Our second day trip took us to Cordoba. After driving about two hours through a relatively dry landscape we came to the city that sits on a river along the foothills of a small mountain range. It was a very enjoyable day and we were very fortunate to have such great weather.
We parked just outside the city center. Passing through this section of the city walls that are still intact, we wandered through the cobbled streets of the city. Most of the buildings share this white exterior outlined in yellow. The medieval town center is a series of winding streets as they maintain the original layout.
We passed by the Royal Stables that was established in the 16th century. The original horse stables are well maintained and exhibit wonderful architecture of arched ceilings. There is an interior training yard and another set of exterior stables that now house the horses. There is also this very tall interior riding ring, with a fancy viewing area that performances are given in.
The Alcazar began as a Visigoth fortress, which was conquered by the Moors who transformed it into a large palace. Cordoba was captured in 1236 by King Ferdinand III during the Reconquista. Most of what exists presently was created by Alfonso XI in the 14th century. It was pure serendipity that we decided to visit Cordoba on a Wednesday when the Alcazar is free to visit.
We were able to walk along the outer walls and climb up onto the main tower, giving us these amazing views into the courtyards and gardens inside the Alcazar, and also out onto the city.
In one room there was a display of some very complete and large sections of Roman floors. These were some of the best preserved pieces we had seen.
Another interesting feature of the Alcazar are the Moorish baths. There are a few rooms that make up the baths, several of which have these star shaped openings in the ceiling.
Above is a view of the south-western façade of the Mezquita. The building began in the year 600 as a Visigoth church, and was transformed into a mosque between the 8th and 10th centuries. Below is a picture from the large enclosed courtyard towards the Mezquita. You can see the church that has been built in the middle of it.
The interior is an enormous rectangle (almost square) of these very uniform arches. There are 856 columns made of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite, much of it taken from pieces of a Roman temple that had occupied the site. There are also many beautiful architectural features and motifs, including decorated ceiling beams and walls, altars, and windows.
Incredibly, there is also a church that has been built directly into the Mezquita. After the Reconquista there were many efforts in converting the Mezquita back into a church, although many of the Moorish features remain.
Just south of the Mezquita there is a reconstructed Roman bridge that has linked the city across the river for centuries, and this large gateway.
Tucked in among the winding streets is this synagogue that was built in 1315. After the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 it was used for various functions.