My program cohort and I recently took a trip to Córdoba, a city filled with history and in the same province as my host city, for our Development of Spanish Culture course. This day trip would provide a great learning experience and an enjoyable time with friends. Before arriving in Córdoba, we stopped at an extra virgin olive oil company where we received a tour that explained their making the oil and the brief history of olive oil. I felt intrigued as the company had customers all around the world and because olive oil holds immense importance in the Spanish culture. We then boarded the bus and went onto Córdoba. Upon arriving, we were given free time and permission to visit the sites that we desired. My group of friends and I first visited the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a medieval alcázar that had beautiful gardens, patios, and fountains.
We then walked through the city to the Archeological Museum of Córdoba. There, we observed archaeological remains found in Córdoba and the province, from prehistoric times up to the period of Arab rule known as Al-Andalus. Most interesting was the archaeological site of the city’s Roman Theater, which was discovered when work for the building commenced! Following, we ate lunch collectively as a program, which was a great opportunity to meet new people in the program, and I tried pastel cordobes, a dessert originated in Córdoba.
After lunch, we were split up into groups and received a tour of the famous Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, a cathedral that was built in the center of what was previously a mosque that is rich in history. In 784, Abd al-Rahman, a Muslim ruler, ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was later expanded by other Muslim rulers. In 1236, however, Córdoba returned to Christian rule and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church. Interesting enough, controversy surrounds the Mosque-Cathedral because the Vatican and church authorities in Spain prohibit Muslims from praying in the Mosque-Cathedral. Moreover, the Mosque-Cathedral, a microcosm of cultures, had various influences on its architecture. The tour guide explained that there are 19 horseshoe arches around the Mosque-Cathedral that were previously kept open and that the building has a simple outside and a complex inside, both of which are elements of the Muslim culture. In addition, the Roman culture influence is present inside the building since there red and white semicircular arches, a characteristic of Roman architecture, support the weight of the whole building. Near the cathedral in the center of the building, the Gothic culture becomes more evident: the cathedral has many pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and very high towers and spires.
Overall, I loved visiting Córdoba while being surrounded by great people. It was interesting to see the different styles of architecture that we discussed during class in person. The Mosque-Cathedral was definitely my favorite as I find its history and mixture of cultures fascinating.