Cordoba, the Spanish jewel of Andalucia
Córdoba is one of my favourite cities in the World. It’s greatest years of glory were from 756 to 1031, when it was the capital of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). It was during this period that it’s most famous piece of architecture, the Mezquita (Great Mosque), was built. The first part in the 8th century and the fourth and final section, in the late 10th century. The beautiful red and white interior is stunning. It would have originally been open on all sides for prayer as a mosque during the Moorish rule but was closed in when it was reclaimed as a Catholic church. Marked out for demolition, it was ultimately saved by the King as he couldn’t bear to see it’s beauty destroyed.
It has been estimated that in the 10th century Córdoba was the most populous city in the world and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakram II it became a centre for education. One of the World’s first universities was established here. The contribution to mathematics and astronomy were huge. Córdoba became the intellectual centre of Europe. Christians, Moslems and Jews lived side by side with little disharmony. The city boasted street lighting, paved streets, luxurious villas, stunning parks and real water closets with plumbing. The height of sophistication! I would love to have seen it in it’s heyday,
The city is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river and trade from the Far East was prevalent. Spices, silks, foodstuffs etc. all came through it’s port. Alas the river has silted up dramatically since those days and is now impassable for big ships.Near the Mezquiita is the old Jewish quarter which is worth a visit as well as in the Old Town, the original seat of the Spanish Inquisition. The Roman bridge over the river has recently been tastefully renovated and there is beautiful architecture to see everywhere.
Tourism is especially intense in Córdoba during May because of the weather and as this month hosts three festivals.
The May Crosses Festival takes place at the beginning of the month. During three or four days, crosses of around 3 metres height are placed in many squares and streets and decorated with flowers and a contest is held to choose the most beautiful one. Usually there is regional food and music near the crosses.
The Patios Festival is celebrated during the second and third week of the month. Many houses of the historic centre open their private patios to the public and compete in a contest. Both the architectonic value and the floral decorations are taken into consideration to choose the winners. It is usually very difficult and expensive to find accommodation in the city during the festival.
Córdoba’s Fair takes place at the ending of the month and is similar to the better known Seville Fair with some differences, mainly that the Seville one is private, while the Cordoba one is not.
Please take a day out to visit the gem that is Cordoba. You won’t regret it.