Moorish Ruins and Córdoba

I have neglected writing about my travels in Spain for a while!  October was pretty busy for me… but I’m back!  I hope you all have a Happy Halloween and All Saints Day/Día de los Muertos!
I went on an organized day trip with my program (Academic Programs International) to Córdoba the day after the Wig Party, and that day marked a significant moment for us: March 16, 2012 = the first time any of the Americans had seen RAIN since we had arrived in Spain!  And when it rains, it POURS.
The day started out overcast, and we went to the ruins of a Moorish city called Medina Azahara just outside of Córdoba.  The ruins were really cool!  The Moors were a highly intelligent bunch; they even had a pretty advanced plumbing system (check out the 2nd picture: the “toilet” was a hole in the ground, but underneath was impressive plumbing).  Also, there were these adorable hairy caterpillars EVERYWHERE.  Not exaggerating.  The guide said that if we had arrived a week prior, we would have seen the walls completely covered in caterpillars!  We enjoyed exploring the ruins, but the sky soon parted and the drops started falling.  We weren’t able to stay because there was nowhere to take shelter.  Having been caught off guard by this completely foreign concept of water falling from the sky (What? It actually rains in Spain? Crazy!), no one had thought to bring an umbrella, so those who had scarves used them to protect their heads.  I am so glad I had brought mine!  We ran right back to the bus and headed off to Córdoba.
Medina AzaharaMoorish toilet
These little guys were EVERYWHERE!!!Everyone get together and act happy!
I love arches.Love those flower pots!Marita and I trying to keep our hair drySO. INTRICATE.
I think the rain put a damper on everyone’s spirits (we got over the excitement of actually seeing rain fairly quickly), because the general consensus was feeling unimpressed with Córdoba itself.  This might have also been because we were comparing it to Sevilla, and both cities are extremely similar: mudejar-style architecture with intricate details, great tapas, charming mazes of cobblestone streets and narrow alleys, Andalusian cities sitting on the Guadalquivir River, a rich cultural history, etc.  Córdoba even has a tower that looks almost exactly like La Giralda!  All of these things are wonderful, of course, but for us it was like Córdoba was Sevilla’s twin, and we were meeting her for the first time when she was sick with a cold.  However, it didn’t stop us from appreciating the minor differences!  One of my favorite observations was that some of its street names were very creative and displayed that lovely Spanish humor.

This street name means “Where You Are Going”

The Mesquita (mosque) was the most impressive part of Córdoba.  I’d always seen pictures of it in Spanish travel books and photography, and the real thing was awe-inspiring!  What I had no idea about, though, was that the Catholics gave the biggest insult to the Moors in the Mesquita by building a gorgeous altar and church right smack dab in the middle of it.  It really was breathtakingly beautiful, and I loved the contrast between the two religions.  I think my favorite thing I noticed were scenes from Jesus’ life (like the Stations of the Cross) in between Muslim arches.  That was such a huge culture clash, but in a beautiful way.

Those famous archesJesus in a Muslim arch.Right smack dab in the middle of it all.GorgeousScenes from Jesus' life in a Muslim arch

After seeing the Mesquita, it was time to go.  We left the city through an arch that led to a massive bridge that spanned across the Guadalquivir River.  Looking back at the city from that point was giving us a gorgeous view of it.  By this point the sun had come out and Córdoba looked like she was enjoying the sun’s rays.  We took our last glances at Córdoba, then got back on the bus that would take us home to Sevilla.

Córdoba's equivalent of our GiraldaPray for safe passage to the other side?ArchangelEntrance into the city. Or exit, for us.Guadalquivir flowing swiftlyCrossing el ríoAww, Córdoba! You look so pretty here!Spain's iconic bull

I hope to return one day during Córdoba’s spring festivals where the entire city is covered in flowers!  That would definitely be a sight to behold.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s