Cordoba, Spain and the Olive Country

Granada had a wonderful mixed ambiance of the old and the new which is very inviting, but after two days, it was time to move on to Cordoba for a very brief single-day stop. There would be no overnight stay, just a quick day of touring.


Olive orchards on the way to Cordoba
picture snapped through our speeding bus window

On the way, we traveled through Spain’s premier olive-growing region of Andalusia and of course we made a requisite stop at one of the local olive mills. There were plenty of products for sale and we acquired several tins of the famed olive oil as well as some decorative bottle stoppers.

The grounds had interesting artifacts. Whether they were originals or not, I had no way of knowing, but they were engaging just the same. The picture below is of a large urn for storing part of the season’s olive oil bounty. The metal wheels would most likely be parts of the grinding machinery used to crush the olives.


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This is a view of the beautiful plantings. Notice the urn in the distance.


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After our brief stop, we boarded the bus and arrived in Cordoba. We had a brief lunch and then enjoyed a walk through the historic part of the city which is a delight for anyone who enjoys the beautiful contrast of solid colored building facades (mostly white) generously punctuated with colorful flower-filled pots and planters.


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We also spent time wandering through city’s historic Jewish Quarter. Casa Pepe de la Juderia is one of the well-known restaurants in this part of town.


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Markers were embedded among the paving stones to differentiate the Jewish Quarter streets.


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Towering over the center of Cordoba, and visible from many streets, are the towers of the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba) which is perhaps the main draw for many tourists and adventurers. The structure is referred to as both a mosque and a cathedral because of its complex history.


he Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba
The Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba

The Torre del Alminar (Minaret Tower) has been converted to the Bell Tower with steps leading to the top for impressive views of Cordoba.

Even before entering the building, an examination of the beautiful exterior details revealed the uniqueness and the age of this Mosque. The nine entrances are referred to as gates; each with a distinct name. I believe this is the Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto.


Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto

Our group began the tour by gathering in the main courtyard.


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The Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba – Which has a unique combination of Christian and Moorish architecture and religious cultures. The original structure had, for a time, dual occupancy with different sections being used by the Visigoth Christians and the Muslims, but was later destroyed to make way for a grand Mosque (Mezquita) constructed over a period of more than 200 years.

In the 13th century, the building was taken over by the Christians and converted into a church. **

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There is a huge columnar prayer hall that is astonishingly beautiful because of the colors and the manner in which the light plays off the surrounding walls, ceilings and floors.


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There are reportedly an excess of 800 columns supporting the structure.


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The picture below is particularly interesting because of the golden hue, the ornate carving and the hanging lights.


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The focal point in the prayer hall is the unusual horse-shoe arched prayer niche or mihrab beautifully painted with exquisite detail. Gold-backed glass was used in the construction and provides some of the striking contrast.**


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Wherever one looked, there was magnificence on display. The intricate arches were stunning.


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When the Christian rulers gained control of the structure, they took to the task of constructing the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption inside the mosque. This is the High Altar of the main chapel.


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Not to be outdone by all of the detailed artwork of the mosque, the chapel dome is also very ornate…


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As is this nearby ceiling…


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There is a Museum in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption where this gold and green artifact is on display.


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After our visit to the Mosque/Cathedral, we returned to the quaint streets of Cordoba with the mosque peering through the narrow skyscapes.


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Cordoba is also known for its courtyards and during May, there is a courtyard festival:

Every year in May, the city of Cordoba in Andalusia celebrates its famous Courtyards Festival, a tradition which was declared a part of our Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO in 2012 and during which many of the courtyards or “patios” in the historic quarter are open to visitors for a few days. The festival is a competition to discover the most beautiful courtyards in the city, and fills the streets with colour, the scent of jasmine and orange blossom and the strains of flamenco.**

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While this was not part of the festival when we were in town, it was an interesting, colorful courtyard that we were able to admire.


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There was time for one last stop before we headed for the train station and I wanted to see the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) and the Roman Arch Gate which is within easy walking distance of the Mosque.


