If this is the first time you’re encountering PiSS, I’d recommend starting here.
We got an early start the following day – around 9am – and set out for Cordoba.
Cordoba: Lighting the fire
Our first stop was the Medina Azahara, a few kilometers outside Cordoba.
[TOURIST TIP] If you’re driving to the Medina and you’re using a GPS provider like Google Maps or Waze, don’t follow it until the end. When you encounter a big parking lot with the sign Medina Azahara / Madinat al-Zahra, park there. Go into the museum adjacent to it, purchase your tickets, and ride a bus from there to the entrance at the top of a hill. Be prepared to climb your way back up through a lengthy set of stairs on your way out.
The Medina Azahara is a ruined Moorish city, whose downfall (oddly enough) had nothing to do with Christians, at least according to Wikipedia. Of this once glorious place, only a few arches remain intact amidst the paving stones and ruined foundations. We naturally took some photos.
It’s quite bright outside.
The wife knows Kage Bunshin no Jutsu
It was only a short ride from the Medina to Cordoba. We parked outside the main tourist area and just walked. To enter the city proper, you had to pass through a Roman bridge.
Talk about a scenic route.
After a quick stop at the tourist information center, Bro was able to make a route for us to visit a number of notable places. The first was a leather crafting museum / store where cordovan leather artworks were displayed. I don’t have any pictures because taking photos and videos were prohibited inside the premises.
Next we went to a Jewish Synagogue. I thought it would be a grand place, like the various palaces in the Alhambra, or even the many Churches in the Philippines. In reality, it’s just a small, simple room. Smaller than some of the rooms in the Alhambra. Its size did not detract from the solemnity I felt inside, though. I don’t have any pictures because I forgot to take some.
We ate lunch shortly after, and I once again had tinto de verano to drink. Big mistake. I was already fighting off some sleepiness because of our early start. The alcohol made the fight a lot tougher, resulting in a slight headache – and we were not even half-way done with our day.
We visited the Cordoba Cathedral after lunch. This is the first church in a long list of churches we’d be visiting over the course of this trip. My head was pounding by this time, so I handed my phone to my wife, who took over the photo-taking duties. Take a look.
These arches look so familiar. Turns out, I’ve seen them before – and you have too. They’re quite similar to the arches in the Medina, and in the Alhambra. But those are Moorish structures, Muslim structures and designs. What are they doing in a Catholic cathedral?
As it turns out, this cathedral was once a mosque. It’s actually called the Mezquita. During the Christian “reconquest”, it was captured and turned into a Christian church. Bro told me some people are also campaigning to remove the “Mezquita” name and just replace it with the Cordoba Cathedral.
Seriously? How un-Christian can you get? You invade some lands you claim were yours several generations ago, push out the original inhabitants because of their religion, but you want to keep their pretty buildings and claim them as your own? I know I’m The Inappropriator but this kind of appropriation does not sit well with me. The Moors were wonderful designers and builders, and they deserve every bit of credit for this building. This only ended up as a Catholic church because the Christian monarchs were better at warfare during that time.
This isn’t the only mosque that was turned into a church. Turns out it was standard practice back then to use mosques as churches in the effort to “Christianize” Spain. This angers me a lot, for some reason. I feel like they were openly and blatantly pissing on the beliefs and culture of the people they were displacing. “Hey, you can’t worship your god here. Get out. And thanks for this wonderful building. It’s a church now. Your god is no longer welcome here. Fuck you, it’s ours.”
Me with a pounding headache, feeling guilty about the actions of my fellow Christians.
I don’t really know where else we went inside the city after the Mezquita. I don’t have any pictures to help me remember. My next recollection is crossing the Roman bridge on our way back, and ending up at the Torre de La Calahorra. It was originally a fortified gate, but is now a museum of sorts. It became my first audio-guide experience in Spain.
There’s a marvelous miniature version of the Mezquita inside. It will probably be your only chance to take wide photos of the place without other people appearing in frame. It’s also supposedly how the Mezquita looked before it was appropriated as a Catholic Church
The lit alcove is the only one inside the whole Mezquita. It shows the way to Mecca, and the direction to Allah.
My favorite exhibit, though, was one of the first stations inside. There were some statues of the old Moorish and Christian kings/leaders, with the audio-guide sharing some of their decrees and beliefs. While I don’t remember their names, I do recall certain important points in their message:
- There’s no difference between men and women in the eyes of God.
- There’s no difference between a good Christian and a good Muslim.
- A good person is good, regardless of religion. A bad person is bad, regardless of religion.
- Christians and Muslims can coexist and prosper, while sharing a mutual respect for each one’s beliefs and practices.
What the fuck happened to this message of tolerance, inclusion and common sense? Women’s rights were respected, science didn’t have to be in conflict with religion, and xenophobia wasn’t encouraged. I felt like the Christian “reconquest” set us back hundreds of years. Later, I’d realize how true this was.
The tour culminates at the top of the tower, offering a view of the Roman bridge leading back into the city. Like my finger in this photo, there was a bad taste in my mouth which prevented me from fully enjoying this moment.
I was glad to be away, on the road to Seville.
[PiSS] in Review
Episode 2: The Rage Awakens