Art speaks where
words are unable
Cordoba had been on my must go to, list for a couple of years. My love for History commands it, because here in one place, were the artistic and cultural remnants of the Romans, the Visigoths, The Moors, Jews and finally the Christians. What is it about a place where cultures are able to collide, and yet humanity can exist in harmony? The respect of creation maybe. Travelling makes you think, as I always say.
It just had to be the next on my list. I booked an Airbnb in the Historic centre and in a Medieval house.
The Romans built a bridge. across the Guadalquivir river, where Cordoba sits proud on the banks. This is the river of Seville and the only navigable river in Spain. Claudius Marcellus, a Roman General, founded the city in the middle of the 2nd century BC. The city grew and today Roman occupation can be seen in the ruins of the city wall and the remains of the temple.
The city was to become of great importance for Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar making it one of the most important bastions of Roman Rule during the late republic and Imperial Eras.
As much as I love the Romans it was always the Moorish art that fascinated me the most. I sensed the Romans as the emulators of Greek art and design
You can tell a lot, about the people of a city from their Taxi drivers. Although mine got lost during my simple 6 euro ride, he apologetically paused the meter and instead gave me a guided tour of part of the historical district, fiddling with google maps before resorting to the old fashioned way by pulling over to look at his own paper version, This was a good start.
My accommodation was not ready anyhow, but I thought he deserved a good tip. I found a little tapas bar and ordered some coffee with some cheese on the side. Oh well I am in a holiday mood and feeling grateful for being here at last.
My journey down had been uneventful. Two train rides from Alicante, Change in Albecete. All easy peasy. Making sure I stayed Covid conscious there were still only about 6 people in my train carriage. When I booked it the internet flashed up only three seats left. It was lying again but I was happy and enjoyed a comfortable trip.
My tapas bar glowed eerily in warm candlelight, wooden tables set with white serviettes, Hams hung up over the bar and a smell of something smoky wafted through, an ambience of Spain. It feels so Spanish I thought stupidly, Ah but I am in Andalus, the home of Moorish castles and flamenco and Oh god, Not the Spanish Inquisition,
My Medieval house was through the big wooden door where you led to wonder what mystery was on the other side. I am sure these stone walls had a few tales to tell. In the dark entrance
My German host insisted I used the hand cleanser provided, “And ver your mask at all times. It is now in ze rules of ze house…. endorsed by Air BNB” Yes I get it. I have not arrived from outa space” The constant reminders of Covid rules have been starting to grate on me lately.
My room was comfortable and a tad quirky for a room in a medieval house. I started to re-decorate it in my head, I have decorated in medieval style before and love mixing with a Moorish theme. The high ceilings and exposed timbers warrant an iron chandelier, I could imagine muslin drapes and tasseled cushions hanging over the back of my bed Somehow the stencilled butterfly and daisies with lime green stalks painted on the wall, by the present owner, did not seem fitting.
My host kindly told me if I visited the Mezquita (Cordoba Cathedral) between 8am and 9.am I could enter for free. With all good intention, I did watch the sun come up and daylight, stream through my little room at the top of this house, but I decided to go later and have a decent breakfast. The entrance fee was only 11Euros and I already knew that every penny spent, was going to be worth it.
I had already seen the pictures of the many arches, and been inspired to come here, however, sensing the enormity of this majestic place and how it makes you feel is incredibly difficult to describe. This is architectural brilliance combined with wonder and spirituality, In fact, it is more than that,
Show respect for cultures, let them weave and intertwine within one space of time, to show humanity how it can work together and how to create as one.
I wondered slowly thinking about this, as I took my time to take it all in, which to be honest, is an impossibility. I struggle to understand how I feel or how I am supposed to feel. There is a lot of God and glory but the bloodshed runs down the walls and into the earth, Christian art is not meant to be joyful. All the faces in the portraits and biblical scenes look up to heaven and down to earth. with pained sorrow and helplessness. As I left the building I’m feeling a little sad. Is this how I am supposed to feel? I needed a strong coffee and it had started to rain.
They say in the history books, that the Moors, Jewish and Christian religions lived and worked, relatively peaceful amongst each other for quite sometime. Then in 1236 Christian forces took over. Jewish and Moorish populations were expelled and King Ferdinand 111 moved in to Cordoba. However, respectful of the architecture, it was thankfully allowed to remain, so, in later years we can be reminded that whatever religion or faith or neither we choose to believe, through art and beauty, we can be free and live side by side in harmony.
Due to Covid the streets were not crowded with tourists. For me it was a delight to wonder through the little streets, peeking through half open wooden doors, displaying the ancient courtyards, Cordoba is famous for. My short visit leaves me with the decision that I will be coming back here. There are a lot more places worthy of a visit. The Alcazar and the Caliphal baths being top of my list.
Love to hear from you if you have been already, Please leave a comment.