We arrived, without incident, at an aire just outside Córdoba late afternoon on Monday 5th October 2016. Our friends, Di and Chris, were meeting us there which we were really looking forward to as we had not seen them for six months. The aire was just a carpark really but it was on the edge of a very nice park and had some much needed shade. At €11 per night and a five minute stroll into the historic part of Córdoba we thought it was excellent. We left our exploring until the next day and spent the Monday evening catching up with our friends over a beer or two. They had brought with them our new camera, a wifi boost and some more 3 data cards which we’d ordered and had sent to their address in the UK. It felt a bit like Christmas! The camera couldn’t have come at a better time as the other one has become very tedious with smudges and black dots coming out on most of the pictures (I vet them for them blog!). Muchas gracias to them for coming all this way to pass them on. On Tuesday we all had a stroll into the old town to start our explorations.
Córdoba was once the largest city of Roman Spain and for three centuries it formed the heart of the western Islamic empire, the great medieval caliphate of the Moors.
Córdoba’s main monument, and a must see, is the Mezquita, the grandest and most beautiful mosque ever built by the Moors in Spain. Oh boy, was it grand! I don’t think if you visited everyday for a year you would have the time to appreciate every detail. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
It is huge and absolutely stunning. Originally intended to be a church it came under the rule of Abd-ar-Rahman III in the 10th Century and was used as a mosque and extended to become the second largest mosque in the world. However, once the Spanish reclaimed the site from the Muslims it was converted from a mosque to a church.
The whole monumental site of the mosque was first consecrated as the cathedral of Santa Maria in the year of 1146 and definitively in 1236. Since then a Holy Mass for the Christian community has been held every day.
We had a wander around the narrow, tight, winding lanes of the Jewish quarter before walking over the bridge for a view back towards the Mesquita and the watermills which were once used to grind flour and olives.
We had a stroll round in the evening when it was extremely quiet and wandered further away from the more popular areas.
We rounded our evening off with a few beers at a bar soaking up the atmosphere at the Plaza de la Corredera, once used for horse races, bullfights and Inquisition burnings!
We said goodbye to Di and Chris and left the aire on Wednesday 7th October 2016 to do some shopping and then went to have a look at the rambling ruins of Medina Azahara, a palace complex built on a grand scale by Caliph Abd ar-Rahaman III, 7km outside Córdoba.
The site was almost 2km long by 900m wide and took 10,000 workers and 1500 mules and camels to build over the Caliphs reign from 936 until his death in 961. Unfortunately, Medina Azahara lasted less than a century before a popular revolt broke out and the caliphate disintegrated into civil war.
Medina Azahara was looted and in 1010 plundered and burned by retreating Berber mercenaries. Oh dear! In 1944 excavations unearthed remains of the palace and the site has been painstakingly reconstructed since then.
We loved Córdoba and would definitely recommend a visit there but we can only cope with culture for a couple of days so it was time again to move on. We stopped for the night at Almodóvar before moving further towards Seville.
We’ve spent the last 24 hours at a free aire at Plama del Rio. I’ve been catching up on the blog and Tim has been spending time downloading some more free maps and aires for Spain and Portugal. We are using our Wifi boost to pick up the wifi from the cafe a short distance away and it’s working really well. Tomorrow we may do Seville or we may get waylayed along the way. Tomorrow is another day!