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The afternoon shadows were growing long so we made our way to the train station in Cordoba to take the two-hour (+/-) ride to Madrid.

Members of our group served to create a Norman Rockwell moment.


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The bullet train was very sleek and fast! Next Stop Madrid!


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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Cathedral of Saint Mary

Perhaps the premier tourist destination in Seville is The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Seville Cathedral). The construction of this edifice lasted more than a hundred years with the intention of creating a cathedral that was magnificent beyond the imagination of the day and in that they succeeded.


Exterior of the Cathedral of Seville

Like most old landmarks, there is usually some construction or renovation being conducted at any given time. We can only be hopeful that it is nothing major when we arrive.


Renovation work at the Cathedral

The Cathedral with its famed bell tower (The Giralda – pictured below) can be seen from many viewpoints near the central area of the city.


The famed Giralda, Bell Tower

There are a number of entrances to the Cathedral. We accessed the edifice through a side entrance referred to as the Door of Forgiveness.


Door of Forgiveness entrance

This basilica is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest church overall. The ceilings were beautiful works of art and vaulted to more than 130 feet. Standing there looking upward, one can only wonder how they managed to create the detail and elegance on display.


Detailed architectural ceilings

Visitors will almost assuredly feel overwhelmed by the size of this structure. The picture below is of one of the side hallways and juxtaposes the very old holy building with the contemporary well-lit signs pointing visitors to some of the highlights.


Side hallway

I think it would be difficult to observe and appreciate everything there is to see in one visit. There were many people milling around and it is difficult to take photographs without the heads of the visitors seeming to adorn the bottom of the frame. We decided to focus on the highlights.

One of the beautiful altars in the Cathedral is the Altare dell’Argento or Silver Altar (of the Virgin Mary).


Silver Altar of the Virgin Mary

Another altar that was magnificent because of the ornate wood carvings, statue-filled niches and gilding was the The chapel of the Virgin of Antigua. During the period that the Cathedral was being constructed, architects tried to fill every space possible and the “fear of the void” is well demonstrated here.


Chapel of the Virgin of Antigua

The massive mahogany organ is another feature that is breathtaking in both size and exquisite detail. It would stand singularly as a work of art had it not contained the musical pipes and workings of the organ. The original organs were lost during the 1888 earthquake and subsequently replaced in 1901-03 which, in turn, have also been subsequently updated.


Mahogany organ at the cathedral

Read more about the organ HERE

Perhaps one of the most visited and coveted sights in the Cathedral is the Tomb of Christopher Columbus installed in 1899. The body of this noble explorer has taken several trips across the seas being held in Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) and Cuba before being brought to Seville.

The tomb is a work of art with statues of four kings, each representing the kingdoms of Spain during the time Columbus was alive, hoisting high his bodily remains.


Tomb of Christopher Columbus


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Apparently there is a dispute between where the real remains call home today. You can read about the mystery HERE

As you can see this is one of the more popular attractions within the Cathedral.


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Before leaving the Cathedral, a climb to the top of the Bell Tower, accessed via a series of ramps, was warranted.


Bells of the Giralda

Traffic can be heavy going up and down. Adventurers will be rewarded with some excellent views of the city despite the heavily fortified vantage points. The crowds can be somewhat daunting and pushy as eager tourists jockey for the best views.


Vista of Seville from the Giralda


Vista of Seville from the Giralda

Do stop along the way to look out of the various windows and viewing nooks. Glimpses of the architecture and Cathedral structure are captivating.


Cathedral architecture from one of the ramp niches





Before we left the premises, we strolled through the courtyard where some children were enjoying the atmosphere as they sketched the scene before them.


Young boy drawing in the courtyard

You can find out more quick facts about the Cathedral HERE

Here is one more look at the exterior of the Cathedral of Seville.


Last street side view of the Cathedral

On our way back to the hotel, we enjoyed this beautiful circular garden which had street performers entertaining onlookers nearby.


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Next, we will say farewell to Seville with one last look around town.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com