The early rousal was hard on us vacationers, having fallen, as we certainly have, into the rhythms of life-in-Spain, but we were so glad we did! We caught a taxi at 7 and got ourselves to the train station for an 8 a.m. train to Cordoba and found ourselves at the Mezquita shortly after 9 - and quite ahead of the crowds that by 11 were pressing through the narrow streets, entrances, and assorted venues of the city!
What an awe-inspiring place! From the moment you enter, you feel drawn into something sacred... And the longer you stay, the deeper and deeper the draw (until it becomes so peopled that it loses that sense - but we were early, and could breathe in the vastness of its space and feel ourselves getting lost in it, absorbed by it...).
Although it is a Roman Catholic Cathedral, with multiple side chapels, and even a Mass going on (broadcast throughout, and the music quite beautiful) the Christian presence seems dwarfed by the Muslim... In fact" being here (in Southern Spain) we feel surrounded by ghosts: the remains of a Visigoth church beneath the foundations of the Mezquita itself, and the Catholic imposed on the Muslim, converting minaret to bell tower, and erecting altars in prayer spaces...
We spent the afternoon wandering the old Jewish Quarter, visiting an 11th century synagogue and a Sephardic museum, as well as superstitiously touching the foot of Maimonides for a measure of wisdom (I touched twice, like Elisha wanting a double portion of Elijah's spirit!)... More ghosts... And, of course, they are resident in our hotel as well: Las Casas de la Juderia... What happened to the owners of these Casas, I ask myself?...
Sangria time... And then a rest in our room in the appropriately-named "Casa de los Escribiantes" - the House of the Writers! - before we move languidly into the streets for a last night of Spanish soul!
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