Everyone, I think I’ve discovered my favourite cathedral in Europe.
Now, I know you’re probably sneering at the ridiculousness of that statement. After all, there are hundreds and hundreds of cathedrals clustered on this tiny continent – how could I have possibly discovered one worthy of being called my favourite?
Well, I’m not lying to you – the Cathedral of Córdoba is now my favourite, and it is truly something that all of you must see.
Well, its spellbinding uniqueness can be attributed to a symbiosis of both Muslim and Christian art because it is in fact, a Cathedral built inside of a Mosque.
If you’re wondering how this came to be, you have to understand a bit about the tumultuous history of Córdoba. While it was once part of the Roman Empire, the city was conquered by Islamic armies in the late 8th century and soon became the capital of the Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). On the grounds of the Cathedral once stood the Church of Saint Vincent, but following Córdoba’s Islamic invasion, construction began of a big, beautiful Mosque that would become the most important sanctuary of Islam in the West. Taking four stages of construction overall, the final product was a massive and beautifully intricate complex whose hypostyle prayer hall stands as a striking sea of narrow columns and bold red and white arches.
When Christian rule returned to Córdoba in 1236, they were quick to reclaim this holy space. Large open arches, once used to fill the Mosque with sunlight, became sealed off to lend as backdrops for chapels, and a Cathedral was built right in the Mosque’s centre. While starkly different from the rest of the complex, I must say, the Cathedral is breathtaking. The large Renaissance dome towers above you as you enter, flooding the area with a bright light that illuminates the gorgeous detailing found throughout the space. The marble altar and Baroque choir stalls found here are especially beautiful.
After taking in all the wonders of the Cathedral, we got a chance to enjoy a short walking tour around Córdoba. In all honesty, I could have spent hours exploring its tiny streets and courtyards, whose whitewashed facades were lined with colourful flowerpots that absolutely melted my heart. Walking through town, I realized that Córdoba offers the perfect mix of architecturally epic and adorably cute, creating a sense of charm that I find irresistible.
Last week after visiting Salamanca, I told you all that I was packing my bags and moving to Spain. Today, on my last full day on board the MS La Belle de Cadix, I can reaffirm this adamant declaration of love. The thought of leaving so soon fills me with a very heavy heart. There is truly so much to enjoy in Spain, and even with heat wave temperatures, it was able to sweep me of my feet, eagerly dreaming of my eventual return.
But as with every stop of the Photo Tour, the show must go on, so it’s time to move onto Italy – where a river cruise around the Pô and Venice area await. One thing’s for certain, I can’t wait for my reunion with Italian gelato!
Talk to you all soon from Venice,