Last Friday we had the chance to go on a trip with the Entrelenguas family. We went to one of Andalusia’s most historical cities, full of culture: day trip to Cordoba.
After two hours in a minibus (during which I learnt to play ‘veo veo’, the Spanish version of I spy), we arrived, and (shocker!) it wasn’t raining. We started with a guided visit of the historical part of the city. Our guide told us several anecdotes: we learnt the story behind the statue in the square at the city’s entrance as well as many other interesting things. It’s a monument that commemorates the archangel Rafael. According to the legend, this archangel saved the city from the Black Death. During your day trip to Cordoba, you can find at least 16 statues of him spread throughout the city (they are usually impressively-large monuments). Lots of parents also call their children Rafael or Rafaela in his honour; each family boasts at least 5 Rafaels. On the 24th October, the tradition is that the people of Córdoba get together with their families for a big dinner, and those with the name Rafael have to foot the bill.
Next, we wandered through the streets around the Mezquita, admiring the balconies adorned with flowers and the cobbled roads. The once Arabic community in Cordoba carefully placed each stone by hand, following geometric patterns according to their size and colour. Their initial objective was to make sure that the ground wasn’t too muddy. I must say that I love Arabic architecture. I find that it emanates a sense of tranquillity and serenity, with its internal courtyards and fountains. Looking around me, I thought about how much I would love to see it without all of the cars and road signs, to find out what it was really like in the city during this period of rich cultural activity. Then the guide mentioned the period of the black death in Cordoba, and I reminded myself that modernity is also a very good thing in terms of hygiene as well as gender equality.
In the Jewish neighbourhood we rubbed the slippers of the doctor, philosopher, rabbi and theologian Maimonides, hoping to acquire a little extra wisdom.
Then came the visit of the most famous attraction of the city: the Mezquita. The mosque perfectly represents the mix of all types of culture that existed in Córdoba. With its various extensions, all more or less richly decorated, the mosque reveals a lot about the different khalifas that assumed the power in Andalucía and their ways of governing (the most recent extension, for example, is that of the regent Almanzor, and is the biggest yet it was built with the poorest materials given that his government was not at all economically prosperous; he wasn’t at all knowledgeable in political strategy). However, the most impressive is perhaps the Christian cathedral that is hidden in its centre; a distinctive feature that merits its place on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
This visit reminded me of a small-scale performance that we did in sixth-form. We studied the Arabic Era in Spain, and we discussed the mixture of the three cultures in Cordoba: Jewish, Arabic and Christian. I had to play Abderraman III (the khalifa at the origin of the second expansion of the mosque). Thus I wore a turban, and my dad (who is a carpenter) made me a wooden sabre. We performed this short piece at the sixth-form open day. It is still one of my favourite school memories!
Finally, to finish this article, I’m going to make you a little hungry and talk about the most important part of Spanish culture: the food! For lunch (we were ravenous after having woken early to take the bus) we visited Bar Santos and each ate a slice of Spanish Tortilla and a portion of Salmorejo (an Andalusian Speciality, which resembles gazpacho but is a little thicker in consistency, made of bread, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, eggs and serrano ham). Then we all sat on a step outside the mosque to eat this delicious food. I can definitely recommend the local cuisine, as well as a day trip to Cordoba!
Have a look others day trip from Ronda here!