When we were planning our trip to Sevilla, I knew for sure that I wanted to take a trip to Ronda. I didn't really do any research (I was busy planning our big Christmas/New Year's trip and Sevilla was kind of an afterthought, to be honest), but when we were binge-watching Rick Steves in preparation to leave for Spain back in August, he went to Ronda and I knew we had to go. Somehow, I grouped it together with Sevilla and didn't consider anywhere else. Even though our friends, our Airbnb host, and our students and their parents all gave us confused looks when we said our chosen day trip from Sevilla was Ronda, I plowed ahead.
Once in Sevilla however, we decided to play it by ear, and see if we thought we needed three full days in Sevilla, or we felt like we wanted to check out somewhere else one of the days. I didn't want to put a bunch of planning into a trip we might decide not to take, so we were just going to wing it, and see how it went.
Well, once we got there, we decided that two days in Sevilla was enough for us, and that, long story short, going to Ronda from Sevilla wasn't a stellar idea. So, we took the advice of basically everyone ever and looked into Córdoba. From the title of this post, I think you can see where we ended up going...
The train from Sevilla was effortless and only took about an hour! We got off the train, took about 20 steps and thought, yes, this was a good choice.
D - It's always kind of strange visiting a place when you don't really know what to expect, and that's definitely how things were for me with Córdoba. Though I guess it's a pretty big tourist attraction in Spain, I had only heard of the town basically the night before we went. That being said, it's not a bad kind of strange necessarily, but rather the opposite, because it 1) pushes me out of my comfort zone and 2) allows me to form my own thoughts and opinions on places before hearing what others think. I think sometimes it can just be so difficult to give up control and go with the flow and enjoy life, but it can also be well worth it as illustrated from our time in Córdoba.
Lots more orange trees? Danny had been wondering about trying the oranges, and I said that I'd heard they're not very good (for eating), but they're just so beautiful and hard to resist, so he decided this was as good a time as any. He gave it a (sticky and messy) try and realized why we hadn't seen anyone else eating them in Sevilla or Córdoba. Now we know!
D - In my defense, the orange trees should really come with some kind of warning label.
We kept walking into the more central part of town, hoping to find the Mezquita so we could see it first. But the streets on the way were just so charming!
We found the Mezquita no problem - it's Córdoba's main site, and I just feel like I have to warn you now - we were there about two months ago, and we're still talking about it. For some reason, we just fell hard for the Mezquita, and so pardon us if we use the blog as another outlet of sharing our love for this unique place. It just really captured us both, and we think it's pretty special.
The Mezquita (I'm calling it that here, although it also goes by the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, or Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba) has quite the history. Currently, it's a Catholic cathedral, but it's primarily recognized as an important site for visitors because of its Moorish architecture.
It was built by the Visigoths as a Catholic church in the 600s, but when the Muslims conquered Spain, it was divided into Muslim and Christian halves in 711. This arrangement lasted until 784, when the Christian half was demolished and the entire site was made into a mosque. In 1236, Córdoba returned to Christian rule under the Reconquista, the building was converted to a Catholic church again, and a cathedral was inserted into the middle of the mosque in the 1500s.
The existence of both styles, Moorish and Renaissance, and two faiths, Christian and Islam, alongside each other is so unusual and being that we had done so little research before our trip to Córdoba, we were so pleasantly surprised by it all.
We really thought that that was all. Until we turned a corner and were surprised by BAM! cathedral. And then more mosque. So cool!
D - Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge cathedral guy. Besides how I disagree with them conceptually and theologically, many cathedrals tend to blend together in my mind because they all feel so similar, but the Mezquita really is unique. It's definitely become one of my favorite cathedrals in the world. That is not even an exaggeration. The cathedral just rises right out of the middle of the old mosque, and really does seem to come out of nowhere. Also, I have found from my time in Europe that I really like the fancy-schmancy baroque style of architecture and decor (which the Mezquita features) over other classical styles. Also, the cathedral just feels really bright which is rare in my experience.
After the Mezquita, we walked across the Guadalquivir River on the Roman bridge. The bridge was built in the 1st century by the Romans, and is really beautiful. We weren't there at the prettiest time of year, and the river wasn't really rushing, but we loved being outside, especially without many layers on, in January!
Next stop: lunch. Sometimes we are bad about stopping at reasonable times for lunch when we're out and about seeing things, especially because it can be hard to find tasty, healthy, and decently priced food when traveling. We ended up at a great place called Taberna Bocaito Andalusi, a little hole in the wall Moroccan place where the tables were outside and we were served by the cook/waiter/disher washer/owner.
Sometimes you pay exactly what you want to for lunch (usually my max is 10€ for the both of us for a quick meal) and you just get average food and sometimes you get awesome food (see: Milk Away in Sevilla). Sometimes you pay a few euros more and it's so worth it. That happened in Córdoba, and we were so glad. (And now I really, really want to go to Morocco.)
D - Man, this food was so, so good. Nothing feels better (to me, at least) than being surprised by great food. The breaded eggplant (pictured immediately below), was especially scrumptious! I would definitely highly recommend this place, which I think certainly classifies as hole-in-the-wall.
We finished our afternoon in Córdoba by walking to the Triumphal Arch and along a few more streets, including the Calleja de los Flores, or the Street of Flowers.
Calleja de los Flores, well, I think it depends on when you're there (season-wise), as well as time of day. When we first entered the narrow, short, white street, I was unimpressed. Not many flowers, hordes of tourists, and not much to see? Well, it all combined to create a not-so-nice experience. However, once we waited for a few minutes, things cleared out, and we nearly had the place to ourselves. I'm sure it looks much more green and colorful right now (or will in a few more weeks), as we were there in January, so perhaps we can return some day. I hear May is one of the best times to visit Córdoba.
And that, my friends, is Córdoba, or at least how we did it in a day. We headed back to Sevilla in the mid-afternoon and spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday there (check out our time there here). We were so glad we took all the advice and checked out Córdoba - it was so sunny and surprising and we so enjoyed exploring the town and, most especially, the Mezquita.