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Cordoba

The journey here was pretty easy, just 161 Km and fairly empty roads. The scenery of Andalusia is pretty impressive even though visibility because of the Sahara dust clouds was pretty bad. At times you felt you could be in the scottish Highlands, at other times vast fields stretch out as far as you can see. But for almost all of the way there's a sea of olive trees, they just go on and on. That got me to thinking and googling. It turns out that Andalusia produced 1.15 million tons of olive oil last year, that's over a third of the world's total production!


Driving on empty roads is much less tiring, 161Km up the M1 in England is a different proposition to the same journey in Spain. Hardly surpsing, Spain is nearly 4 times as big as England with a similar population, and that does make driving, for me, much less of a chore.


Cordoba is a pretty amazing place, it spans a history dating back to its foundation by the Romans which you can see if you enter the city across the roman Bridge from the south. The skyline from the bridge is dominated by the Great Mosque with a cathedral built in its centre.

A bit of background about the Great Mosque of Cordoba, which is for me the main event in Cordoba. It was built after the moorish invasion in the 8th century when Cordoba became the second biggest city in Europe after Constantinople. The mosque was the second biggest in the world, only smaller than the holy mosque in mecca. In 1236 Cordoba was conquered by Ferdinand III and the mosque was converted to a cathedral, but the original building was left pretty much untouched. In the 16th century a more conventional renaissance cathedral was built in the middle of the mosque but again most of the mosque was left as it was.


Cordoba mosque and cathedral is breathtaking. You feel like you're walking into a building which could easily be in Istanbul. It's the collumed prayer hall really knocks your socks off, it just seems to go on forever. Impossible to photograph the vastness of it but this gives you an idea.


Then in the middle of the mosque is a full on renaissance cathedral. There can't be anything else like this in the world!


We're in Cordoba for 3 nights in an apartment just the other side of the roman Bridge. We had a walk by the river the first evening and the view is special.

The old town itself is lovely, very typically Spanish with narrow cobbled streets amongst the spectacular architecture spanning over 2,000 years. We had a good mooch around and there's plenty to see.


Day 2 we went to see the Alcazar (derived from Arabic messaging Palace/fort). The current building was built in 1328 and is interesting but not jaw dropping (which is our benchmark after the cathedral). The Alcazar gardens are however very impressive, they are beautiful and at least in part date back to the original moorish Alcazar. Here's a picture which gives you an idea.

After the Alcazar we went to the moorish baths, which is worth doing. They're not roman and not a Hammam so different, definitely worth a look at. Last but not least we went up the cathedral bell Tower (built around the original mosque minaret) the views from which make the many steps up worthwhile.


One last piece of history, which you'll notice crossing the Roman Bridge, is a huge waterwheel (Albolafia Mill). It's restored, but unfortunately not used and dates back to the 10th century when it supplied the Alcazar gardens and baths. It was dismantled (destroying the original Alcazar gardens) by Isabella 1st who didn't like the noise close to the Palace. Here it is.

The historic centre of cordoba is a problematic for cars, so we booked a parking space under the apartment block. I've never been in any car park that tight for space but we managed less a small piece of wing mirror (think I can fix with some translucent bathroom sealant when we get home 🤣).


More soon.

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