Nom de Plumage

April 10, 2013

The Moorish Influence in Cordoba


The 10th-century Grand Mosque of Cordoba (Anda...

The 10th-century Grand Mosque of Cordoba (Andalusian city, Córdoba, Spain) —- The site of the Grand Mosque was originally a pagan temple, then a Visigothic Christian church, before the Umayyad Moors at first converted the building into a mosque and then built a new mosque on the site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Beware of gypsies roaming the streets of Cordoba in pursuit of unsuspecting tourists. I write from experience. They walk around in groups with big smiles on their faces and I am caught  when I walked past and smiled (being polite). One grabs my hand and reads my fortune in Spanish, and try as I might to pull my hand away or tell them I understand nothing of what is said, they have the audacity to ask for 10 euros. I think not! It became a game from the on, when each time I would pass a group of them, I would make sure to show my displeasure. I hate being rude and I struggle to show any ill will towards anyone, but a smile can also get me into trouble and that is when I need to acknowledge that not everyone in this world is kind and polite. To be caught once is enough.

But let me not let you believe that Cordoba is full of unkind people or that it is not a place worth visiting. The highlight is definitely the Mezquita. An ancient stone cathedral, built by the Moors and then taken over by the Catholics,and is a mosque at present,it is situated in the heart of the city. It is massive. Even though it now belongs to the Arabs, the Moors have left an indelible imprint and to me, it is more Moorish and that is why it has this appeal. I enter the courtyard, laid with uneven stones and orange trees. Their fruiting season is still in bloom, the tree still holds her green foliage and the unmistakable smell of citrus still permeates the air. The entrance to the cathedral is ordinary, but only when you enter, that the ordinary becomes extra-ordinary.

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I took no photo’s inside. I did not even ask if it is permissible because in all other places of worship that I have visited, the same rule generally applies. The Mezquita is row upon row of stone arches, highlighted with red bricks, it is a unique and stunning place. There are no relics, gold, frescoes or anything usually associated with cathedrals. Simple, elegant and very beautiful, the Moors may have bequeathed the cathedral to the Catholics at one stage, but they have left an impressionable mark and one that I will not easily forget.

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The ‘old quarter’ of Cordoba is an intricate stone trail of white-washed walls that surround the massive monument. There is not a lot to see. But then again, not everyday needs taken up with museum visits and standing in queues. Today was a day of enjoying the peace and beauty of a little part of Spain.

Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain. This mosque, known a...

Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain. This mosque, known as “La Mezquita” — Spanish for ‘the mosque’ — is currently used as a cathedral. It features supporting columns made of talc (soapstone). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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