After being in Seville for a week and a half we decided to take a 45 minute train ride to Córdoba to see the Mezquita or, and here’s the long title: “The Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption” (they are one building). But first we had to negotiate the Spanish Train system.
We had purchased tickets in Italy on line and even used a paperless e-ticket when boarding when we were on trenitalia from Assisi to Florence. However the Spanish train system – the Renfe web site was stubbornly refusing to let us purchase. Our card was repeatedly declined. I called our credit card company to find out what happened. Had someone accessed our account? Did they remember we were going to Europe and specifically Spain? Had our identity been stolen?
Capital One pleaded innocent. From their viewpoint end our credit perfect, our card fraud free. We went to the train station and took a number for people waiting for trains for the next day. We sat with a woman who had been waiting for 3 hours and was dying for some company. Ariana was able to carry on a decent conversation that included waiting in line forever, food, and grandchildren. It turned out to be kind of fun – another unexpected adventure. Photos were shown, proper smiles were shared and still we waited. Not so fun after a while.
After only an hour we were able to purchase paper tickets with cash for a train to Córdoba for the next day. And we thought our troubles were over. Ha.
The next day the train was a bit late in closing all doors and getting ready to pull out. All the trains at the station were electric at first – then changed to probably diesel when they left town. All electric seemed to mean the train worked or it did not. First the lights went off. Then the train made some unusual noises. The Spainairds in the car looked at each other. The lights came one, they smiled. The lights went off mild Spanish expletives. The lights came on again and the train moved a couple of meters. Then the lights went off. Big disappointed sigh from the crowd. Some made to get up but then the lights came on again and we were off … Slowly – only a half hour late.
I reflected that, if this were Italy there would have been a lot more discussion and perhaps a few intense conversations about the nature of train travel or the nature of this particular train. People would have been standing in the aisle and several would have been arguing with the conductor and he or she would have been arguing back. But this was Spain and apparently train delay was not unusual.
As we traveled to Córdoba we passed a magnificant looking castle. I couldn’t get a good photo but here’s a link that tells all about it.
We continued on to Córdoba and began our walk to the Grand Mosque or Mezquita. We had a lovely walk approaching the Mezquita though a long garden/ parkway that started from the train station. On the way were rose gardens and an unique children’s playground. Being a professional fan of children’s playground (from both the education profession and from working with a professional playground installer, I notice the rope jungle gym in the middle. Ropes are a very clever way to challenge kids as they are not as steady a grip and require the child to build some skill while standing on a swaying support.
We continue on through some very sweet smelling rose gardens and past flowing trees.
The air in Córdoba is very dry but this spring day was cool and the weather being cloudy added to a pleasant temperature. In the summer people report that the heat is intense – sometimes even for Spaniards.
The Mesquita is not easy to enter. One cannot buy tickets online unless you into a tour. It is confusing to walk into the main courtyard before the entrance and see very long lines on both sides. One for person ticket sales, one for machine ticket sales, one for groups and one for individuals with their tickets. Only one of the ticket machines was working. After we waited to purchase tickets and waited to use the tickets, we were in.
When we entered the sight was impressive.
There are many interior arches and columns that support one large opening. Inside that opening are a few side rooms – one with amazing detail around the arch.
Some archways had more detail in the interior and the ceilings were very detailed but hard to photograph.
The Mezquita is both a Mosque and a Cathedral. The Cathedral is also very beautiful but it contrasts sharply with the mosque in color and architectural form.
The Cathedral is in the center of the Mosque and seems almost swallowed up by the columns around it. The Cathedral is better lit but the lighting somehow isolates it amidst the vastness of its surrounding.
There is a Muslim group that would like permission to pray in part of the Mosque. At this point I understand that the church will not permit it.
This seems unfortunate. What an opportunity for the two religions to share this magnificant place of prayer.