Córdoba: arches, culture & patiosMay 12 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C
As an admirer of Islamic architecture and having an interest in the historical confluence / mutual influence of religions, Córdoba is a city we can not give a miss on our trip. Córdoba has such a rich and long history, my imagination goes wild just by walking through the historical centre. The most populair sight in the city is also the best example of historical, cultural and religious dynamics in this area: the Mezquita.
Civilisation in the region of Córdoba goes a long time back, when about 44.000 years ago the Neanderthals lived here. The Romans came to the city in 206 and gave Córdoba its current known name. In the eight century it was conquered by the Moors who made it the capital city of the Umayyad Caliphate. During this time the city was extremely sophisticated especially compared to the rest of Europe living their dark ages. Cordoba was world leading in education and learning, tolerant of religions, a centre of artistic expressions and was dedicated to science and philosophy. By the tenth century Cordoba was probably the largest city in the world! In this enlightened period the Moors built a giant mosque: the Mezquita. It was supposedly built on the location that was a Roman temple before, and has actual recycled Roman columns as part of its current architecture. The design and size of the mosque was a display of the sophistication that characterised the city at the time. Later, in the 12th century, the christians seized power. They kept the mosque turned it into a cathedral, eventually building a large altar and chapels inside of the existing structure. When we visit the mosque / cathedral today, this mix of influences and religions is still clearly visible. In real life we are dazzled by the actual size of the place - it’s really very large - and we happily get lost between the maze of arches and pillars. At one archway we’re admiring Arabic and Islamic decorations and at the next corner we enter a massive church altar. It’s astonishing.
After spending some hours at the Mezquita we continue to explore the rest of Córdoba. We try a bit of tapas, we visit some other historical places, and… we are lucky once more to time our visit right: we celebrate a local festival! This time the festival’s name is “Festival de los Patios”. It’s a bit funny to us to organise a whole festival around little city gardens, but it’s a big thing here since 1929(!). More than 50 houses open up their private patio to visitors and contest against each other for the honour of having the most beautiful flowers and arrangements in that year (and a cheque of €1000, an amount that is probably more of a reimbursement of costs). Before and after siesta the streets fill up with long queues of people waiting to take a look at the patios, and vote if they want to. We can not ignore this curious festival and join the queue for a handful of patios ourselves. During the wait entertainment is provided by a group making Flamenco music, singing and dancing through the streets. It must be a famous song they sing because the crowds around us chip in too: suddenly the whole street is singing together! (See video)
The patios we visit (we select the queue we join by looking at the number of plaques next to the entree, indicating previously won prizes) are indeed very lovely. The flowers bloom exuberant in all kinds of shapes and colours, and patio owners have paid a lot of attention to detail in their arrangements and decorations. Overall it’s the entire vibe of locals catching up with their neighbours while waiting to enter a patio, the house owners proudly showing off their hard work, and the festive music and dance that makes it an adorable scene to be part of.
We end the day with some more delicious Spanish tapas, then picking up our van and taking a dive into the campsite’s swimming pool to cool off. It’s been a five-star day - again.Read more