Feeling thoroughly inspired after our night in Ronda, Sarah and I walked to the train station the next morning to catch our ride to Cordoba. When initially planning our trip, Cordoba did not make the cut. We had planning on taking the train from Ronda to Sevilla and spending most of our day in the new city. Upon plotting our train route, I was surprised to see that Cordoba was one of the stops along the way, as such, scheming commenced to see if we could fit just one more city into our already packed schedule. Thanks to several forum users and bloggers, I realized it was indeed possible thanks to storage lockers in the bus station. So the new alternative plan proceeded as such. After boarding our train in Ronda we would get off at Cordoba, exiting the train station and walking across the street to the bus station where we could use lockers to store our luggage for the duration of our mini adventure. Entering the bus station, the token kiosk was easy to find off to the right. After obtaining the token, we followed the signs for consigna around the corner to find the lockers. For approximately 6 euros we got a locker for all day that was large enough to hold both of our carry-ons, our large handbags and our heavy coats. After unburdening ourselves from our baggage, we set out to explore on the hottest day of our trip. We set off in roughly the right direction, walking through the Jardines de la Victoria park with the goal of finding a restaurant for lunch on our 25 minute walk to Mesquita. Eventually we stumbled upon the old city wall (picture above) before wandering into the Jewish Quarter.
While wandering in the twisted streets of the Jewish Quarter Sarah and I of course quickly became lost, but we enjoyed exploring as we didn’t feel rushed for time. We had peace of mind as long as we knew we were roughly heading in the right direction for the Mezquita. Cordoba was the first part of our trip where we encountered large hoards of tourist groups. We were thankful we avoided them in Granada, but they would be a lingering presence throughout the remainder of our trip until Segovia. We spent an hour and a half to two hours in the Jewish Quarter, however perhaps half of that was spent in an adorable little coffee shop, people watching while satisfyingly sipping our cafe con leches and scandalously devouring a delightfully delicious donut. We did track down quite a few of Rick Steves’ ‘Sights of Cordoba’ such as the Artisan Market, alas only a few of the shops were open when we tracked it down as it was during the midday break. In general we loved exploring the narrow streets and white washed walls while trying to peek a glimpse of the exquisite patios hidden behind iron gates.
Bridge Gate and Roman Bridge
Eventually we rounded a corner and came upon the Triumphal Arch and Roman Bridge that were nestled at the junction of one of Mezquita’s corners. While the bridge was in no way original, having been remodeled as recent as 2009, it was interesting to cross a bridge so many rulers had deemed important throughout the ages. Looming over the entrance of the bridge was the Triumphal Arch that had been built in 1572 for the arrival of King Philip, who anticlimactically arrived prior to the construction of the large arch.
After our leisurely stroll across the Roman Bridge and back, Sarah and I hurried to the entrance of the Mezquita. You can see the outside in the bottom two photos below. The outer walls, while still impressive displayed a fairly damaged in places, however you could see where renovation projects were ongoing. Once inside we were enamored with the level of detail and the stark differences from Alhambra.
Patio de los Navajos
We loved, loved, loved this beautiful garden full of orange trees pregnant with the eye catching fruit. It was free to enter the Patio de los Navajos, however to enter the mosque turned cathedral you must purchase a ticket. Unfortunately we couldn’t but a ticket to enter the Bell Tower because it was closed in the middle of the day and we didn’t want to be pushing our train departure to Sevilla. Hyped from the beautiful garden, we were excited to see what the interior of Mezquita had in store for us!
Cathedral of Cordoba
Once inside the Cathedra of Cordoba, we were blown away by the symmetry of the red and white arches that stretched far into the distance. We spent an hour touring the inside, working through Rick Steve’s self guided walking tour, taking us from the Visigothic ruins to the breathtaking Mihrab. We abled randomly around the perimeter of this massive structure. Near the end of the tour Steves’ directs us to veer toward the center of the of the building where we will find a cathedral rising up in the middle out of the blue. As we walked forward we kept commenting that perhaps each tiny difference we were spotting was the cathedral we were seeking. Needless to say, when we did spot the stunning cathedral it was as if we’d stepped into another world. The mosque and cathedral in their very diverse styles were shocking in their stark differences. Thankfully the builders of the cathedral chose to save the artistic beauty of the mosque instead of destroying it and starting new.
After exiting the Mezquita we headed back to catch our train to Sevilla. We were thankful that we added Cordoba into our packed schedule as the beautiful arches of the Mezquita will stay with one for a lifetime. We were worried about the added stress of trying to find the lockers or feeling like we were crunched for time. We were almost giddy on our walk back as our whirlwind trip to Cordoba went exceedingly smooth and we would recommend a 4 hour layover to any other fellow travelers. At no point did we feel a time crunch and we were thoroughly enchanted by Mezquita. Let me know about your Cordoba experiences! Stay tuned next week for our adventure in stunning Sevilla!