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Published: September 16th 2016
Cordoba lays about a 45-minute train ride east of Seville. Cordoba was once the center of Muslim power in Andalusia until it was eclipsed by Granada. I knew of these cities by word of mouth but I wouldn't have been able to point to them on a map with ease. Having now visited a few I can tell you that each has its own flavor. While Granada is more intimate, having been made over when Ferdinand and Isabel moved their royal court there; Cordoba still retains its old Medina maze of streets just as you'd see in Fes or Meknes in Morocco. The difference being that in Morocco the shops would be selling vegetables and spices while those in Cordoba are doling out high-priced nougat candy and expensive cups of coffee.
Cordoba is split by a fast moving river. There's an old Roman bridge that crosses from our hotel to the old city. The river is broad and filled with marsh grasses that shelter thousands of birds. From our room we can see the old Mosque on the hillside across the river. The Catholic Spaniards have architecturally abused the Mosque. Emasculating the minaret with a thick, sguare-stoned covering. After the
Spaniards reconquered Cordoba they took possession of the Mosque and tried to make it their own. They erected a Catholic church in the center of the Mosque which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the structure as if some demented wedding cake decorator had gone in and piped out massive festoons of cream-colored flowers and cupids.
The Mosque is THE reason to go to Cordoba. Built over a period of two hundred years it was continuously expanded. It is a remarkable place. A huge open hall supported on horseshoe arches perched upon over eight hundred marble columns, many of which were salvaged by the Damascus Arabs from ancient Roman ruins. Decorated in beiges, browns and soaring Arabesques it is a one of a kind place and we have never seen anything like it on any of our previous travels. While the Alhambra is a massive complex of separate rooms and buildings the Cordoba Mosque is a single expansive construction that flat out; blows you away.
The old Medina is worth a half-day stroll. Many of the buildings are original Riads that have been given over to hotels and B&B's. The population of the old city seems
to be made up only of tourists and shop keepers who close their shutters in the evening and scurry off to their modern homes in the suburbs.
While we were here Cordoba was muy, muy calor mi amigos. We spent 5 nights and the sultry weather didn't break until the day before we departed. We would have been better off with no more than a three day stay in Cordoba but live and learn as they say.
Dining became an issue as we grew tired of the same Andalusian cuisine day after day. There's only so much cheese and ham one can devour. Forays to Mexican, Italian, 'American' and Indian restaurants were less than we had hoped. A jar of Pace salsa would be a divine blessing in this country.
We're heading to Seville. A place we know not a damned thing about. We're funny that way.
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