27 July 2013

Winter Travelogue : Cordoba

After all these time? 

Always.

The lazybug has got the best of me, what with exams and other stuff and every thing in between. Ironically, I can't seem to remember other significant event other than exams. Oh well.

 My memory is so screwed up, but I forgot that we went out of Malaga before heading to Seville.

We're here!
So what I forgot was that before we continued our journey to Seville, other than Cordoba, which is a day-trip where we returned to Malaga at the end of the day, we also went on an amazing journey to a majestic town on top of a mountain, I guess, although it was a small mountain. I'd die if I would fall off the cliff, which is at a 90 degree angle.

The first town, was Cordoba. The sole purpose of coming here was to see the old Cordoba mosque and to find a glimpse of its glory in the 800s during the Umayyad caliphate. Although the mosque is now technically a church, with crosses and crucifixions at almost every corner of the building, except this one part; the old mimbar of the old mosque of the old kingdom. It was officially known as Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba or Mezquita–catedral de Córdoba, in Spanish.

It took about two to three hours by bus to get there, which costed about 13 Euros pax one way. As usual, the bus was comfortable, so as all of the services in Europe, I guess. As we arrived there, I met with a friend who also studied in Egypt, although he was already going out of Cordoba to his next destination.
Don't you love it, when you bumped across a friend in the most unexpected circumstances?


As a Malaysian-Egyptian, walking through a pathway like this in a comfortable weather is a great treat.

Anyway, as we walked around the city trying to find the mosque, which is relatively far from the bus station, (I was hoping that it was just around the corner, my lazy ass), we took a bus and dropped off at a junction of fifteen minutes of walking distance to the site. Although a little disappointed, the walk was actually amazing, with orange trees on the side of the road, the clean streets which is a great change compared to the streets of Egypt, the weather was perfect, not too cloudy as it will rain but cloudy enough to cover the sun.


Can anyone read this?

Riverside.




Ruins





an old structure just outside of the mosque's compound.

We finally found it!

Glimpse of the old days flashed through my mind as we walked the narrow streets of Cordoba, with ruins and damaged but well-preserved minarets, pillars and archways here and there. We spend a good half an hour at the water front, where the river was violent and muddy. Oh who cares anyway, that was not the reason tourists come to Cordoba.

I was again, disappointed when I found out that you need to purchase a ticket to enter the mosque, which was 8 euros pax. How ignorant was I? LOL. The building (I have a problem of calling it both a mosque which it is not anymore or a cathedral) was surrounded by a garden with lots and lots of orange trees. I was wondering why the trees hadn't got the fruits plucked off yet, and I tasted it and it was sour as hell. No wonder. There was also this small fountain  in the garden.


Outside view.
A walkway to the entrance.


Mosque of Cordoba, from outside.



From outside we can see the dome and the old minarets, standing proud after more that a millennium of existence. 


Arches.
A part of the ceiling that is still preserved well.

We entered the building. We spotted the characteristic horse-shoe archways immediately. Inside, beside the crosses and the sculptures of Jesus on a cross in every corner, there were rows of benches and a podium where the priests give his sermon, I think. Anyway, it was a typical view like the one I saw about churches on TV. 
The ceiling over the chapel.


The chapel right in the middle of the mosque.
My English is not very good, so I have a problem translating my memory into words. So here is a snippet from Wikipedia on the architechture.


The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper,onyxmarble, and granite. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple which had occupied the site previously, as well as other destroyed Roman buildings, such as theMérida amphitheatre. The double arches were a new introduction to architecture, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch. The famous alternating red and white voussoirs of the arches were inspired by those in the Dome of the Rock.[12] and also resemble those of the Aachen Cathedral, which were built almost at the same time. A centrally located honey-combed dome has blue tiles decorated with stars.


The mosque also has a richly gilded prayer niche or mihrab. The mihrab is a masterpiece of architectural art, with geometric and flowing designs of plants. Other prominent features were: an open court (sahn) surrounded by arcades, screens of wood, minarets, colourful mosaics, and windows of coloured glass.[12] The walls of the mosque had Quranic inscriptions written on them. As Islam rejects all sculptural or pictorial representation of people or of God, all decoration of the mosque is accomplished through tile work, caligraphy and architectural forms.
The original walls, with Quranic verses written on the arches.
It was gated, obviously to protect this relic.
The mimbar.
We spent about two hours here, taking pictures and walking into every room permitted to visit. Most of it was at a segment of the mosque where they preserved the original architecture of the mosque when it was really, a mosque. The original mimbar, of which was built not as of the direction of Makkah but southward, as to resemble another great mosque in Damascus, the homeland of the Umayyad. The descendants of the slayed caliph's longing of their home echoed through this part of the mosque. 

Then we went to have lunch at a small Indian restaurant where we had briyani after days of not eating rice at all. Well, kata orang melayu. For 15 Euros I got two plates of briyani rice and a bowl of chicken curry.

After we finished eating we had less than half an hour to catch our bus to Malaga which was at five in the afternoon, which is also apparently the last bus to Malaga. We nearly missed it, having to chase the bus as was it just leaving the bus station. It was a good laugh!
 
 
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