Córdoba is the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was conquered by Muslim armies in the eighth century, and then became the capital of the Islamic Emirate. Caliph Al Hakam II opened many libraries in addition to the many medical schools and universities which existed at the time, making Córdoba a center for education. During these centuries, Córdoba became a predominantly Muslim society with minorities living in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbours. It returned to Christian rule in 1236 during the Reconquista.
We got to visit a one of a kind building — the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba (first 13 pictures). The structure is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture. The site was originally a small temple of Christian Visigoth origin, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins. When Muslims conquered Spain in 711, the church was first divided into Muslim and Christian halves. This sharing arrangement of the site lasted until 784, when the Christian half was purchased by the Emir ‘Abd al-Rahman I, who then proceeded to demolish the original structure and build the grand mosque of Córdoba on its ground. Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236, and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the mosque. It was really amazing and we are very glad that the Christians did not destroy the mosque because it is beautiful. The guide told us that we could see over 1,000 years of history in one place. The mosque was built in three stages from the 8th to the 10th centuries, each section getting more and more elaborate. The cathedral was built in the 16th century.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple which had occupied the site previously, as well as other destroyed Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were a new introduction to architecture, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch. The famous alternating red and white voussoirs of the arches were inspired by those in the Dome of the Rock and also resemble those of the Aachen Cathedral, which was built almost at the same time.
Bill hit a home run with his choice of a lunch restaurant. We had tapas in a charming patio area. The food was absolutely delicious. We tried a couple of the regional dishes – salmorejo (a thick gazpacho with ham and eggs) and fried eggplant with honey which were outstanding. We also had about 8 other tapas that were wonderful. Leslie and Linda had time to shop. Lots of looking at pretty things, but no purchases were made.
On the way to the bus we stopped by the Roman bridge that was the former entrance to the city (last 4 pictures). Another 2,000 year old bridge that is still standing. These Roman architects and builders evidently knew what they were doing.