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Friday, December 11, 2015

La Mesquita de Cordoba

Cordoba was the capital of the Muslim Empire in the Iberian Peninsula (that today, comprises Spain, Portugal and Andorra). At a time when Europe was mired in the Dark Ages with fiefdoms waging war on each other, Cordoba was the New York / London / Paris of the civilised world. Nowhere else in Europe could one find a city so learned, so advanced in Science and Mathematics, so tolerant for different religions and so gracious.

It had sculpted gardens of palms and orange trees, with fountains that brought fresh, drinkable water from the mountains' melted snows. Then came the Christian kings, intent on conquering these lands for God. The resident Muslims, who had become soft with peace and prosperity, could not fight against the Christian invaders.

Mercenaries from North Africa's Berber tribes were hired to defend the land but these mercenaries themselves eyed these rich lands of the Iberian Peninsula for themselves. Cordoba was a prize that everyone wanted. The most peaceful, gracious and loving party lost the prize.

The mosque at Cordoba is a one and only. Within its elegant Muslim architecture rises a heavy Gothic monstrosity, like an alien growth from within the womb. The original mosque had light and ventilation. With the inclusion of the Gothic Cathedral, the interior has become dark and cold.

At least, the Christian kings did not destroy the mosque. They merely re-consecrated each stone and then built an entire cathedral inside it. So, if you close your eyes to the over-the-top Gothic structure, you can still enjoy the Cordoba Mosque.

Fountains with drinkable snow from the mountains.

Orange trees in the mosque gardens.

The original mosque with architecture that is reminiscent of Syrian palm trees. Light is cunningly incorporated into the architecture.

Right smack in the middle of the mosque is a Gothic Cathedral.

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