Part 23: Sevilla to Cordoba and the Cordoba Mezquita


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The Trip

Our time in Sevilla was up and our plan was to start moving toward Madrid for our exit from Spain.  A logical choice of paths was through Cordoba so we could see the Mezquita (Mosque) there.  From Cordoba, our plan was to continue on another 3 hours to Toledo and see the sights there before returning to Madrid and flying home.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We got an uncharacteristically early start on the day and managed to leave the hotel by 0930.  Traffic was light due to it being a Spanish holiday, so it allowed us an easy egress  from the city center.  Our path took us path this large bridge over the Guadalquivir River, but sadly the traffic did not allow us to stop for a better photo; an out the window shot was the best we could do.

We headed out of town on the A-4 autopiste and we passed this thermal solar plant.  Oddly, I see no generating facility nor did we see any power lines.

Another cool bridge over one of the local rivers in the Cordoba area.

Kathleen did an outstanding job of finding us un-challenging parking very close to the Mezquita.  Our path took us through a gate in the walls of the old city.  Note the nice stonework on the streets.  The site of the mosque/cathedral has been passed between the Christians and Muslims several times.  Construction of the initial church started with the Visigoths in the mid-6th century.  The Muslims came to the Iberian peninsula in 741 and the structure became a mosque in 786.  In 1146, after the reconquest of the peninsula, the church was re-dedicated as a Catholic temple and then again in 1236.

These arches are part of the old aqueduct that supplied water to the Mezquita.

The old part of the city had cobblestone streets that were just as narrow as Sevilla.

We thought about visiting the Alcazar of Cordoba, but the lines were daunting.  Around the block, literally.  Given our limited time (and patience) we had to carefully choose our battles, and the Alcazar lost.

We continued on to the Mezquita hoping the lines were shorter.  We did find a line for a cash-only ticket machine that was only 5 minutes long.  Above is one of the outside walls of the mezquita.  The structure has been "touched" by each of the cultures that occupied the area.  It has been enhanced 5 times since the Visigoths built the original cathedral.

This section of the exterior wall clearly shows the Arabic influence in the architecture.

We fought the crowds and finally got tickets.  Inside, our first view was the ornate ceiling carvings.

Inside, the original arches of the mosque are still in place.

The inside is huge, with lots of open space.  In one of the displays was this clock works from a local clock tower.  This dates to the 17th century.

As renovation and restoration has take taken place, portions of the original exterior have been preserved.

This brass bell was replaced by a bigger model.

Arabic inscriptions were saved as well.

One of the cases had old religious writings, all from the 17th century.

When the Christians took over, they just put their idolatry inside the mosque.  The juxtaposition is striking.

The transcept in the center of the building was quite amazing.  A church within a mosque within a church.

Ornate and detailed carvings decorated the ceiling of the transept.

All proper Catholic churches have organs, this one has a particularly large organ.

The central portion of the trancept was classic Gothic style.

The wood carvings in the back of the seats were highly detailed and carefully done.

All the old churches are heavily into idols, this one was no different.

I am not exactly sure what this item is, but it is ornate, detailed and seemingly made from gold.  It was in an armored case with at least one guard.

The Muslim portion of the church had intricate geometric patterns carved into the stone.

Personally, with no religious slight intended, I prefer the Islamic patterns to the Catholic/Gothic patterns.  That said, these patterns were quite a bit less complex than those we saw in Sevilla.

A crucifix hung under the Arabic-style architecture.  Note that there appears to be damage/erosion above the crucifix and on both the left and right sides of the proximal arches.

A nice stained glass window.

Heading outside, we got a nice view of the original bell tower, complete with bodies looking from the upper walkway.

A shade-side view of the exterior walls reveals a wealth of detail.

A square near the mezquita had this monument.

The square had a view of the Guadalquivir River.

While we were looking at the river a group of local fellows came by on their mounts.

We made our way to the opposite side of the mezquita and got a view of the bell tower.

We hopped into the car and headed toward Toledo.  On the way we passed this ruin that was visible from the highway.  There were also ancient windmills on the ridge behind the ruins.

Oh no!  Another local festival.  I can't say whether it is good luck or bad luck, but we have hit 3 of them so far.  This is a Toledo-specific festival honoring a local patron saint.  The access road to the hotel was closed off with barricades;  we had to move them to gain access to our hotel.  In the distance, on the right, is the Mirador.

Our first view of Toledo from the balcony of our hotel room.  Kathleen did a super job of getting us a great place.

Cordoba is a very interesting place, surely worthy of several days of exploration.  Sadly, we only had a few hours so we had to "skim the cream" off the top.  The Mesquita is really an awesome place and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984.  Worth a visit, worth a whole day and if you are in Cordoba, you should see the Alcazar as well.  Plan on lines at both sites.

We look forward to checking out Toledo in the few short hours that we can devote to the task before driving back to the madness of Madrid and then on to San Diego via London and L.A.  A long trip home is in store.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2017, all rights reserved.
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