Naomi Stone enjoys traveling near and far and spending time with family and friends. She received a degree in journalism from the York College and covers topics from marking, traveling, ecology and everything in between
Published February 25th 2020
The eternal question for tourists considering Spain seems this; the north or south? North to the lush La Rioja wine country, San Sebastian and the Basque Coast, Galicia's St. James' Cathedral –– or south to imbibe Moorish culture in Andalucía's Golden Triangle (Seville, Cordoba and Granada).
We headed south; the pull of rich, Arabic-influenced architecture and culture was irresistible.
After a short overnight in Toledo, an hour south of Madrid, we took the train to Cordoba for a two-night stay. Eighth century Islamic armies conquered the region, along with most of the Iberian Peninsula, leaving behind magnificence even after the Christian Reconquista in 1492.
Reserve a half-day for The Great Mosque of Cordoba, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Mezquita was originally divided into Christian and Muslim halves in the early sixth century, but now an incongruous baroque cathedral sits in the middle of the site, wreathed by 10th century Arabic elegance. Before entering, be sure to study the mosque's exterior doorways: a study in Moorish geometry and style.
Nearly one thousand Roman columns with decorated capitals seem to stretch to eternity in the low-ceiling mosque. Gold, silver, brass, copper, ivory and jasper are used in decorations throughout. Double arches predominate here. The mihrab, or prayer niche, is highly gilded and strewn with plant designs.
The central, Renaissance-style Cathedral of Cordoba that sits in the middle of the ancient mosque was constructed beginning in 1523. Additions were later added, such as the great altar (17th century) and the ornate wood and marble pulpits (18th century). The choir, created by Seville's Pedro Duque Cornejo, was also a later addition.
Daily mass is yet held in the cathedral, and some tourists viewing the Mezquita attend, enjoying the experience of both the cathedral's exuberance and the quiet elegance of the mosque that surrounds them.
Spain boats a network of 94 Paradors, which are hotels located within restored, historical buildings. They include palaces, convents, monasteries, and medieval castles. Cordoba's Parador is an excellent choice for accommodation.
The hillside Parador is located on the ruins of the summer palace of Abd-ar-Rahman I. The panoramic views over the legendary city of the caliphs are stunning. The Mezquita is a ten-minute taxi drive from the hotel.