Another Spanish city of many stories is Cordoba. Walking around parts of the city made me feel like I was traveling back in time, although the city has an energetic modern center. My walk into the city from the train station was magical. There’s a beautifully preserved ancient city wall with a crystal clear stream running alongside it.
Once I got to the old part of the city, I started to get a feel for the city. The narrow streets were bright and colorful, and some walls were covered in flowerpots. If you peek into gateways to houses, you’ll often see lush patios dense with greenery and flowers.
My first stop in the magical city was the old Roman bridge. The bridge, crossing the Guadalquivir River, was built over 2,000 years ago. While walking there, I got caught in a little rainstorm. It turned out to be for the best, because for one, most of the tourists had cleared out, and secondly, the view when the sun came out was stunning.
Another relic of Roman life are the temple ruins. Cordoba is the kind of city you can wander around without a map; it’s not so large you’ll get lost, and there are always surprises. This was a big surprise for me. I turned a corner, and there were all these pillars. My time in Spain has given me a better glimpse at the Roman Empire that influenced so strongly the world that came after.
A mandatory stop for me was the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. This site has complicated history; originally a Visigoth Christian church, turned into a mosque, that was divided and maintained a Christian half; then, after the Reconquista, it was turned into a catholic church, how it remains to this day. This history is reflected in the diversity of decoration and styles inside the building. When I walked in, I was immediately blown away. First thing: it’s enormous. Second: the Moorish arches and pillars are totally unique and have a spectacular optical effect.
The catholic nave in the cathedral was also gorgeous. As I was walking around, the organ player began to play, and it lent the place an even greater solemnity and beauty.
My other favorite stop was the twelve courtyards at the Viana Palace. As I mentioned briefly before, patios are a really important element in Andalusian (southern Spanish) architecture. Each one was delightfully different; some were more austere and relied more on architecture, and some were overflowing with plants.
My last stop before heading home was to the synagogue. Cordoba has one of the three synagogues in Spain. It was a contrast from the cathedral. It was small and simple. The stone walls were carved and parts were inscribed with Hebrew passages from the Torah.
Cordoba reflects the great variety of religions that have cohabitated in Spain: from the Romans, to the early Christians, to the Muslims, to the Jews, and finally Catholics. It is evident the way religion has influenced the movements of history, especially in this country. I love that traveling is a sensory way of experiencing history, and it’s been one of my favorite things about Spain.