Courting Cordoba

We aren’t sure if we were courting Cordoba, or she was courting us … but one thing we know for sure is that she won our hearts! The love affair started when our cabbie drove us right up to the old Jewish quarter’s portal. Once we stepped over its threshold we were taken back in time–all the way back to medieval Europe. The whitewash buildings and the cobblestone lanes have not changed much since then. Like Venice it is easy to get “lost” here because you never know where the narrow streets will take you. Cordoba’s “old city” is also known as the city of courtyards. In the summer the locals have a contest to see who has the best courtyard. The winner has to have beautiful plants and water features to “score with the judges”. (That sounded a wee bit naughty, didn’t it??)

In the summer many owners open up their gates so visitors can take a quick peak at their courtyard. We passed this one several times but alas these doors won't open for another 2 or 3 months!

This courtyard belongs to the Zoco Arts & Crafts artisans. They sell beautiful hand made jewelry and leather goods. Their courtyard is always open - they want you to wander from studio to studio! You can watch artisans work!

This is our favorite courtyard. We'd visit it every day! Our favorite spot was by the fountain. Locals often socialize or eat lunch here. Don't let the grey sky fool you -- we had sunny days everyday but one!

Most visitors trek to Cordoba to explore the Mezquita. This site started out as a pagan temple, but soon became a mosque under the rule of the Umayyad Moors. The site changed hands again and became part of the Roman Catholic church. What is amazing is that many of the mosque’s unique features were kept by the Spanish. It’s beautiful palm tree columns and colorful Moorish tiles make it a site to behold.

These wonderful columns were part of the original mosque. There are hundreds of these columns inside. We love strolling under the "palm fronds"!

The screen shown here mimics the Moorish tiles found decorating the church's walls.

The church's dome and passageways are perfect examples of Moorish architecture.

We could hear the lovely church bells from our hotel ... The bell tower was added by the Spanish after the conquest.

Of course there is more to see in the old city. Some of our favorite places are the Roman bridge and the Alcazar (the Royal Palace).

We love the Roman bridge. We walked it just about every day! It is popular with locals and visitors. At the far end is a tower that has been turned into a Islamic museum. The Mezquita-Cathedral can be seen in the distance.

During the Spanish Inquisition, the palace (or Alcazar) became a forum and was used as civil and military jail.

King Ferdinand or garden gnome?? You decide.

Even though it is winter here, flowers still bloom!

What really won us over though was the Medieval Festival. It is held at the end of January. The marketplace has a series of interesting booths chalk full of goods and services. You can find distinctive items like troll dolls, live owls and falcons, Lord of the Rings helmets, pony rides, 18 different types of ham, roast pigs, slippers, candies, cheeses, jewelry and leather goods, and much more!

Having a ball ...

Belle of the ball ...

You guessed it, this is Wade's favorite picture of the festival.

Paella is one of Spain's most popular dishes. It is a rice dish served with whatever you have in your fridge. It might be sausage, chicken, seafood, peppers, peas and so on. The wonderful color comes from the saffron.

Visit Cordoba. Let her court you too. We know she will win your heart.



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