Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cordoba mosque revisited


My second day in Cordoba was less dismal – the first day being so sad at the loss of so much history and beauty with the Cordoba mosque. Walking first across the bridge to the Tower I was able to listen to an English commentary of the historical displays relating the history and more importantly the philosophy involved in the development of Cordoba and some of its scholars. It was also fascinating to learn that Al Mesquita was itself built on an existing Visigothic church, as apparently Abdur Rahman I settled in Cordoba when it was controlled by the Visigoths who agreed to lease part of their church – including Roman ruins – to him.
As his flock grew, he bought out the remainder of the church to begin establishing the beautiful Mesquita. The fact that it was now again in the hands of Christians did not seem quite so disastrous and I was able to recognise the various stages of the building’s development as I followed the maps and stories I had purchased.

There were many small groups of toured guides explaining both the Muslim and Christian history of this site. Joining in with some of them I was able to enter chapels richly decorated with Renaissance paintings, glass casings housing historic and fabulous gold sculptures and religious icons – including giant Crucifixes carried in earlier generations through the church that were studded with crystal, rubies and emeralds amongst others. A huge case held an intricate gold creation standing at least 2 metres tall, festooned with saints, cherubs, and various other fantastic decorations. At one point all of the rafters were covered in paintings of flying cherubs. The huge Cathedral itself housed a huge organ, ancient choir stalls and enormous decorative paintings. In each of these areas, the simple Arabesque and been replaced with elaborate floral paintings and carvings, richly colourful representations of saints, former kings and queens as well as religious stories. Returning to the remaining Muslim areas, although somewhat reduced, the beauty of the original decorations and inscriptions were evident in the decorations surrounding the mihrab, the magnificent arching columns – even the fine decorative painting of the ceiling area leading up to the mihrab.

Trawling through the various markets and stalls, it was clear that the Cordobans had continued their excellent heritage in the crafting of silver, leather and precious stones. Everywhere the narrow cobbled alleys gave alluring glimpses of small courtyards, colourfully tiled, shaded but still open to the fresh sunlight. Each was a small oasis of colourful potted plants – adorning the floors and the walls, green and cool reflecting the ochre walls and bright coloured mosaics.
Although most shops and businesses are not open until 10 am, lunch time goes quiet here with shops shut and streets deserted. The few stalls open alongside Al Mesquita bake in the heat, especially as each has bright lights showing off silver jewellery, decorated pottery and various artifacts which gradually heat up their display cases. The town comes to life again after 5 pm and as I sit in the square in front of my hotel I can see crowds of shoppers, families and children joining with revellers enjoying the evening although it has been dark for more than 3 hours. Restaurants and shops are still open and crowded and will probably cease at 10 when the good folk of Cordoba finally head off to sleep.

5 comments:

Syed Tayyab Ali said...

Are you Silma Ihram?
I am just surprised to see your blog.

LenBLuce said...

wonderful..................................................

如此的 said...

We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.............................................

精采 said...

嘿,你的部落格不錯耶~~只是想跟您問聲好!!........................................

angelcalm said...

oh nice .. I hope to visit cordoba thanks alot .... jzak allah khair

brother from palestine
mi.15@live.com