3/05/2011

Visual Wonder - Cathedral at Cordoba

About a year ago, we were on tour in Spain. Of course food and wine was beyond words. Vino tinto and tapas—does it get any better? I was, at least, remotely aware of the most famous attractions before I got there. But one sight caught me completely off guard, the Cathedral at Cordoba.
This Christian cathedral was originally built by Visigoths in the 6th century. Moslems demolished it in 785AD and erected a monumental mosque in its place, modeled after a famous Mosque in Damascus. They kept expanding on it and improving on it until it became the mosque of reference and exceeded the grandeur of the mosque in Damascus.
When you step inside the small doorway in the plain brick exterior, your gaping mouth will hit the floor. It is like walking inside an Escher painting the size of a football field. Optically it dazzles your senses--makes you feel like you are looking into a mirror of infinitly reflected images. In every direction you look, beautifully tiled archways recede into space.


But this is not the end of the story. In 1236, King Ferdinand III reconquered Cordoba. He recognized the beauty and wonder of the Islamic mosque and rather than destroy it, he built a full size Christian cathedral right in the middle of it. When you make your way through the myriad of endless Moslem archways, you emerge into the Christian Cathedral with Gothic arches reaching towards the heavens.

Most my neighbors have been on tour in Spain. Oddly, they all missed the Cathedral at Cordoba. If you are lucky enough to visit southern Spain, be sure to take the side tour and see the cathedral at Cordoba.
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