Our first destination in Spain was Cordoba, an ancient city in the South of Spain. We stayed in a small hotel called Hotel Selu. On one side of the hotel was a maze of small twisting streets; on the other side was a wide shopping area with lots of American stores. Our days there were spent learning the history of the Iberian empires, wandering around the city, and catching up on sleep.
Our primary historical visit was to the Mosque of Cordoba, which is the only remaining medieval mosque in Europe. The architecture is impressive, with rows and rows of horseshoe arches and walls of intricate tiles and carvings. If you look down the rows of arches on a diagonal, the pillars start to look like palm trees – an oasis within the mosque.
In the middle of the mosque is a cathedral, built in the 16th Century after the Christian reconquest. The cathedral is impressive, and the ornate Christian decorations, full of gold and painted figures, stands out starkly against the Muslim architecture.
We also walked through the Jewish quarter to the medieval synagogue. The Jewish quarter is beautiful, with whitewashed buildings and blue trimming.
The synagogue is inconspicuous; I would never have known it was there if I weren’t led to it. Inside, it’s interesting to note how much the decoration resembles the Muslim style. Both buildings are adorned with plaster and marble carvings of prayers and natural imagery, and both also have similar lobed arches. Yet the synagogue is limited to a single small room whereas the mosque is large and sprawling.
I also got my first real tapas for lunch on the second day of our trip. We had croquetas (delicious fried balls of meat and cheese) a sauteed zucchini dish, juevos rotos (fried potatoes with ham, chicken, and eggs), a chicken salad something, and some egg stew to be spread on bread. I tried everything though I didn’t know what all of it was. Luckily there was someone who knew more Spanish sitting at my table, and she helped me decipher the menu. The outdoor dining made the whole experience so much better!
After two nights in Cordoba, we packed up the bus again and drove south west toward Granada!