Maybe it was because of the almost 42°C temperature, or because by the time I got to visit my feet were almost broken, but what I came to think of Cordoba is that it’s slightly overrated. My two day stay revolved around the old city, with its Jewish quarter, the Alcazar and the Mosque. Within walking distance of the old city is the Hosteria Lineros 38 (Calle Lineros 38): small hostel near bars and restaurants, it perfectly reflects the Moorish feeling and architecture.
One of the things Cordoba is famous for is its beautiful patios: hidden behind a house’s front gate you can suddenly find yourself looking at one, when walking around the Juderia, with typically narrow streets and white buildings. The Synagogue however doesn’t live up to the expectations: almost impossible to find, even with a map, it consists of one single room almost completely destroyed.
…it makes you want to jump in…
The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, the fortress of the Christian Kings, isn’t monumental like the Alhambra in Granada or the Real Alcazar of Seville but its gardens are worth a visit (price is 2€, free entrance on Fridays): with its endless pools surrounded by trees and bright, colourful flowers, it makes you want to jump in. The Alcazar’s highest tower offers a pretty view of the Mosque-Cathedral’s bell tower.
Although the city itself wasn’t at all what I expected, it’s Mosque-Cathedral is one of the most stunning buildings I have ever seen. It is simply unique and more than worth the 8€ entry price. Today a World Heritage Site, it once was the Great Mosque of Codoba, built in 785 after the demolition of the Church of San Vincente. In 1236 King Ferdinand III captured the city and turned the Mosque back into a Christian Church.
…a religious site that professed two different religions…
The result of these religious changes is what we can see today: a Cathedral that is partly Mosque and a Mosque that is partly Cathedral. It is no wonder Pope John Paul II said in 1985: ‘it is an occasion to manifest the fraternity between the people who profess their faith in an only God.’ I never thought it would be possible, a religious site that professed two different religions, but there it was, right in front of me: the Crucifix, symbol of Catholicism, underneath an Arabic arch, typical of mosques built very frequently in Islamic culture.
In the end, even though Cordoba is clearly not on my top list of favourite cities, its Mosque-Cathedral is so stunning that I recommend it to everybody: maybe only for a quick trip, just one day, but it definitely is a must see.
Images courtesy of the Cordoba Tourist Board