Hey sorry I haven’t updated in over 2 weeks… it’s been kind of crazy! I realize I still have to cover Cordoba and Madrid. However I’m only going to talk about Cordoba in this post because I am leaving for Morocco in approximately 3 hours so I won’t have time for that (plus Madrid was a 5 day trip, this entry would become incredibly long). I will definitely try to cover Madrid Sunday night when I get back from Morocco! (I’m only going to be traveling around norther Morocco in Tangers, Tetouan, and Chef Chaouen).
Ok Cordoba was October 26th, two weeks ago. It was only a day trip, but we had to leave ridiculously early! I remember I had to get up and be out of the house by 7 AM because we had to be at our rendez-vous point at 7:30. The sun hadn’t even risen by that point, it was still pitch black with stars and the moon in the sky! However we’re kind of back to normal with Daylight Savings Times so the sun rises before 8 AM now!
I don’t really remember how long the trip took, but the first stop we visited were the remains of this fortified city called Medina Azahara which is located a few miles outside of Cordoba’s city center. All the following facts that follows are courtesy of wikipedia because there is no way I would have remembered all this: Well I do remember that the city is in constant excavation. It’s pretty big and yet there is still plenty of ruins lying untouched under the dirt. The city enjoyed an existence of about 80 years under a Muslim ruler in the 10th century. Popular legend has it that the king (Abd ar-Rahman III) named the city after his favorite concubine/built the city for the woman he loved, but nobody knows if this is actually true. The city ended up being abandoned and a lot of the decorative artwork on the walls were ripped down/broken into several pieces. Nobody really knows the reason for this either. It was impressive to see how ar the ancient city stretched, with all the archs and pillars that have obviously been restored. There was one part that had been restored that you literally had to walk inside through some modern glass doors, it was obvious the restoration here had been done with great care. Again I got to actually see the stuff we talked about in my Spanish Art History class (we covered part of Spanish Arabic art) which was nice.
Obviously the jewel of the trip was the mosque in Cordoba. I have actually been there before, but I didn’t remember much and I didn’t have a digital camera back then either. Commonly called La Mezquita in Spanish, the building is now actually used for Roman Catholic services and has a lot of churchy architecture that’s been added to it over the years. The mezquita itself went through about 4 periods of renovations before it ended up as a cross between Muslim architecture/Baroque architecture. I’m really not exaggerating when I say it’s an architectural wonder and the fact that it definitely looks like a mosque but isn’t used for Muslim services anymore is definitely bizarre! You can tell the mezquita is huge even before you enter just by walking alongside the street to get to one of the several entrances that let you into the courtyard. You don’t have to pay to get into the courtyard, but you do have to pay to get into the mezquita.
We had studied the mezquita in our art class so when we finally got see “la sala de las oraciones” (the prayer room) with all the archs, it was nice to see it was beautiful in person (we only got black and white photos in class, not much help). We had a tour guide so we walked around the mezquita as he explained this and that (he was one of the more fun tour guides we had, waving his hand in the air as he called out in English “My family! Over here!”). I took plenty of pictures, though I was disappointed I did not get to enter el mihrab. El mihrab is the most sacred place in a mezquita and apparently the ceiling and walls of the Cordoba mezquita are amazing. However I guess people don’t know how to respect old architecture, because it’s been blocked off so you can’t even get really near the entrance anymore. A lot of the mezquita is under construction, and there were different displays of historical objects though I can’t remember why exactly they were important.
There was also someone getting married that day, I saw the bride along with the groom at one point and I wondered how much you have to pay to get married in one of the most famous religious buildings in the world!
After the mezquita, we briefly visited the inside of a synagogue and I was kind of confused as to whether it is still used today. It was very small, more like a rectangular room. The only way I could have known it had any Jewish influence whatsoever was indicated by the menorah standing in a corner. I’ve never been in a synagogue but I have a feeling what I saw wasn’t actually one! Maybe an ancient one… but not a modern one!
The rest of the day we just wandered around as usual with some of us buying souvenirs in some of the stores. I admit that I indulged a little, only because I haven’t really bought anything in the touristy shops unless you count some postcards. As to be expected, we ended up at an outdoor cafe and drank some wine (it was late afternoon, spare me). I did notice Cordoba has some fortified walls running around the city center and I think there’s some sort of Alcazar you can visit, but we didn’t bother with any of that. We usually cover the touristy hot spots as a group anyways.
And that was pretty much Cordoba from what I remember… especially the ungodly hour we had to get up at (that also happened with leaving for Madrid as well). I haven’t really done anything special in Malaga besides going to class and going home. Our tutorial group did meet up one night and ended up drinking at El Pimpi because we had planned to listen to some flamenco music later that night. I did listen to some, but not for very long. My tutorial group also went to go watch a Spanish movie called “Camino” (girl who has cancer and going to die and her family needs to come to terms with it) but I opted not to go only because we were going to get back ridiculously late on the nocturnal bus and I had homework to do (we did have classes the next day).
So that’s all I have for now… I will definitely get around to covering Madrid (and Morocco!) soon!