along with seven other travelers). At 8h00, we left Madrid, spending about three to four hours driving through the rocky, desert-y landscape of Spain, which actually reminded me a lot of the desert between California and Nevada when I would go visit Las Vegas with my family as a child. Anyway, I digress, but the scenery was pleasant to look at.
Eventually, we arrived in Córdoba in the afternoon, and soon right after, we started our two, three-hour walking tour of the city. In fact, it used to be the capital of Spain back in the day, and had been part of the Islamic empire in the eighth century before being reconquered by the Spanish in the thirteenth century. It used to be a very multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious city, inhabited by Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, all of whom had lived in harmony until the Inquisition in the late fifteenth century, when people were forced to convert to Catholicism, or otherwise expelled from their homes.
We spent the first part of the tour walking through the medina, which is essentially a maze of narrow streets bordered by high city walls, and was once part of the Muslim quarter. It was nice to walk through it, but not wander off, just because you can get easily lost in it especially if you are not familiar with it! Saw a lot of doorknobs of houses shaped like a crooked hand, which our local guide told us represented humility or some other virtue among the Islamic community.
We made many twists and turns around the corners of the medina, eventually reaching the end of it in front of the mosque-cathedral of Córdoba which back in the day used to be a mosque, but today is officially known as the cathedral. It’s interesting to see a place change names having changed hands in power over the centuries with such ethnic and religious diversity and funny enough, it contains both the mosque part and the cathedral part, and we visited both sides of it. Definitely stunning with its meticulously laid-out mosaic-like designs and Byzantium atmosphere that made me feel as if I was in Turkey or something (although I haven’t been there, and so I’m probably being highly inaccurate with the architecture, but well…). From the pillars and the stunning nave from the mosque and cathedral sides, respectively, I enjoyed all of the architecture porn.
We exited the mosque-cathedral, and we were given some free time to wander around the area before we had to return to our coach and head off to our next destination in Andalusia. Checked out the old Roman Bridge just right next to the mosque cathedral, which was golden and lovely in the late afternoon sun, and that was about it. Shortly thereafter, we left Córdoba.
Overall, it was a short, but pleasant visit to Córdoba. Although we spent no more than three, four hours there, I found it to be a very charming city, rich with history and architecture. The mosque-cathedral was beautiful, not to forget historically very interesting. It was a good city to start out with for the Andalusian tour, for it got me excited to see what else the region had in store for us!
More to come soon. Next up: Seville, Spain!
— The Finicky Cynic
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