When I stepped into the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, I stepped straight into the heart of the city. Córdoba is located in Southern Spain and is about three hours by bus from my city of Granada. My bus had taken me farther into the Andalusia region and as my bus drew closer to Córdoba, olive trees began to fill the surrounding land.
I later learned that the Andalusia region has the world’s largest olive plantations. In fact, Spain is the world’s leading olive oil producer. Spain produces 45.5% of the world’s olive oil, the majority of which is produced in the Andalusia area.
Olive Oil is a famous commodity of Córdoba and after spending a good chunk of time seeing nothing but beautiful olive plants, there’s no doubt as to why.
Yet Córdoba had more surprises. The Mosque-Cathedral, or La Mezquita, was one of the first things I saw upon arriving. It’s the most important mosque in Spain and its history demonstrates its Andalusian influence. Originally it was built as a church by the Visigoths. When the Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century it was divided into Muslim and Christian halves, only to be converted again by Ferdinand III. Today the Christian church claims the Mosque-Cathedral as its own.
In a city where everything seems smaller, the Mosque-Cathedral’s high ceilings and arched halls are almost incomprehensible. The immense praying hall and its 865 columns, among the varying red and white patterns, will swallow anyone who enters. The aforementioned Roman columns are made of onyx, marble, jasper and granite. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was enough reason to visit, if nothing else.
However, it isn’t the only significant structure in Córdoba. Here you will also see a Roman bridge from the 1st century, built during the time of Augustus. The bridge has undergone reconstruction throughout the centuries and people walk across it today.
The city itself gives the illusion that Córdoba is a less populated town. Its streets are irregular and narrow, when it’s much a larger city than even Granada. In the 10th century, it had the biggest population in the world. Córdoba has one of the hottest summers in Spain and the white-washed walls help keep the buildings cooler. One particular street, Calleja de las Flores, is very popular with tourists. It ends in a plaza, where you might find several shops and perhaps a guitar player.
Granada still holds as my favorite Spanish city, though Córdoba is a beautiful place. Córdoba’s historic center is named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s certainly something to put on the itinerary.