Day 11 – Cordoba and Granada

The Tower of La Calahorra guarding the Roman bridge crossing the Guadalquivir River was built by the Muslims, then modified in 1369 by Christian King Enrique of Castile to defend Cordoba against his brother Pedro I the Cruel. The details of Spanish history go way beyond my understanding, but surely they are full of trauma and drama. The tower now houses a museum, after being used as a prison and a girls’ school.

Built around 1136 by emir Tashfin, the Almoravid governor of Córdoba, this water wheel still stands nearly a millennium later. It was called “Albolafia”, translated as “the good luck one” or “the good health one”, it served to bring water to the emir’s palace.

Our guide takes us through the mosque of Cordoba, showing us a card that depicts the changes to the structure over time. Abd al-Rahman I, founder of the Islamic Emirate of Cordoba, had the mosque constructed in 785.

The mosque was built over the site of a Viscogoth Christian church, whose scant remains may be seen in a glass panel on the floor of the enormous mosque. Later the Catholics took over the mosque and added Christian elements.

Many of the pillars are built from the remains of former structures. So, so many pillars and

so, so many arches..

With the reconquest, the Catholics filled in the exterior arches that had opened the mosque to the street. They created chapels in niches of the mosque and a cathedral in its center. Our guide describes the most prized treasure of the cathedral, this very large silver and gold tabernacle that is taken out of the cathedral in a procession each year on the day of Corpus Christi with the host in a glass container in the center of the tabernacle.

Throughout the former mosque, Christian and Muslim elements exist side by side.

The space Catholics carved out for the Cathedral sits in the middle of the former mosque.

Mass is still said here daily.

Outside we see the church tower built over a former minaret.

We next walk through the medina, where we visit a shop specializing in embossed leather.

The streets of the medina are narrow, the houses plain and simple.

But once inside, visitors come upon patios that invite with greenery and water.

Cordoba holds an annual balcony contest. These particular balconies laden with flowers won second prize last year.

Local handicrafts in fiber.

Seated on the old Roman bridge, this cyclist is looking for support for his bicycle trip around Europe on what he calls the “highway to hell.”

We head on to Granada, passing through a mountainous area.

Rows of olive trees cover the hillsides.

As we near Granada, we can’t miss the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Granadinas, the people of Granada, can ski in the morning and go the the beach in the afternoon.

In the evening, we go to a restaurant in a cave where we are entertained by flamenco dancers.

This gypsy style of flamenco doesn’t appeal to me much, but it is interesting to see for maybe fifteen minutes at most.

Tomorrow we take a walking tour of Granada.

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