Words of the day:
- Baños: baths
- Flores: flowers
- Bocadillo: similar to a sub-style sandwich
Back tracking a couple days – we had an excursion to Córdoba the day before our fall break that was a hot, relaxing, beautiful day. The bus ride was a little under 3 hours, so I had a long day of half-sleeping against a window while listening to music (which I like). Southern Spain’s countryside is pretty like driving through Central Washington is pretty – after 5-10 min, you’ve seen all the variety you’re going to see.
We had free time when we first got to Córdoba, so we all ate our bocadillos and went to explore the city. I went with a bunch of other girls to the Museum of the Christian Kings (not THE Catholic Kings, who were Ferdinand and Isabel) that was built inside an old castle. Since we were solo, we didn’t get as much of the history behind everything in the museum as with other places, but it was still interesting to go through and see the fortress and remnants of the era. However, after seeing castles and cathedrals like Versailles and Sacre Coeur, it’s hard to be as in-awe of the simple and sensible Spanish castles. The gardens, though, were beautiful and huge, even though it was hard to be around pools of water without jumping in just for relief from the heat (it was 90* F when we were there).
After our free time, one group of students went to Hammam, the Arab Baths that have bases in Granada, Sevilla, and Córdoba while the other group went to tour the Mezquite (Mosque) of Córdoba. I was part of the group that went to Hammam first. I have never felt so pampered in my life. Arab baths have three rooms (I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll do a quick review) – a cold room, a temperate room, and a hot room. You can move through the rooms however you wish, although there is an “order” to how you should bathe. We had two hours to sit and soak in whatever rooms we wanted to, were served AMAZING tea that was perfectly sweetened, and each got a 15 minute relaxing massage with our choice of scented oil. It was nice to soak and enjoy doing nothing while being served – I admit, I felt like an Arabic Princess and I didn’t want to leave.
Unfortunately, my pampering couldn’t last forever. After Hammam, we went to the Mezquita for a guided tour. From the outside, I could tell that it was a big place, but I had no idea HOW big it actually is. We spent some time talking about the tower outside and the Catholic take-over of the Mezquita. Inside, we looked A LOT at the crazy architecture and the differences within the building as time passed while it was being built (I’ll talk more about that over the pictures). Also, we got to see the Cathedral that the Catholics built inside as a statement to the Muslim community of Córdoba that their conquest was SO thorough that they had enough power to build their place of worship INSIDE the Muslim’s place of worship. The Mezquita was amazing, but after relaxing so much in the baths, paying attention for two hours was difficult. After the tour was over, we had a little more free time so a couple other girls and I found the Calleja de Flores and wandered in and out of some shops.
Disclaimer: I am sorry my grammar has gone out the window. I find it hard to sit down and type in correct English grammar after working/talking/thinking all day in Spanish. Thank goodness I have spell check or everyone would think that I didn’t actually know English.
Córdoba, as we walked into the city.
We have a running joke about good pictures – “ILACA: The School of Beautiful Girls.” But really, this is just us enjoying our bocadillos.
One of the sealed entrances to the Mezquita.
Hey, let us in! The Fortress of the Christian Kings.
Small doorways all throughout the castle = make sure to watch your head!
View in the other direction from the top of the Fortress.
It was relaxing to sit against the cool stone.
Liz, just being cute as we go through the fortress!
One of the preserved walls of the fortress.
Roommates soaking in the beauty of the gardens!
As much as I miss fall, it is nice to have the sun everyday.
Marigolds! I was so excited to find a flower that is so common at home.
This was just an especially cool arch.
This is a photo that shows very distinctly the difference between the Muslim style and the Catholic style of construction. The arches farther away are original to the Mezquita and the arch closer is part of the cathedral, although it was built to match more of the style of the building.
The Mihrab of the Mezquita – this points toward Mecca and is the direction of prayer. All around is Arabic writing and the way the Mihrab is built is meant to magnify the voice of the prayer leader.
The ceiling of the Mihrab.
The altar – it was built to be especially grand and beautiful, again to prove how powerful the Catholic kings were.
The ceiling of the chapel.
The altar for mass in the morning – the sun was blinding from this direction during the afternoon, so the priest says mass here in the morning and mass from the other side in the afternoon.
I love the detailed ceilings.
So. Many. Arches. We learned about how not all the arches are made with the same material or designed in the same way. In this part of the Mezquita, all the arches match, but in other parts, the parts between the column and the arch are different, the material of the column is different, etc.
It’s like a forest.
After the Mezquita, Liz made a friend who showed us where the Calleja de Flores was along with some pretty plazas that were a little bit away from the main tourist areas. Also, we saw “the smallest plaza in the world” that could barely fit four people standing.
Decorations in someone’s fountain.
The Callejera de Flores!