Friday, 13 January 2017

Cordoba - Part B

Tuesday 8 November

Our first chilly day of the holiday. The temperature supposedly ranged from 8 to 17 C, but unless one was in sunshine, one felt quite frozen.

At 10.30 am, our lovely and  exceptional guide Pakita, met us at the Alcazar Fortress of the Christian Monarchs - a Moslem Alcazar once stood here.

I've been getting quite confused reading different articles about the naming of this fortress. The terms castle, fortress, palace, castle, alcazar, have all been used in different contexts.
I googled the definition of alcazar - 'a Spanish palace or fortress of Moorish origin' and it seems they all refer to the same thing.

Below is a map of the gardens and the Alcazar of Cordoba, taken from google maps with my laptop. The arrow is the Lion Tower and our entrance point. The red circle shows the quadrangular buildings of the Alcazar.

Immediately we stepped through the entrance archway, we were in the palace gardens, where the Moorish influence of creating with water, perfume and texture was obvious.

The gardens were on 3 distinct terraces.
We passed through the Lion Tower to, 2 large pools - water fed from the mountains. Large fish were swimming in the clear water.

Terrace 2 - The water, collected in the ponds, is channeled down to 3 consecutive, rectangular pools. The first two were bordered by different colours of plants and boxwoods. Unfortunately the fountains
in the pools weren't working.

The third pool was bordered by tall hedged cypress, interspersed by statues of noted figures of the time.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, governed Spain from here, for 8 years, in the 15th C. It was here that Columbus asked Queen Isabella for backing for his historic journey to the Americas, hence their statue below.

End view.

The third area is boxwood, planted in a grid pattern and creating wonderful rose gardens.

Looking back to the Alcazar.

All too soon, Pakita ushered us into the Alcazar complex, built in the 13th / 14th C on the remains of its Moorish predecessor.
One hall displays some remarkable Roman mosaics dug up from the Plaza de la Corredera in the 1950's.

There are 2 courtyards. The one below is of the Mudejar style. Its cool marble floors, the murmur of water running down channels and into ponds, is very soothing, especially I imagine, on an extremely hot summer's day.

This Roman sarcophagus, dating back to the 3rd C, is a pagan work depicting the journey of the dead to the underworld via a half opened door.

The Mosaic Hall is a former chapel of the Inquisitions, but now it displays a collection of Roman mosaic art of the 2nd and 3rd C.

This room adjacent to the Mosaic Hall is supposedly set up ready for an inquisition.

View from the Mosaic Hall.

At the completion of our tour through the Alcazar of Cordoba, Pakita took us through the Jewish Quarter streets and on to the Mosque Cathedral.

The outside wall of the Mosque Cathedral as seen from our street - Calle del Meson del Sol.

The mosque, begun in 785 by Emir And al-Rahman, grew over a long period of Moorish rule to its size - 180 m by 130m. Inside are 850 coloured, granite, jasper, onyx or marble columns, supporting red and white striped double, horseshoe shaped arches. When the Christians ousted the Moors, they recognised the craftsmanship and beauty of the mosque and made the decision to build the Cathedral within its arches, but rising above the mosque. The result is extraordinary.

The cathedral was consecrated in 1236 and like the mosque, grew and changed over many years.
Apparently locals are heard to say, 'I'm going to the Mosque to hear mass.'

Left is the Bell Tower entrance to the Mosque Cathedral and on the right, the entrance from our street.

We climbed the Bell Tower later in the afternoon, but it dominates the old city skyline no matter where you are.

The view from the tower takes in the Patio del los Naranjos or the ablution courtyard of the Mosque.

Beside the fountain was this incredibly old, olive tree. Initially we thought it was dead, with the leaves coming from a younger tree behind the thick, old trunk. My 2nd photo gives a clearer view of the younger branches at the top of the trunk.

This photo gives a clear view of how the Christians built their Cathedral within the Mosque building.

Originally the mosque minaret stood where the the Bell Tower now is. Fortunately it was preserved within the tower. 

The top of the Bell Tower gave us 360 degree views of Cordoba.

It was impossible to capture the vastness of the mosque. Its beauty is just astounding.
View through the arches.

The view between and along the arches.

At the end of each corridor, were latticed windows allowing the entry of soft light.

The magnificent Mihrad, indicates the direction of Mecca and amplifies the prayers given by the Imam, throughout the mosque.

Another view of the double arches.

A view into the cathedral. The altar is just to the right.

Gothic ceilings above the altar.

Other views.

Gothic ceiling of the Capilla Real, with its silver tabernacle and 9 statues of the saints.

Tour of the Jewish quarter and their 'hidden' synagogue.

Maimonides - Jewish philosopher, astronomer and physician, was born in Cordoba.

Indentations into the walls of narrow allies was supposedly to allow passage of the laden carts. 

In 1570, King Phillip II, built the Royal Stables to breed thoroughbred Spanish horses. We were able to watch the morning training session. I didn't want to leave.

Photos from our last day of wandering.

Another courtyard I wanted to see more of.

Cordoba's major festival, The Patios Competition, is held in May. [patios - courtyard].
There are at least 50 flower filled courtyards, festooned with the colour of flowering pot plants, to be visited.

 Our visit to Cordoba has been equally as thrilling as that of our visit to Granada, but it is a more natural and relaxed city. I felt more comfortable wandering through its windy, narrow cobbled streets, with their lowset, white homes and peering into their hidden courtyards. So glad to have spent time in both. 

I would love to read your comment.


  1. Such fabulous buildings! I liked especially the Cathedral and the small Synagogue.
    I googled the Patios Competition. What fun, inspiring photos there were! That is something I really would like to visit. :)
    As always, thank you very much for sharing!
    I hope you will have lower temperatures soon.

    1. I would love to be there for the competition, but it would be sooooo crowded.

  2. What a fabulous place to tour! Such history! Loved all your photos. All your recent wanderings makes me want to plan a trip somewhere.


    1. I thought you were planning for Oz!
      As Europe is such a total contrast to Oz, the impact on ones senses is so much greater.

  3. Beautiful! Would that people could get along as well as those two parts of the Cathedral Mosque. A marvelous tour, Helen. By the way, the path in mine goes to a small dam created to keep some of the sediment from the eruption from flowing down the Toutle River to the Cowlitz River--and then into the Columbia River. The Dam has worked for well over 20 years, but will have to be raised up to continue. Thanks again for visiting, and thanks for taking me to Spain.

  4. The water features in the gardens looked stunning and the architecture of the mosque breathtaking. What a wonderful city, thanks again for sharing and giving me me more places to visit on my travels!