Written by: Callie Nairus (Session 1)

Córdoba was our first stop on our six-day trip to the South of Spain. Our first impressions were hindered by the downpour of rain that greeted us as we got off the train from Madrid, but after taking a few hours to recover in our beautiful hostel, we were ready to explore the city. Donning rain jackets and umbrellas and hopeful for some sun, we first visited the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. The palace’s beautiful mosaics and fountain-filled gardens veil its dark history. Formerly inhabited by Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon, the fortress was the site of Catholic monarchs’ planning for the reconquest of Granada and where they granted Columbus permission for his expedition to India. Nearby the Alcazar was the Judería de Córdoba, where we visited the Córdoba Synagogue, one of three medieval synagogues left in Spain. Jews could practice their faith under the Muslim rule of Spain, but the building became a hospital when they were expelled by the Catholic monarchs in 1492. While exploring, we were struck by the architectural contrast from the streets of Madrid we were used to: Córdoba’s white buildings with floral accents made us feel like we had been transported to Greece.

The following day we were lucky to see the sun again with no rain in sight. We started the day at the Palacio de Viana, a medieval palace surrounded by twelve gorgeous patios filled with greenery and colorful flowers decorated with mosaics and paintings. After, we went to our most anticipated stop: the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. Its combination of Islamic and Christian architecture captivated us after learning about the conquests and reconquests of Spain over the past several weeks. The structure was originally a mosque until the Christian Reconquests, during which Christian elements were added to convert it into a Cathedral. As a result, a Renaissance-style Cathedral sits at the center of the building, surrounded by red and white Islamic horseshoe arches. After admiring the mosque for several hours, we ended our day with a lighthearted olive oil tasting. We learned about different types of olive oil and their uses, ending with us all buying olive oil to bring home to our families. After two great days in Córdoba, we were ready to continue exploring the South of Spain. 

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