The bus from Granada took me on a two hour ride to a train station at Antequerra Sta Ana, at which I had to wait forty minutes for my train to Cordoba. During the transit from Granada to Cordoba I had passed through a rain storm, but on arrival in Cordoba it was merely cloudy, so my umbrella from Istanbul still wouldn’t be getting any usage. Cordoba was the last city I would be visiting in southern Spain before returning to Madrid and then going north. After unpacking I took a walk around town, going down to the Mezquita, the river, the fort, and looping back the long way to the hostel. Cordoba’s historic core is a bit smaller than the ones in Seville or Granada, and the city as a whole gets a little less tourism than the other major towns in southern Spain. In that sense, Cordoba feels like the overlooked cousin of the major cities in southern Spain. At one time it was the leading city in nearly all of Europe. Today its glory days are long gone, but it still has a few things going for it. For dinner on my first day I did something a different in that I got a frozen pizza from a grocery store. That’s not a remarkable thing for me to do back in America, but when I travel I normally avoid buying anything that requires baking, as not all hostels have ovens in their kitchen. The hostel that I was at did have an over, and this particular pizza had Iberian ham on it, which I had never had on a pizza before, so I could justify purchasing the pizza as a new experience. Later in the night I was out and about in the city when I bought a small frozen yogurt from a chain that I had seen across Spain. Unfortunately, I accidentally ordered plain yogurt, which I think is disgusting. Still, I forced myself to eat most of it as some demented form of self punishment for my mistake.
It was an early wake up for me the next day because I planned on visiting the Mezquita during its free entry period, which is the first hour of the day that it is open. The Mezquita is a Catholic church that used to be a mosque. The mosque, in turn, was built on the site of a former Visigothic church. Normally mosques were destroyed when Spanish armies forced the Moors out of a given city, but in this case the mosque was largely maintained and added onto. The biggest remodeling that was done to the building was that in the center a section of the mosque was redone to look more like a traditional church, which means that in the middle it looks like part of a cathedral was picked up and transplanted into the building. The rest of the interior is largely the same as it was when the building was a mosque, with a forest of double arched columns. If you stand at one end of the interior, you almost get the illusion of the arches extending into infinity. Also inside, you can find the only remaining prayer niche leftover from the mosque, though interestingly it faces south, and not towards Mecca. When the free entry time ended, myself and the other tourists were ushered out of the building by the staff so that the daily mass could start. I spent a few more minutes checking out the Mezquita’s courtyard, which reminded me of the courtyard in Seville’s cathedral. When I finished up there, I went back to the hostel for breakfast and getting a few other things done. It was late morning when I set out again for the day. I had already seen Cordoba’s biggest attraction and there weren’t too many other things that I was interested in seeing, so I spent a lot of the day wandering around the city. One of the first things I came across was the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to the imperial cult. I passed through a few plazas, walked lots of roads, and came down to the river where I crossed to the south side. There’s a park along the riverside that I followed until I got to the Museum of Al-Andalus Life. The museum itself is fairly modest, but it’s in an old tower which has good view of the old city. After the museum, I crossed back to the north side of the river and near the Mezquita I stopped by the Calle de las Flores; a street lined with hanging flower pots that line up with the view of the Mezquita’s bell tower. I then walked around the western part of the old city, next to the walls. In there you can find the city’s old synagogue, which is one of only three medieval synagogues in Spain (all the others were demolished or coverted to churches when the Jews were expelled from Spain at the end of the 1400s). I did more walking in that area, slowly making my way back towards the central part of the old city, and got some decent gelato along the way. Then I returned to the hostel for a little while to check email, upload photos, and whatnot. When I headed out again I wound up back at the Roman bridge near the Mezquita and sat on a bench on the bridge and did some reading. When I was done I got up and returned to the hostel to make dinner. Nothing much happened the rest of the day, and there was now only one thing left to do before leaving Cordoba.
That last thing to do was to visit Cordoba’s Alcazar (palace) during the free entry hour in the morning. The Alcazar in Cordoba is not as good as the one in Seville, but I wasn’t going to complain since I was getting in for free. The actual palace part has very little in it, though the gardens are nice. I then returned to the hostel for breakfast and ended up chatting with some of the staff for awhile. When that was done and I was packed and checked out, I still had an hour before my train to Madrid, so I did one final walk around town. That hour passed by real quick, and I was soon back at the hostel for my backpack. I walked to the train station and caught my 1:35pm train to Madrid. My time in southern Spain was over.