The train ride between Sevilla and Córdoba is about 45-60 minutes, so a lot of people day trip to Córdoba from Sevilla to check out the Mezquita. We opted to stay two nights in Córdoba to get a better feel of the old town. For me, Córdoba’s old town is much more intimate than that of Sevilla.

Also for me, the history of Córdoba is more interesting than that of Sevilla. Sevilla is probably best know for its association with Christopher Columbus, where the city greatly benefited from all the riches plundered from the New World. Córdoba on the other hand was the culture and knowledge center of Andalusia when the rest of Europe was still in the Dark Ages. The great minds such as the likes of the Jewish physician, Mose Maimonides, and Muslim lawyer, Averroes were all here. Religious tolerance and open-mindedness both contributed to the sophistication.

The story of Córdoba’s rise started with the exiled Umayyad prince of Damascus, Abd ar-Rahman, defeating the Germanic Visigoth in the 8th century. Religious tolerance allowed Jews, Muslims, and Christians to live side by side, and flourish for 400 years until the radical Muslim Almoravid and Almohad from Morocco took over, and started religious persecutions that continued through the Spanish Inquisition under Christian rule. This is a lesson for us in the current day. As we become more intolerant and more nationalistic, we will slowly choke off innovation and advancement.

After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we proceeded toward the Mezquita. Given that most day trippers are wrapping up their day in Córdoba, the perfect time to visit Mezquita is in the late afternoon.

Some scenes along the way…

Some of the streets are only 2 meters wide
The Almadovar gate in the Old fortress wall
Andalusian homes have enclosed patios, arrangements very similar to the riads in Morocco
The Alcazar
A door in a random building

The Mezquita was a mosque before it was turned into a cathedral after Ferdinand III conquered Córdoba in 1236. Instead of demolishing the mosque, the Christians built a cathedral within the mosque and left portions of the mosque intact. What you see is an interesting juxtaposition of two religions on one site.

The side wall of the Mezquita
The Christian bell tower converted from a minaret at the Mezquita
The first thing you see as you enter the Mezquita are the rows and rows of the original red and white Islamic pillars
The varying colored marble columns were salvaged parts from ancient roman buildings
Ironically, the mosque was built on the original Visigoth church of St. Vincent. You can see remnants of the Visigoth mosaics very similar to what you’ll find during the Byzantine period.
Visigoth designs. Notice the defaced figures. Likely occurred during the more radical Islamic rule as human figure depictions are not permitted.
In my opinion, the mihrab is the star of the Mezquita
This Mihrab is the place where the Imam gives his sermon. All faithful face the Mihrab in the direction towards Mecca.
The beautiful arch
With its equally stunning dome

Past the Mirhab is the Cathedral section.

A painting depicting Ferdinand III accepting the key to the city of Córdoba in 1236
The dome in the treasury
After seeing the simplicity of the mihrab, seeing the alter was a shock. Too much. Notice the simple Muslim arches in the background to the left.
The different ceiling designs one right next to the other. Too much.
Here is a beautiful juxtaposition of the simple Visigoth ceiling and the Islamic arches.

After the hour-long tour of the Mezquita we headed over to the Museum of al-Andalus Life in the Calahorra Tower across the bridge. The museum offers a glimpse of what life was like during the prosperous al-Andalusian days.

Calahorra Tower
Entrance to the museum
Surgical instruments belonging to the Muslim surgeon al-Zahrwai, the Father of Modern Surgery. These date back to 900-1000.
Azalea, an astronomy instrument, invented by the astronomer Azarchel in the 1000s
Andalusian musical instruments
The view at the top of the tower, looking towards the Mezquita

As we wandered around town, waiting for restaurants to open for dinner, we happened upon the Calle de Flores.

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