luni, 7 februarie 2011

Andalusia - Cordoba

During our trip from Andalusia, we decided to dedicate do Cordoba only one day. Last week, doing some research for this post about Cordoba, I realised we saw only a little bit of this ciy, maybe the most significant, but only a very little bit. 

Cordoba's history is over 2.000 years old. Both the Romans and Muslims contributed to the city's status as a capital city. Every culture that has set foot on this city has left its mark, and they remain evident up to this point in time.

The Moors conquered Cordoba in 711. During the time of Islamic Rule, Cordoba shined as the biggest city and was home to the most sophisticated culture and most developed officialdom in Europe. When Damascus disposed the Umayyad Caliphs in 750, the dynasty relocated to Cordoba, ruling there until 929. 

The most significant monument in the city is the former Mosque known as Mezquita (the third largest Mosque in the world).

The building was begun around the year 600 as the Christian Visigothic church of St. Vincent. After the Islamic conquest of the Visigothic kingdom, the church was divided between the Muslims and Christians. 

The Mezquita's outer walls are built in marble with some typical moorish decorations.

The architectural design of this bastion is a mixture of Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, Syrian, and Persian fundamentals. La Mezquita was sanctified as a cathedral when the Christians took over the Moorish empire in Cordoba in 1236. 

The building is most notable for its giant arches, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple which had occupied the site previously, as well as other destroyed Roman buildings. The double arches, pictured above, were a new introduction to architecture, and helped support the tremendous weight of the higher ceilings. 

The mosque also features richly gilded prayer niches. A centrally located honey-combed dome has blue tiles decorated with stars.

The mihrab is a masterpiece of architectural art, with geometric and flowing designs of plants. Traditionally, the mihrab of a mosque faces in the direction of Mecca; by facing the mihrab, worshipers pray towards Mecca. Mecca is east-southeast of the mosque, but the mihrab points south.

The open court of Mezquita is also surrounded by arcades, screens of wood, minarets, colourful mosaics, and windows of coloured glass. The walls of the mosque had Quranic inscriptions written on them.

The houses around Mezquita have beautiful features, like this one with multiple laced blue arcades and thin columns on the windows.

If you want a tour of the city by horse, you have what to choose from.

Across the river Guadalaquivis is Torre de la Calahorra, a tower erected by the Moors in order to prevent the city from being attacked.

We walked on the narrow streets, heading to the Cordoba's Alcazar.

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos or The Palace of the Christian Kings was re-erected in the year 1328 by King Alfonso XI, the Spanish King of Castile and Leon. The entire castle covers over 4,000 square meters and in its interiors are impressive Arabian baths, Roman mosaics and even a sarcophagus of marble from the 3rd century.

Even if this structure was built during the Christian period, its gardens are characteristically Moorish in design comprising of ponds, water cascades and sweet ambrosial plants.
During the summer season, several musical concerts are held in this site, most notable of which is the Cordoba Guitar Festival.
The best known personality born in Cordoba was the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca. And from our days I should tell you the name of the famous flamenco dancer Joaquin Cortes.

2 comentarii:

Marie spunea...

Oh, wow, that mosque is particularly beautiful. Thank you for the tour, definitely worth a trip!

The Fairy's Apprentice spunea...

Is true, Marie, is a magnificent place on earth. The whole Andalusia is such a place, anyway!