Knowing that we had a 2 1/2 hr drive to Córdoba, we tumbled out of bed at 4.30 am (just like old times!) and left at a 6 am. Once the sun was up and we could see around us, we were entranced with the beautiful countryside. Very different from what we had seen so far; there were low hills covered with olive groves. Neatly plowed fields. Spain after all is the “bread basket” of Europe. Everywhere we went, there was hectares of green houses.
Since we were so early, it was easy to find a free parking spot and one could see the Mesquita‘s Dome from just about anywhere in the city. So we headed in that direction.
The outer walls gave us an idea of just what a unique place this was.
The ticket office opened at 9 am and we arrived in the courtyard at about 8.45 am. We were one of the first people in line!
The orange grove in the courtyard was planted to represent the “Forest of columns” inside the Mesquita, and in the above photo you can see the Cathedral rising above the roof of the mosque.
In the 1600s this bell tower was built to replace a minaret which had stood in this spot.
Once the doors opened, we found ourselves in a very dark area. Wafting over us came the echoes of the end of morning mass, with the organ playing and the chants of the priests and choir. It was a very unique experience to be standing in what was a mosque, listening to a Christian service!
As we were some of the first people inside, we were privileged to explore without the hoards of people – which arrived soon afterwards! As the sun rose higher in the sky, certain areas became filled with sunlight.
It was such a visual feast that I found it a little overwhelming! The columns were varying shades of marble and the arches would go from brightly coloured cream and red to plain grey, which would morph into a Christian arch. All very fascinating and ethereal.
And then one goes from the relative simplicity of the Islamic architecture to the totally different, more familiar architecture and grandeur of the Cathedral………..
A Cathedral within a Mosque indeed!
It was rather hard to get a picture of the Mihrab (the area which faces Mecca and where the faithful would come to pray) as there were so many people around it. The green, gold and blue tones were just gorgeous.
With all shapes and sizes of heads in the way, I had to settle with taking several pictures of it rather than all in one.
And so eventually we tore ourselves away. If we had planned it better, we would have stayed in Córdoba for several days because there was more of the city we would have liked to see.
It was time to for a bite to eat. This delightful little tapas bar was on the way back to our car.
Braised lettuce with an olive & pepper sauce and fried aubergine with a honey glaze. Scrumptious!
We had arranged to meet up with Immi & Bertil on the way back. Years earlier they had stumbled on an old farmhouse with a wonderful restaurant.
After enjoying some more wonderful food, Bertil took us back through some beautiful countryside.
We are following them. In the distance, olive groves!
The water in this dam gets it’s colour from the limestone rocks.
Of course we also some old, rundown farm houses, but in this light, they almost look romantic!
The same gorgeous clouds that had followed us all afternoon, were also hovering over Frigiliana as we returned home. But they parted just long enough to illuminate the village!
Next stop – Granada and Alhambra!