Published: October 12th 2009October 12th 2009
Saturday morning saw Gaynor and I arriving in the Historic area of Cordoba. This city was used as an enclave for Roman troops because of its strategic importance. (We were able to see some of the roman ruins which are still there.) Early in the eighth century it fell to the Moors.
We began our wander in The Jewish Quarter which has narrow lanes with shops selling everything from beautiful hand painted fans to typical touristy stuff. Apparently Cordoba is famous for its silver jewellery and I've got to say some of the filigreed work we saw was very delicate.
As we walked we could hear someone playing a small pan pipe very loudly and repeatedly as we walked. It turns out he was a traditional knife grinder (on a motor scooter) who was calling people to bring their knives out to him. I saw the same thing again in another town later on but this time he was in a van. Gaynor says it's a bit of a dying trade here though (which isn't suprising really if you consider the price of petrol).
We stumbled across a museum, the Geleria de la Tortura, which displayed medieval torture
devices, some of which I'd never seen before. It's incredible the cruel things people can dream up to inflict on their victims.
Next stop was the much more cheery Antigua Mezquita. It is a mosque which was taken over by the Christians after Fernando III's conquest of the city. It was so beautiful that rather than tear it down they decided to expand it and add their own religious symbolism. This is probably a big part of the reason the mosque is still around and today it's a World Heritage Site. It has a range of artistic styles inside because work began in 785 and took nine centuries to complete! It's a very large building with rows and rows of red and white painted arch ways inside. You can tell which section is Moorish and which is Christian because they've hung different types of lanterns. Also in the Moorish section the ceilings are very ornate painted and gilded wood.
Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs is an adjacent building which has very famous gardens (which Gaynor loved!). The building has some interesting Roman mosaics dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. I particularly liked the one depicting a tragic
My favourite part of the garden
In Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs
The gardens outside are Moorish in design. There were lovely areas of shade under orange trees and surrounded my perfumed shrubs. I especially loved the impressive water gardens which were laid out over three different levels and edged by topiary trees, box hedging and mixed planting. The walkways were decorated with unsual pebbled mosaics.
Later we walked around the walls of the city where there is the old Moorish water wheel Albolafia which is very near the Roman bridge. Sadly we couldn't get too close to the wheel because they were doing road works! In a nearby plaza we sat and enjoyed a free concert by a spanish guitarist playing traditonal music, while we looked across the river.
I definitely reccomend Cordoba as a must see spot! It's got a fantastic atmosphere and so many different styles. Be warned, it can be a bit smelly in August when it's really hot.
There are more photos below