Day Trip to Cordoba

I take the high speed train from Seville to Cordoba. Leaving the station I walk the two kilometres to the Mezquita. I do not immediately enter but instead continue to the Guadlquivir and cross the Roman bridge which spans it.

Roman Bridge

I am standing on the southern side of the Guadalquiver, in the warm Andulasian sun, over-looking the Roman bridge. In my view also lies the Roman Gate and the Cordoba Mezquito. The bridge dates from the 1st century BC but has gone under many modifications, including a major restoration in 2006. The gate was the gate into a walled Roman city.

Roman Bridge and Mezquito
Roman Bridge, and Mezquito
Roman Gate
Roman Gate

To my eye the exterior of the Mezquito does not look very impressive. "Is it really the architectural wonder that I travelled from Seville this morning, in the high speed train, to see?" To discover the answer, I walk back over the bridge and into the Mezquito.

Cordoba Mezquita

Is the Cordoba Mezquita a mosque or a church? How many other places in the world do people say "I am going to the Mosque to attend mass?"


The Visigoth Basilica of San Vicente occupied the location when Cordoba was conquered by the Muslims in 711. The church was divided into a Christian half and a Muslim half. When the Christian half was purchased by the Emir 'Abd al-Rahman I in 784 the structure was demolished and the Grand Mosque of Cordoba built in its place. Its construction continued for the next 200 years, until the completion of the orange tree patio. When Cordoba was conquered by the Christian King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236, the central area of the Mosque was converted into a Catholic church.

Mosque surrounding Cathedral
Cordoba Mosque, Cathedral and Orange Tree Patio

The Mezquita can be regarded as a cathedral surrounded by a mosque or a mosque with an internal cathedral. Cost of entrance, is 9 Euro. An optional auto tour can be purchase for 3.50 Euro.

Prayer Hall

Upon entering the prayer room the first thing to strike me was subdued light and the rows and rows of marble columns arranged linearly in every direction. Of the original 1293 columns, 856 still remain. The wall separating the patio from the prayer hall did not exist in Islamic times. As the salvaged Roman columns were not high enough to support the ceiling at the required height double horseshoe arches were used to increase the height. Alternate red and white bricks increase its asthetic appeal. Horseshoe arches were common in Visigoth architecture.

Columns in Prayer Hall
 Visigoth Museum
Note: Visigoth Museum in Background

Ceiling supports are a combination of Roman and Visigoth styles. There is a small Visigoth Museum in the prayer hall.


In most Mosques the mibrah, a niche or mark in the wall which identifies the qibla, the wall which points in the direction of the Kbaal in Mecca. Muslims kneel to prayer in this direction. Mecca is south-east of Cordolba but the qibla points south. The reason for this is not really known. One explanation is the qibla follows a previous Roman road; another is the the Umayyad Ruler, exiled from Damacus, wanted it to face the same direction as the qibla in Damacus.

Cordoba Mosque Mibrah
Cordoba Mosque Mibrah

Another function of the Mibrah is to amplify the voice of the Imam leading prayers. Here acoutics are also enhanced by a shell-shaped ceiling carved from a single block of marble. The mibrah area is decorated with Byzantine mosaics of gold.

Dome in front of and abover Mibrah
Dome in front of and abover Mibrah

Cathedral of St Mary of Assumption

The current cathedral dates from the Renaissance period, between 1523 and 1599.

Interface between Mosque and Cathedral
Cathedral Choir
Elaborately carved Choir Stalls

Patio and Bell Tower

The bell tower, built on the site of a previous mineret, is 93 metres high.

Bell Tower

After spending several hours inside the Mezquita tells me: "Yes, it is the the architectural wonder that I travelled from Seville to explore"

Alcarzar de los Reyes

Alcarzar de los Reyes was a bonus visit. A gift of the long summers day. An Andulasian summer's day reminds me of summer days on the plans of New South Wales around Wagga-Wagga coupled with the long Tasmanian summers day. It was fairly late when I arrived. In winter, it would have been sunset.


The Visigoth and Moor, have occupied the site. However in spite of its Islamic appearance the current structure was built after the Christian conquest of 1236. Though it was once a palace, today it is not very palatial. Only the Roman mosaics are of interest.

Roman Mosaics
Roman Mosaics

The castle, 4100 square meters and square, was rebuilt in 1327 by King Alfonso XI. It had towers at every corner. Today three remain, connected by battlement protected walkways. Many views of Cordoba can be seen from the walksways; the Romain Bridge and Water Wheel; the Royal Stables and the Castle Gardens.

Walkways and Towers
Walkways and Towers
Roman Bridge and Albolafia Waterwhee
Roman Bridge and Albolafia Waterwheel
Royal Stables
Royal Stables


Highlight of the Alcarzar de los Reyes, for me, is the 55000 square meter gardens. It has a wide variety of trees such as lemon, palm, pine, orange and cypress. Fountains are located at path intersections. However the sense of relaxation is provided by sound, the sound of jetted water hitting water in the long ponds. I could sit for hours, in a semi-trance, listening.

Garden View from Walkway
Garden View from Walkway
Long Pond
Long Pond with jetted water

Originally some of the water to the castle was supplied by the Albolafia waterwheel. Queen Isabella did not like the noise it was making and had it disassembled.