Puerta del Perdon, March 2017. Cast your eyes over any Best of Andalucia lists and you’ll see the city of Granada catching most of the plaudits, thanks in part to its stunning Alhambra Palace. But there’s nothing second fiddle about the city of Córdoba and its equally dramatic Mezquita (Great Mosque). Hailed as one of the world’s most impressive examples of Islamic architecture, I arrived from Malaga on the bullet train with great expectations. Located in the city’s beautiful historical centre, I entered the Mezquita through this 14th century Mudéjar gateway with a feeling I was about to see something special.
Patio de los Naranjos, March 2017. The gateway leads you into this huge square, which aptly translates as Courtyard of the Orange Trees. It’s free to wander around, but you’ll need to grab a ticket from the row of counters to go inside the actual mosque. Slip inside before 10am and you won’t have to pay a cent, otherwise it’s ten Euros.
The Mezquita Arches, March 2017. The wow factor kicks in the second you enter the main prayer hall, a bewitching forest of terracotta-white horseshoe arches and towering stone pillars. Simultaneously handsome and unsettling, there are 856 pillars in all, though getting a tourist-free shot proved to be quite a challenge. I spent at least fifteen minutes waiting for strolling couples, lingering photographers, irksome children and tiresome tour groups to disperse so that I could grab this shot.
The Mezquita Arches, March 2017. The double arches are made up of an upper semi-circular section and a lower horseshoe part, a unique design that allows for a higher ceiling. The colors were inspired by the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine in The Old City of Jerusalem.
Capilla Mayor Church, March 2017. Just when I thought my flabber couldn’t be any more gasted; I turned a corner to see this massive gothic church plonked right in the middle of the mosque! Charles V came up with the bright idea in the 16th century when the Christians captured Córdoba. The church also includes a sizeable choir with chunky, dirt-brown 18th century mahogany chairs. A solemn organist provided the tunes as I sat silently among the rows of wooden benches, gazing up at the ornate baroque ceiling. I have to admit to firing off a little prayer, namely that QPR would beat Rotheram that day in the football. God must have been listening, we won 5-1.