*This blog post was written when I studied abroad in Granada in 2009. Though it is certainly not up to the quality of the articles I currently write, I didn’t want to lose the humble beginnings of this blog (at the time called European Escapades). Bear this in mind, and check back, as I plan to write more informative posts with photographs about many of the places I visited while studying abroad.*
Wow, it’s so strange to think that exactly one month ago today, I arrived in Granada. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been a month, but then again, I couldn’t tell you how long it does feel like it’s been. I’ve just been living here…so strange. Anyway, the past few weeks I have pretty much got myself into a routine. I wake up early for classes, come home for lunch at 2:30, and later on I either go hang out with friends, go back to class, or do homework, sometimes all three. I still don’t know the city as well as I’d hoped to by this time, but I’m definitely much better at improvising and keeping my sense of direction straight.
Anyway, this past Friday we took a trip to Córdoba, which is about 2.5 hours away from Granada. In my Islamic Art and Architecture class we spent classes learning about the mezquita (mosque) of Córdoba, so I either knew that the mosque was going to be overrated, or awesome. It was awesome. The mosque is tucked back in the Judería, the jewish quarter of town, so the streets leading to it are all small and winding and cobble stoned (what IS a cobble stone?). From the outside the most is fairly unimpressive, except for the beautiful designs on the front door and on the wall surrounding it. However, once you walk through the front door, you step into a gorgeous patio covered in palm trees and other greenery.(Unfortunately blogger is being stupid and wont let me insert pictures into this post, but they are all on facebook). Like I was saying, you walk in to a beautiful patio and it is enormous.
***Educational info begin now: In class we learned a lot about this mezquita. Perhaps you are interested and would like to read about it. If not, skip to past the asterisks. Anyway, this mosque was constructed in sections. The first was the original mosque, built by Abd al-Rahman I, the califa at the time. I’m sorry I can’t tell you the english word for califa, if there is one, because before this class I knew nothing about Islam, their politics, or architecture. Basically the califas are successors of Mohammed, the prophet who begin Islam. After he died, different men took over for him and there was always a califa, until 1924. Anyway, the califa Abd al-Rahman I began building this mosque in 786 and it only took a year to build. Then the next califa Abd al-Rahman II added on to the mosque. The Abd al-Rahman III then Al-Hakam, and finally Almanzar. Then once the Christains took over Spain, they added a cathedral into the middle of this mosque. Literally. ***
Basically, this mezquita became reallllly really big. I was trying to decide how many football fields could fit inside it, but I’m terrible at spacial/distance estimation. But in my terribly unexpert opinion, Im going to say 8. Maybe 6. I’m terrible, I have no idea. The mezquita is filled with gorgeous red and white arcos de herradura, meaning the arches are 2/3 of a circle…picture a door from aladdin, or look at my pictures. The arcos are made of stone and brick and the red and white everywhere is really beautiful. We also got to see the mihrab, which is a tiny little circular room on the wall of Quibla, the wall that faces Mecca, where the Imam would stand to direct the prayer during services. It is soooo beautifully decorated, covered in tiled mosaics that were sparkly and gorgeous. Fun fact: in this mosque the wall of Quibla doesnt actually face the direction of Mecca. The first guy built it wrong and then everyone else kept adding onto it. Finally they realized it wasn’t facing quite south east, but apparently in the Coran (spanish spelling) it says it’s best to carry on a tradition, because if they would have made the last addition to the mezquita turned in the correct direction, apparently the mezquita would have fallen (figuratively not literally.) Anways, if you turn around from the Quibla and walk for 15 seconds, you are in a cathedral. Literally, the pics on my facebook were taken in the order they are posted, and there is actually a cathedral inside the mezquita. Weird.
Anyway, the rest of Córdoba was pretty cool, and afterward we even went to Madinat al-Zahra, an exclusive city 8km from Córdoba that Abd al-Rahman III built in 929. It was eventually covered and ruined, but in 1911 some smarty pants figured out that the city was buried under the ground, and they started restoration. There is still a ton of the city that is buried underground, (you can tell using infrared technology) (wow had no idea that first “r” was in infrared), but they dont have the money to restore it yet.
All in all, Cordoba was a really nice city even though we only spent a few hours there and didn’t see much. I liked being able to see all of the technical architecture things we talked about in class in person, cause it makes it easier to picture/remember for the exam, and it was gorgeous.
I’m thinking of taking a hike up to the mirador San Nicolas to take some pics of the Alhambra at sunset/night, so I’ve got to be going. Besos xoxo