Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Church-hopping in Cordoba

A sad fact is that one thing gone wrong eassily pushes into action an entire chain of failures. As we discovered. Waking up too late leads to setting off too late. Which leads into arriving at Benalmadena train station too late. Which leads to missing the train to Malaga. And as a result of that, missing the only daily train to El Chorro. And so one finds herself staring at the lights of that said train wondering what to do with one's day after all...

We had meant to go to ferìa in Cordoba the following weekend, but as our plans unexpectedly changed, we decided to board the next train to Cordoba instead. And in less than an hour the bullet train had transported us to the capital of the ancient caliphate.

During the Arab conquerors Cordoba was a very significant place and the centre of culture and education. Many important scholars, including Maimonides, one of the greatest halachic authorities in Judaism, studied here. In the 10th century Cordoba was estimated to be the most populated city in the world.

The most famous place in Cordoba is the Cathedral. Initially the location hosted a church that during the Islamic period was destroyed and replaced with a mosque. As Spain, under King Ferdinand III, reclaimed Cordoba during the Reconquista, the mosque was sanctified for Christian use.

Its architecture is one of the greatest works of art of its time, for which the altars and other Christian elements add...well, their very unique touch.


Building of the mosque, or Mezquita, as it's known, was started in 785 and it was added on and extended during four rulers. These days it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Is anyone else overcome by uncontrollable craving for candy canes?

Owing to its history and grand architecture Mezquita is a popular destination for both Christian and Muslim tourists. The architecture tempted me to visit the place too, though I normally steer clear from religious sightseeing.

I simply don't feel comfortable snapping away in a place where others come to feel closer to their God. In India I felt further than ever from finding myself as I found myself queuing to the souvenir shop in a temple where people all over to world flocked to just to see a glimpse of His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Sri Prabhupada, the founder of Hare Krishna movement (yes, I saw him. And still today I'm not entirely sure if he was asleep or dead on his mat...)

As I observed the fellow visitors I found myself pondering things the political correctness of which I myself am not sure about. Though not a Christian, a trip to Hagia Sofia in Istanbul filled me with discomfort - I couldn't warm to the idea that a site holy to one religion has been hijacked by another. In here I found myself wondering what kind of thoughts this mosque converted to a church evoked in, say, these visitors?

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