Saturday, July 25, 2009


We flamenco'd out of Sevilla the next day and started our road trip, making our way to Cordoba, Spain. Along the way there was field upon field of Spanish sunflowers blooming in the sun. There was also this bull.... ...this bull is a famous symbol of Spain. Yet it is actually an advertisement for Spanish sherry (the liquor). Somehow the bull image took off and has become more of a national symbol than just a marketing image. There are 23 such bulls along the roads in the Andalucia region of Spain so we had fun seeking and spotting them!
We arrived in Cordoba midday and had fun walking around and about the Jewish Quarter with its impossibly narrow driving streets and a maze of corners and turns. These two were just too cute not to be photographed. Gotta love European fountains!We managed to twist and turn our way to Cordoba's crowning jewel...the Mezquita, a former mosque that dates from A.D. 784. This massive mosque was once the center of Western Islam and a wonder of the medieval world.The Mezquita's 900 columns create a forest of onyx, jasper, marble, and granite, topped by horseshoe arches of candy-striped red-and-white marble. Add decorative mosaics and plasterwork, and you have one of Europe's most breathtaking examples of Spanish Muslim architecture. The Mezquita was constructed as a mosque between the 8th and 10th centuries. Later it was partially destroyed and, in 1236, rebuilt as a cathedral. In its day, La Mezquita was the crowning Muslim architectural achievement in the West, rivaled only by the mosque in Mecca. (1,000 Places to See Before you Die)It is impossible for me to describe the wave upon wave of awe I experienced in the Mezquita. Unfortunately the photos don't do it justice. There is something so mesmerizing about the double arches as far as the eye can see. I literally walked around with my mouth hanging open. How had I never heard of this place before?!?!Here is the cathedral built in the middle of the mosque. It did make me sad to think what had to be destroyed to insert the church. I really am shocked at how widespread the practice of taking over the Muslim area was and converting what was into a Christian place of worship. It is a perplexing concept. I know I won't soon forget Cordoba's Mezquita. Definitely my favorite church in all of Europe thus far. The Moorish/Muslim/Islamic influence is hard to peel my eyes away from. So unusual and unfamiliar.We took Rick Steves recommendation and ate at Taberna Casa Salinas which was described as having "delicious and inexpensive plates"....sold. Too bad Rick didn't mention about the abysmal service. We are used to poor service in Europe, but they must have been having a really grumpy day. The waitress first made us move tables to a smaller set up to keep open the larger table - even though the place was practically empty. Then she kept bellowing at us and banging plates on the table even though we kept shushing her since Connor was sleeping in the stroller. Oh well. The food was indeed yummy to our tummies and we had fun together.We tried gazpacho soup and fried eggplant, both local specialities. And both scrumptious.Cordoba was a fun and surprising stop. Though I am glad we used it as a day stop rather than spending an entire night there. The Mezquita is beyond words and will be a terrific memory for me.
Click here for more photos of our Cordoba trip (full album)

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