Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spanish Vacation

We have just returned from a 5 week vacation to Spain and Portugal, and needless to say, we had a wonderful time.

We started off on April 14th in Madrid. It was freezing cold, much to our surprise. Spring came late to Spain this year. We spent two days in Madrid in order to overcome any jet lag before heading off to other parts of Spain.

Despite the cold, we had a lot of fun walking around Madrid those first two days.

Plaza Mayor, Spain's main plaza

The Royal Palace

Some of Madrid's beautiful architecture

We then hopped on a train and headed to Cordoba, where the medieval town and the mosque of the Moors is preserved.

Spain is loaded with olive trees and we passed field after field of them on our way to Cordoba.

The mosque at Cordoba is amazing. The Muslim architecture and art is absolutely beautiful. A Christian church was constructed inside the mosque after the re-conquest. Too bad. But, you can still get the idea of what the mosque looked like when it was in its pure form.

One of the former entrances to the mosque
Inside the mosque at Cordoba
The Maghreb inside the mosque
The mosque is huge.  It was built to accommodate more then 40,000 worshipers.
Long vistas down the aisles of the mosque

Now, there is a rather substantial Christian church built inside the mosque. Masses are still held there on a regular schedule. 

After the light airiness of the Muslim architecture and design, this seemed heavy and oppressive.
In addition to the mosque, Cordoba is a medieval city with a lot of interest. Parts of the old medieval wall is still standing. And it still has the narrow, winding streets from medieval days. It was also a Roman city, and that statue you see in the foreground in this picture is of Seneca, who was from Cordoba.

Old wall with one of the old city gates
Bridge across the river with Roman foundations
Medieval streets festooned with flowers
Alcazar -  castle/fort of the Christian Kings in Cordoba
The beautiful gardens of the Alcazar
When the Spanish refer to the Christian Kings, they are talking about Ferdinand and Isabella. They had their headquarters in Cordoba until the final conquest over the Muslims in 1492. It was in Cordoba where Christopher Columbus was told by Ferdinand and Isabella that they would fund his voyages of discovery. A statue in the gardens of the Alcazar commemorates this event.

While we were in Cordoba, the weather started to gradually get warmer. Our next stop - Sevilla, where we started to enjoy the Spanish outdoor cafe life.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you both arrived home safely, and had such a spectacular time. The architecture of Madrid is most impressive. Ironically, I was just talking with my nephew last night about his year in Spain. While he was primarily living in Barcelona; he was really impressed with Madrid, Cordova, San Sebastion, and I forget one other place. Looking forward to your next installment and getting together with you both and with Nancy and Chuck when they also return from the states and do some perspective comparisons on your respective travels. Jim Mola