I know this post was promised a while back but as you can imagine, a new baby is quite a handful. Alhamdulillah, he’s growing up so quickly (5.5 months already!) and everyday I learn something new as a parent.
Our vacation was such a wonderful journey through the time of Islamic rule in Spain. Our tour group, Andalucian Routes, did an amazing job of showcasing the cities of Cordoba and Granada to us. If you’re ever thinking of a trip to Spain I highly recommend going with them as they have such passion and love for what they do. And they tell the rich history of Spain from the viewpoint of the Spanish Muslims of that time. Tariq, the tour organizer, provides a wealth of information that makes it easy for you to appreciate how much of an impact Muslims had in creating the Spain of today. From the olive and fig trees to the aqueduct system, modern day Spain owes a lot to the great minds of Muslims past. Even the names of cities, rivers, buildings etc. are derived from the era of Islamic Spain – the river Guadalquivir is from the Arabic Wadi al Kabir, Lanjaron Fort (Ain Al Haroon), Al- Hambra ( Al-Hamra meaning the red in Arabic)
The city of Cordoba (Qurtuba) is where the great Mosque of Cordoba is. The Mezquita, as it’s commonly referred to, is an architectural masterpiece. The distinct red and white arches are easily recognized and to see them in person is awe-inspiring. The history of the Mezquita is interesting; it was built by Ameer Abd al-Rahman and later converted to a cathedral when the city was reconquered by the Christians. You’re given a glimpse of its rich past by the different architectural styles that envelop its walls. There are crucifixes and gargoyle fixtures mixed with intricate calligraphy carved into the ceiling. The bell tower was once the minaret from where the call to prayer was given. The ornate mehrab was converted into a burial site for the higher ranking members of the church.
Across from the Mezquita is a museum on Islamic Spain. The museum provides as interactive display of how life was in the city of Cordoba around the 10th Century AD. The museum is housed in the Calahhora Tower, which was built to defend the city. It is connected to the Mezquita by the grand Roman bridge that spans the Guadalquivir river.
Another must see in Cordoba is the archaeological site of Madinat al Zahra. The city was built by Caliph Abdul Rahman 111 as a demonstration of his wealth and power. It was the first planned city in Europe and was known as the capital of al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain as it included ceremonial reception halls, mosques, administrative and government offices, gardens, workshops, barracks, residences, and baths. But it was destroyed within 80 years of its construction due to unjust and unequal leadership. Today, about 10% of the city has been excavated and a museum built near the grounds to display the artifacts found.
The Calahorra Tower
The Roman Bridge
Inside the Mezquita
The Minaret now Bell Tower
Relics from the original building