|one of the 19 doors of the Mezquita|
For our summer holidays, we decided to continue with the Spanish theme which started back in June in Madrid. This time around we went south to explore Andalusia and what better way than to start with Cordoba.
Cordoba, (along with Granada, but this is a subject for another post), has always seemed to me to be a place of myth and legend, not to mention history. During Roman times, Cordoba ruled the Andalucian province and its wealth was legendary. Little surprise then that the Muslim invaders chose to invade Cordoba in 711. From then until the 11th century, Cordoba was the capital city of Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula. At its peak in the 10th century, Cordoba was famed for the peaceful and harmonious co-existence of three religions--Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It had the best universities, libraries and mosques, the most dazzling of which is the Mezquita.
Here one enters into a magical place, a forest, if you will, of pillars topped by red and white arches. A forest but one filled with space and lightness. And while I am one of the hundreds of visitors traipsing through its halls, it doesn't take away the feeling of being somewhere hallowed. Everywhere I turn I see a different play of light among the pillars and the effect can be overwhelming. But imagine how luminous it must have been when all of its 19 doors used to be open.
Emir Abd ar-Rahman founded the Mezquita in 785 on the grounds of a Visigothic church but his successors extended the Mezquita until it stood as one of the biggest mosques of its time. Imagine it used to have 1293 columns, of which 856 remain today. The mihrab or the prayer niche indicate the direction of the Mecca and its wall is gorgeously and richly decorated with "1600 kg of gold mosaic cubes".
|The mihrab portal|
|The retablo is composed of jasper and marble|
|Here one can see the juxtaposition of the church on the mosque|
|One of the halls|