Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Taste of Andalucia - Cordoba

Then we were off to Cordoba and we had the usual nightmares finding our way into the town (it is quite clear there is a cost of staying right in the heart of a pedestrianized district!). Fortunately, Nieves, our caretaker guided us to the parking area and helped us settle in. The apartment was bright and modern and ideally situated just blocks from the Mesquita mosque and archeological museum, both of which were fabulous. The archeological museum was built in a palace housing many ruins and artifacts which chronicled the periods of various ruling occupations - from the Romans, to the Visigoths to the Moors. Cordoba, in particular also had a very strong concentration of Sephardic Jews, and their influence on the city remains to this day. In the Juderia (old Jewish quarter), we toured a traditional Jewish home and attended a fabulous music workshop of traditional Jewish/Andalucian guitar music. All across Cordoba and Granada we enjoyed the strums of spanish guitars echoing from small plazas and it gave me the urge to take up the ol' six string again. If I can only figure out how to ship everything when we leave... By far the greatest highlight of Cordoba is the Mesquita - originally a Visigoth church which was razed by the Moors to build a spectacular mosque which is defined by a seemingly endless "forest" of delicate arches of red and white stone, superimposed on two levels. Sadly, after the Christian reconquest of Spain, the architect Hernan Ruiz set out to build an imposing cathedral right in the center of the Mesquita and its cold baroque/renaissance style could not provide a harsher contrast to the delicate, open and contemplative nature of the mosque itself. The shocking juxtaposition of these two extreme styles presents a fascinating and memorable reminder of the vast cultural contrasts between these ruling parties which had such an influence on Spanish history. As we toured the city, with its beautiful courtyards, fascinating history and architecture, gurgling fountains, lush hanging potted plants and pedestrian streets, I felt very welcome and could us living here should we decide to stay another year. In many respects, Cordoba has come the closest of any Spanish city to my original "vision" for living in Spain. Who knows? Perhaps we will come back again soon!

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