Tuesday 8 May 2012

Córdoba: "Don't hit the mosque"

We thought we were smart booking a hotel that was close to the World Heritage listed Mezquita that is Córdoba's major tourist drawcard. Turns out not so much. It was so close that was really really hard to get to, and our car, so useful to date, was a major liability.

We spent almost 2 hours within 2km of the hotel trying to solve the puzzle of tiny one-way streets, alleys, and construction road closures. After finding another hotel in the same chain we got some directions, which were mostly right, and involved entering a restricted vehicle area around the mosque itself by pressing an intercom button and getting a car barrier opened. I spotted our hotel shortly after that adventure (fun with limited Spanish), and getting desperate, tried to duck down a one-way street the wrong way, only to have a car appear in the other direction. Now I had to do a 1000 point turn, with the world-heritage listed mosque on one side, and a cafe full of people on the other. Fun times.

We eventually found the hotel and I nearly lost it when the tiny car park under the hotel was marked as full. Luckily the hotel had a couple of spots reserved, and even better Avis didn't charge us for all the scratches we picked up from other cars squeezing into the parks around us.

Drama over, the mosque was spectacular. It was founded in 785 when the Moors held most of modern day Andalusia, and in the 16th century had a Catholic cathedral plonked right in the middle, complete with a bell tower encasing the original minaret. The information inside the church makes a big deal of the Visigoth ruins that have been found beneath the Mosque: 'hey dude we were totally here first', which apparently justifies the Vatican's position of banning Muslims from praying inside the 'church'.

Outside of the mosque there were plenty of other things to see. The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs) had some amazing gardens.

And those tiny little alleys that were so frustrating in a car turned out to be some of the cutest, most beautiful old cobblestone streets we saw in Spain.

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