Days: 12 (16 March 2017)
Total distance travelled: 19,411.33 kilometres (12,056.70 miles)
To continue our adventures in Spain, we were back on the rails, our Eurail passes again utilised and with the high speed train hitting speeds around the 250 kilometre per hour (that’s approximately 155 miles per hour), the short distance between Seville and Cordoba was never going to be a long journey (roughly 140 kilometres separates the two cities).
We had a night booked, allowing us ample time to explore the city, however there was really only one lure.
Another UNESCO site, the Mezquita de Córdoba was the true reason we were using one of our precious few days stopping in this city of around 300,000 people.
The Mezquita de Córdoba was once upon a time a mosque, a legacy of the Moors and their period of Islamic governance of parts of the Iberian Peninsula.
Since the 13th Century however, with the return of Christian rule came its conversion to a cathedral, and is now officially known as the Cathedral of our Lady of the Assumption (I thought it amusing, that apparently, pre-Islam it was actually a church that stood on the grounds, making it all feel a bit tit for tat).
Somewhat perfectly for us, the Cordoba railway station is located very centrally, so it was a nice leisurely stroll from it, even with our bags, to our nights lodgings.
By now, as anyone who has read our misadventures up until now might predict, it was time for lunch.
The streets of the historical centre were perfect for ambling, however they did have the tendency to meander in all sorts of directions, the only certainty seemingly that they all went either somewhere near the Mezquita or that they were sloping down towards the river (and in some instances, both).
Somewhere in the midst of this warren, we found ourselves lunching at the most un-Spanish of establishments, the Cafe Viena. To further confuse matters, it was serving Italian pastas and not Austrian fare!
The food did the job, but was far less memorable than the odd name…
A five minute walk, and we were at the cathedral.
At any time we could access the courtyard, apparently known as the Court of Oranges (easy to see why, given the Orange trees everywhere), and as we wandered and admired the views, there were only a handful of other tourists about, most of Asian origin.
To enter the interior of the Mezquita, we would be required to pay a €10 fee, which despite the UNESCO tag, gave us some reluctance (we generally hesitate when there’s the potential that our money may go into church coffers), however if we would be patient, we would be in luck.
Although the official entry times were 10am to 7pm at this time of year, if we were to arrive earlier than the ticketed opening hours, entrance was actually free!
That quickly settled matters for us, and we resolved to come back the following morning.
With afternoon hours still to kill, we ended up down by the water and the river Guadalquivir, and its most famous span, the Puente Romano de Córdoba (the Roman Bridge of Córdoba).
A wide pedestrian thoroughfare, it had about nine or ten arches across its several hundred metres of length, but it was the river itself that I found most interesting here.
Quite a few gravelly, foliage covered islands seemingly floated in the waters here, one of which sported a ruined stone tower with an old water wheel pinned to its side (I’ve no idea of the truth, however I assume the wooden wheel has been replaced over time).
The ruins were interesting enough, but it also appeared to have new tenants, with a family (or possibly several families) of cats now making it their home!
From the other river bank, the Mezquita dominated the city-scape, so we resolved to return in the evening to assess the lighting budget of both the bridge and cathedral.
This we did and whilst both were amply lit and impressive enough, the cameraman (*cough* me) was average, and all of the attempted photos emerged as a blurred mess!
A dull morning saw us queuing for our free entrance into the cathedral, and within, it truly was a beautiful structure.
We’ve seen ample mosques and cathedrals in our time, but this cavernous space was something special, for me the rows of columns and their multi coloured arches really making the place pop!
It was damn cold though, the combination of a dark, cavernous interior and all that stone make it a very chilly affair.
As such, it was a relief to emerge back outside, where for a brief moment we scored a bit more sunshine before the clouds again closed over (in fairness, the day continued to be a mixed bag of sun and cloud).
We wandered for a bit longer, re-visiting a few of the sights we’d already seen, and then it was an early afternoon train out of town.
* Our Eurail 2 country passes allowing 6 days of travel within 2 months cost us $96.00AUD per person (a special travel agents rate).
* To enter La Mezquita (The Mosque of Cordoba), we went in the morning before 10am when it was FREE.