Day 10: Córdoba and Sevilla

Tuesday, the 15th, was a travel day. But, we didn’t let that interfere with our enjoyment of Spain’s wonderful sights. We left our hotel in Toledo earlier than usual so that being in our rental car, a Toyota Yaris, would not be the only thing we did on that day. For three and a half hours, we drove across the central plains of Spain, which are occasionally dissected by mountain ranges. Our ultimate destination was Seville, but we elected to make a stopover in Córdoba, a city in Andalusia, and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. It is home to La Mezquita, what must be one of the most unusual churches in the world. The site was home to a 6th century Visigoth church prior to its razing and the construction of a massive and impressive mosque over the top of it in 784. (Muslims invaded and conquered Spain in 711 A.D.) When the Christians reconquered Córdoba, the mosque was converted to a Christian church in 1236. Then, in the 16th century, a large Renaissance Cathedral was built right in the midst of the mosque. This history makes for one unique architectural experience. The mosque was never destroyed, but the church was constructed in the middle of it all. So, when touring the site, one experiences a blend of Islamic and Christian aesthetics in a manner unseen elsewhere. We marveled at both the history and the beauty as we toured La Mezquita.

Next to the Mezquita in Córdoba.  We, of course, visited the souvenir shop. :)

Next to the Mezquita in Córdoba. We, of course, visited the souvenir shop. 🙂

External architecture of the  Mezquita

External architecture of the Mezquita

The mosaic floor of the 6th century Visigoth church which has been excavated beneath the floor of the existence church

The mosaic floor of the 6th century Visigoth church which has been excavated beneath the floor of the existence church

Inside the Mezquita

Inside the Mezquita

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Beatiful ceiling above the Mihrab (the mosque equivalent of a high altar in a Christian church)

Beatiful ceiling above the Mihrab (the mosque equivalent of a high altar in a Christian church)

Mihrab to left amidst other Islamic architecture

Mihrab to left amidst other Islamic architecture

The glorious Renaissance Cathedral erected in the midst of the mosque.  The mosque portion is about 30' high.  The Cathedral portion is 130' high.  This likely says something about the different religions.

The glorious Renaissance Cathedral erected in the midst of the mosque. The mosque portion is about 30′ high. The Cathedral portion is 130′ high. This likely says something about the different religions.

Wonderfully carved wood stalls in the choir.

Wonderfully carved wood stalls in the choir.

The dome of the Cathedral

The dome of the Cathedral

Looking over the choir down the nave to the back of the Cathedral

Looking over the choir down the nave to the back of the Cathedral

The Villaviciosa Chapel of 1236 A.D.  The ceiling visible above; the floor covered with the tombs of nobility.

The Villaviciosa Chapel of 1236 A.D. The ceiling visible above; the floor covered with the tombs of nobility.

Rooms of the 6th century Visigoth church

Rooms of the 6th century Visigoth church

One of the altarpieces in a side chapel

One of the altarpieces in a side chapel

After a quick lunch, we hopped back into our car for the remainder of the drive to Sevilla, where we would spend the next two nights. One hour later we arrived at our hotel, the Patio de la Alameda, which is situated on a busy plaza (La Alameda de Hércules) in the northern portion of the old city. After settling in, I took a short walk to the Basilica de la Macarena (No, they don’t do the Macarena there) to see the gorgeous 17th century Roman Catholic wooden image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is especially venerated in Seville, Spain. She is an image in the category of “Our Lady of Sorrows,” depicting the sadness and suffering of the mother of Jesus during the Passion Week. The sculpture with a sorrowful face and five crystal tears dates back to the late 1600s. Her grandeur and brilliance does not disappoint in person.

Hotel Alameda, our home in Sevilla

Hotel Alameda, our home in Sevilla

The interior courtyard of our hotel in Sevilla

The interior courtyard of our hotel in Sevilla

Interior of the beautiful Basilica de la Macarena

Interior of the beautiful Basilica de la Macarena

La Macarena, Seville's most popular image of Mary.

La Macarena, Seville’s most popular image of Mary.

La Macarena, a.k.a., the "Weeping Virgin" for the five crystal teardrops cascading down her face.

La Macarena, a.k.a., the “Weeping Virgin” for the five crystal teardrops cascading down her face.

Another look at the interior

Another look at the interior

Our evening entertainment was of the authentic Sevillian variety. Flamenco is an art form which originated in Andalusia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Seville is a hotbed of Flamenco. We chose to attend a performance at the Casa de la Memoria, a former Sephardic Jewish mansion which now hosts one of the most authentic flamenco demonstrations in the city. We were mesmerized by the excellent guitarist and the wonderful dancers and singers. Flamenco is intense! We sat right in front of the stage and cold feel the passion and the heightened state of emotion and expression — the soul (“duende”) — of the performers. Wow!

My dates for a night of Flamenco

My dates for a night of Flamenco

Flamenco at La Casa de la Memoria

Flamenco at La Casa de la Memoria

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We finished our evening with Tapas at a restaurant just off the Alameda. After an excellent meal we retired to our hotel.

Walking back to the hotel afterwards

Walking back to the hotel afterwards

Tapas joint in Sevilla

Tapas joint in Sevilla

Great tapas after the Flamenco show

Great tapas after the Flamenco show

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