Today, we toured the city of Cordoba, Spain. It was a super special day because our friends the Kavanaughs came all the way from California (after they went to Italy) to see us which was awesome!
We began by walking through the old city and learning a bit of history from our guide, Juan.
A long time ago, Cordoba was a very rich outpost of the Roman Empire during the 1st century BC and then for several centuries. It still has Roman ruins and Roman influence in the city.
During the tenth century, Cordoba was the capital of Andelues, when it was the capital of a Moorish empire and one of the largest cities in the world. The Moor leaders came through Africa, from their home in Damascus, Syria. At the time, Cordoba housed 1,000,000 people, which is 700,000 more than the modern population of 300,000. When Spain and many other countries were ruled by the Andelues Empire, the religion was Islamic or Muslim. There was, and still is, a huge Mosque in the city, but now it has turned into a Christian church. The Mosque or Church can fit 20,000 people inside of it. It was turned into a church after the “reconquista” or reconquest by Christians when they took over and turned it into Christianity. To this day, Roman Catholic Christianity is still the dominant religion in Spain. Before the reconquista, there were three religions that all ruled their own sections of the city. The religions were: Christianity, Muslim and Judaism. Between the ninth and tenth century, the three religions lived in peace for 150 years. I know you’re all wondering, what happened after the 150 years of peace, well here it is. There was political instability, and each of the religions all rushed to grab land and power, but this led to fighting and eventually the Christians took over. That is how and why there is Christianity nowadays. On June 29, 1236, the Muslims still owned the Mosque, on June 30, 1236, the Mosque was converted into a Church. By 1492, the Moors were finally expelled from Spain totally.
One fun fact about Cordoba is that 20% of the olive oil in the world is produced in the area around Cordoba, Spain. Also, the unemployment rate is 25%, which means one out of every four people doesn’t have a job. It is a bad economy in Spain and people are not happy with the government.
We drove to the middle of Cordoba where we saw a statue of a man on a horse. The body of the man and the whole horse looked really old, but the head of the man looked relatively new. We learned that the statue is, I mean was, of the man who owned the land where our hotel was. The statue was supposed to be of him, but whenever the next successor took over, they just kept replacing the head of the statue instead of making a new statue!
Our next stop was an area where all the buildings were at least 1,200 years old! The first place we visited was a school, which was a hospital before that time. The courtyard was a medium sized area with many palm trees and a small fountain in the middle. It was a really beautiful courtyard. Next, we went to the spot where there was a market 1,000-1,200 years ago. The market was still standing, or at least the restored version was. There were two floors, although the majority of it was outside. There were a few rooms and some shops that would’ve been open 1,000 years ago. There was also a small little Koi pond with some fish in it.
Next, because we were in what was the Jewish sector 1,000 years ago, we went to a Synagogue. The Synagogue was made of sandstone, but since sandstone is porous, there are tiny holes in it, and water gets inside of it and it disintegrates. The people in ancient Spain dealt with this by creating whitewash so all of their sandstone buildings wouldn’t disintegrate and so that the white reflects the hot sun.
Inside the Synagogue, there was a Menorah in a small area that was recessed into the wall. There were two floors of the Synagogue, one floor was the ground floor where only the men worshipped, and the other floor was overlooking the ground floor, where the women worshipped. During the time this Synagogue was open 1,000 years ago, it could fit 80-90 people at a time. The Synagogue was built in 1315 and was stopped in 1492 when Christianity took over as the dominant religion.
Next, we visited the castle of the Christian Kings. During the time of the Christians taking over or the “Reconquista,” San Fernando conquered all the Muslims and overthrew them. After doing so, San Fernando was sainted for his actions. While the Christians ruled, they needed a castle to stay in. In 1328, King Alfonso XI (11) created the Castle of the Christian Kings. The castle was also a military base for many soldiers. We walked around many of the rooms, and then walked outside to an area where there were many fountains shooting out of holes in pools of water, surrounded by trees and flowers of all colors and sizes. We walked back outside and headed to our final destination.
Lastly, we went to the Mosque. The word mosque in Spanish is mezquita. The Mosque was built in 987 and has a capacity of 20,000 people. We walked through a very large courtyard filled with stone mosaics and many trees. When we walked into the Mosque we were blown away by the massive size of it. We did one loop around the Mosque and then came to a spot where there were beautiful stained glass windows. One of the windows was much bigger than the others, and the sun was shining through this one window creating a variety of colors shining onto the ground. Since the Mosque was converted to a Church, there were many Christian aspects like statues and paintings of Jesus and Mary. The architecture was amazing, because the Moors who built it used old Roman Empire marble columns to start the construction with, then built a huge mosque that was expanded several times, and then the Christians kept the mosque and converted it into a giant cathedral so it has many different sources and types of architecture.
We had a great day touring and walking around the beautiful Spanish City of Cordoba.