Friday, January 11, 2008
Since we had three days we decided to also visit Cordoba, a bit further south, and halfway on the road to Granada. It's a bigger place than Toledo, and home to The mezquita, a huge mosque that was later converted into a catholic cathedral.
The old centre of Cordoba is also quite a labyrinth, and I had booked a hotel close to the Mezquita. I guess we were lucky to find it on our third try only, because it's very easy to get lost in that area (well, quite fun too). The hotel was lovely, I very much recommend it. And you can leave your car parked and just explore the city on foot.
Contrary to the fog and clouds we had got in Toledo, Cordoba was all about sunshine and the most amazing winter light. It is my favorite time of the year for taking photos, everything is so clear and crisp.
Our first visit the next morning was the mezquita. A useful tip we learnt quite by chance: if you arrive before 10:00 you can enter for free (except for tours and large gorups) and it's actually the best time because you don't get all the crowds. The dome was being renovated, but even with the works being done the mezquita is quite impressive.
After that we went to the nearby Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. You can climb up one of the towers for a nice view of the city, and the interior is worth a quick visit (especially the mosaics room) but it's the gardens that catch your eye.
Finally, before lunch and heading back home we stopped by the ruins of Madinat al-Zhara, located about 5km outside the city. It's an amazing site, and still there's so much to explore there (only about 10 percent of the site has been excavated).
We really enjoyed Toledo, but Cordoba took my breath away. It's now on my top list of favourite places in Spain, along with Granada, Segovia, Salamanca, Barcelona and Picos de Europa.
(By the way, thanks to everyone who recommended Aranjuez for this trip, I had planned to go but it was a bit out of the way and we decided to spend more time in Cordoba this time. It's on my list for next time though)
More photos here