A day in Cordoba
14 Feb 2012
We wake up bright and well rested in our hotel at Granada. Today we are to pick up our rented car and head to Cordoba. After breakfast, we check out and walk 15 mins to the rental car office. We reach later than the requested time but our car is not still there. The customer service representative is apologetic but the wait is not too long. I had booked a C4 but we get an upgraded to a Peugeot 508. It has a GPS which speaks only in Spanish but we work it out. With full insurance, no excess and a Eu 60 fee for returning in Malaga instead of here, we pay Eu 280 for 5 days. I had miscalculated the time needed to get on the road – it has taken us nearly 1.5 hrs to do so!
The drive to Cordoba is very picturesque. Mile after mile of olive plantations are intercepted now and then by white-washed villages. We reach Cordoba by 1pm. I have booked into a small family run hotel in the city centre, the Don Paulo. They have sent instructions on how to drive to their hotel as the city has changed to a complicated one-way system that GPSs don’t understand. In spite of written instructions, a Youtube video and a detailed map of Cordoba, we still get terribly lost. We go round in two narrowing circles before finally making it to the hotel. It is in a quiet rather non-descript, residential square but it is neat as a pin inside. The hosts are very kind and help us park in their subterranean lot (Eu 14). I am well pleased with the hotel.
After checking in, we head out towards the Mezquita-Catedral. We see a number of Moorish style houses with their patios converted into tea rooms with charming, Arabic style decor. We stop in one for coffee, bread and hummus. It will have to do as lunch today.
The Mezquita is not far. As we enter under the tower, I think that it might be called a bell-tower but it shouts Minaret!!
There is a shaded orangerie in front of the mosque. We buy the tickets but there are no audio guides. They do have a pamphlet in English with good descriptions. Bapi takes charge of the pamphlet and gives me an excellent tour, working out which bits were added in which century.
The insides are totally Mosque-like. The lovely columns (more than 850 of them!) and arches attract me and I keep clicking picture after picture.
The most beautiful part of the Mezquita-Catedral is the Mihrab which was built in 950 AD by Hakam II. In spite of all the gold, it doesnt look gaudy but very elegant. I would love to make a painting like this!
The Christian architecture is also beautiful but still, it feels foreign and an imposition on the beautiful mosque inside which it is built. They make much of a point that before the Mosque was built, there was a Christian structure there so they making it back into a Cathedral is not wrong. Yet it feels like a Mosque!
It takes about an hour and half for us to visit the Mezquita, we have taken the time to explore it well.. We walk all around the outside before heading to the river.
The Roman bridge is right behind the Mezquita. It doesnt look very Roman any more.
We cross the river but don’t go further than the Calahorra Tower on the other end. The Mezquita looks imposing across the Guadalaquivir River.
We then walk about an hour around the Castle walls and the Jewish quarter. That brings us to the end of our day. After a short rest, we have dinner at a very touristy place next to the Mezquita. I had a vegetarian Paella (passable) and Bapi a seafood one, we share a dessert and some wine (Eu 38). Back at our hotel, I enjoy the first good internet connection we’ve found so far and catch up with my emails before calling it a night.
The next morning we find breakfast in an overpriced café (tea, coffee and tostadas, Eu 5.50 each) then take a little walk around the city. We pass the Plaça Corredera, see some Roman ruins and a few pretty squares. Heading back to the hotel we check out and I attempt to navigate us out of the city with the map that the hosts have provided. It takes us 3 tries, going around in circles, before we finally get out! They really need to fix the GPS maps to match the city!
There is much of Cordoba that we have possibly missed but I am happy enough to have seen the Mezquita. A satisfactory visit.