12 September 2011

Cordoba, Spain: A Historical Little Town

Today, I began my exploration of Cordoba with Mass at its main attraction: the Mezquita.  About Mass: there were more clergy there than I think I've ever seen!  Two deacons, six priests, two assistant bishops, and the bishop himself said Mass; it appears the priest shortage may be something unique to the Unites States.  In any case, it was very nice, and I was excited, since I could understand most of it and even got something out of the homily (interesting that it was about forgiveness on the anniversary of September 11, hmm?).  Now, about Meqzuita: take a look at the main altar above...

...and now check out this shot.  Yes, it's the same building; in fact, this was taken right next to the main altar.  Originally completed in 785 as a huge Mosque, the Mezquita was claimed by the Christians when they conquered Cordoba in the early 1200s.  In 1236, a cathedral was built smack in the middle of the old mosque, but other than the area of the cathedral (which has a huge altar and choir gallery, but almost no seats), the rest of the mosque--including the keyhole entrances, double-tiered arches (see above), courtyard, and colorful mosaics--was left intact.  It was a fascinating building to explore, not least because of the blend of religions and cultures.

The next thing I set out to see was the Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos (Fortress of the Christian Kings), which is a small palace complex built in the 1400s for Ferdinand and Isabella to stay in when they visited Cordoba. Historically, it is significant because it is here that many of the plans were made for the voyages to America.  Currently, it houses a museum of Roman mosaics, and one of its towers offers a stellar view of the Fortress itself in the foreground and the Mezquita in the background.

The crown jewel of the Alcazar is not the palace, but its magnificent and extensive gardens, with loads of flowers, manicured shrubbery, and fountains.  A riot of color in the late summer, I can only imagine how beautiful they must be in the spring!

My final sight of the day was the Synagogue, which in and of itself was pretty, but very tiny (only one room).  It has an elevated status, however, as one of only three remaining medieval synagogues in Spain, as most were destroyed during the Inquisition.  Near the synagogue, I stumbled upon one of my favorite things about Spain, particularly Andalucia: the beautiful patios that seem to be in the middle of every building.  This particular one formed the center of a complex of shops, but they are in houses and restaurants as well, and are such nice places to eat or sit or read.  I will miss them when I leave!

1 comment:

linda feldt said...

The picture of the Fortress of the Christain Kings looks like a Bethlehem scene for Christmas cards to me? The patios do look reflective. I too thought Sunday's homily of forgiveness quite appropo on 9/11. I was in Huron south Dakota. Love & prayers mom