Monday, June 11, 2007

Days 6 & 7: Córdoba

From Madrid, to Córdoba I went, my first time in Andalusia. I enjoyed Córdoba immensely, lack of wi-fi notwithstanding. Not only is it a much smaller city than Madrid, it has an entirely different feel, more relaxed and serene than the bustling metropolis.

Córdoba has some interesting Roman remains, especially the late 3rd/early 4th century palace known as La Cercadilla, discovered (and to a great extent destroyed) when the train station was expanded. I would like to talk more about it, but it is a difficult site to explain in brief, so I will save it for a future Question Time. Instead, I will talk about Córdoba's more famous monument, the Mezquita or the Great Mosque, begun in AD 754 and expanded over the next 250 years, then turned into a Christian cathedral after the Reconquest. The latter event has caused some jarring effects, as 16th, 17th and 18th century architecture intrudes upon the earlier structure as if it had teleported in from some different dimension. However, one can still feel the majesty of the earlier building.

It really is something to behold; much more impressive than I had expected (which is saying something). Definitely something for the must-see-before-you-die list. The beauty of the architectural work is quite breathtaking:

The building is really something one needs to walk through to get the full experience. The atmosphere is something I have only felt in a few places, such as St. Peter's. My camera has a video feature and so I shot a short film showing the south end and leading up to the qibla niche (which was, unfortunately, inaccessible). This is the part built by the Caliph Al-Hakam II.

(Let me know if people have trouble seeing this).

In addition to the Mosque, the old quarter of Córdoba has many traditional Andalusian houses, some dating back in part to the 12th century. They share the common Mediterranean design of a quiet central patio with typically a fountain and flowering plants:

Different rooms open onto the courtyard, creating a extremely cool and tranquil atmosphere.

Originally, I had decided my dream house would be neo-Georgian. Now, however, I think that if I end up in a warm climate, it will have to be Andalusian.

Finally, another bit of Spanglish humor. Córdoba has a Dunkin' Donuts clone. Now, Dunkin' Donuts is not that exotic -- there are Dunkin' Donuts in Madrid. Remember McDowell's restaurant from Coming to America? Same idea here -- same colors, same layout, same kind of food. However, the name has been changed to protect the guilty. It would seem that the proprietors felt the most important thing about the original name was the alliteration. So I give you...."Duffin Dagels."

I guess the name is supposed to remind one of muffins and bagels, but the store sells neither, and I doubt most Spaniards know what they are anyway.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious, those Dagels.

Very nice post. To me, you represent the first globetrotting, fully tech-savvy archaeologist. Posting Youtube movies is a fine addition and really makes your travels come alive.

You're opening up your discoveries and observations to a whole new generation of world citizens who may otherwise know nothing about archaeology--keep it up. I'm certainly learning.

Now I just need to figure out how to convince you to add your astute observations and keen mind to add to the mix over at Armillary Observations -- your wit and mind would make it an even heartier simmering stew!

Travel safely, godspeed.


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