Where: Cordoba, Spain
When: February 2015–My sister and I arrived in Granada, stayed for 3 days and traveled to Seville for the next 6 days. Seville was homebase for the latter part of the trip and we took two days for field trips to nearby Cordoba & Ronda.
Weather conditions: 65 F+ throughout the day, breezy, and beautiful sunshine beaming down on us
How did we get there? 45 minute train ride from Seville and quick taxi ride to the Mezquita. It was a self directed tour of the city–we wound up just starting from the Mezquita and walking back to the train station–slowly winding our way through the narrow, twisty streets and making many stops along the way to significant historical sites.
How long?: Left Seville at 9:24 am and we arrived 10 am and we caught a 6:50 pm train and we were back in Seville by 7:30 pm
Main attractions: Mezquita or the Great Mosque, the Roman Bridge, Alcázar de los
Reyes Cristianos (royal palace and sometime prison), Viana Palace, Sinagoga, and Roman Temple
Favorite attraction: Roman Gate and Bridge–great example of Roman architecture at its best
Favorite museum: Palacio de Viana: Museum of the Patios – All the year round
The Viana Palace, declared a National Historical and Artistic Landmark and Artistic Garden, is one of the main tourist attractions of Cordoba. Its 12 stunning courtyards have given rise to its popular name “The Museum of the Patios” (http://english.turismodecordoba.org/seccion/visit-the-patios-of-cordoba-spain-world-heritage).
Only pictures of the outside spaces–the hour long tour of the traditional Spanish style courtyard home was well worth the time and money–it offers a glimpse into life throughout the years as the home grew to suit the needs of its various occupants. The home was owned by a single family for several generations which kept the integrity and many of the original furnishings and decorations of the family.
Hidden Gem: Roman temple in the center of the city inhabited by feral cats who live off of food and water left by people under the fenced off area–they were so cute lazing about in the sun and pointedly ignoring passersby taking their picture.
Favorite historical site: Mezquita or the Great Mosque–Just an amazing structure. It is probably my favorite site that we visited throughout the tour of southern Spain. I loved how a Christian cathedral was plopped in the middle of the Great Mosque. The mix of culture and religion and history is evident in the building. It was overwhelming to walk through and keep track of the various histories and religions competing for my attention. The large empty spaces only separated by red marble columns and the mix of Gothic, Renaissance, & Baroque arches and architecture were such a sight to see.
Interesting to note: We visited houses of worship for the three monotheistic religions in one day–The Mezquita being both mosque and cathedral and the Sinagoga (one of three medieval synagogues to survive the Reconquista in Spain). The Sinagoga is currently being restored as it was used for other purposes throughout the years before returning to a house of worship. The Sinagoga is set off the narrow street and you have to enter from a small courtyard. However, there is a guard who requests where you are visiting from before allowing entry–he sort of controls how many people go through, but it was interesting that he needed to know where we were from.
Green Spaces: Not green as much as space open for pedestrians–the Roman Bridge (a pedestrian bridge) and several pedestrian streets Avenue of Americas leading to the train station bordered a long, narrow meeting point for people–looking at a map of Cordoba, there are several parks and green space ready to be explored on a longer stay. The gardens of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (below) were outstanding and a pleasure to stroll through.
Funny moment? In the Mezquita, watching a nun patiently and painstakingly steam iron an altar cloth while tourists weave in and out of the pews and snap pictures. It was such a mundane, domestic chore to be completed while in the middle of this great cathedral.
Tips:Watching a fellow tourist pick an orange (€1 fine if caught) from one of the many orange trees that line all Spanish cities we visited and his face purse up due to its sour taste. Found out later in visiting the gardens of the Real Alcazar in Seville that all of the sour orange trees planted throughout cities in Spain generate income from selling the orange blossoms and peels to the perfume industry for their scent.
On a return trip, I would see……….the Mezquita again (loved it that much), spend more time exploring the historic center and green spaces. There were several museums and churches that I would love to have time to explore.