Sometimes judging a book by its cover can be a good thing, as it opens you up to things that you otherwise would have ignored. Whilst planning a trip to the southern Spanish cities of Madrid, Seville, Malaga and Granada, a came across a smaller city lying at the cross roads of these cities called Cordoba that appeared to serve as the perfect base for my explorations. A quick google image search soon had me convinced that a stay in Cordoba needed to be written in to my itinerary, as I was bombarded with images of the byzantine arches of the Mosque-Cathedral. Although I was originally drawn to the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba via the hypnotizing aesthetics, I soon discovered that its beauty ran far deeper.
Beginning as a catholic church, the site was converted to a mosque after the muslims conquered Spain in the 8th century A.D. Another 8 centuries later, the site was once again converted back to a renaissance cathedral under Roman Catholic rule. Today, the site stands as a holy site for people of both religions, and accordingly as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a physical analogy for the beauty that can result from the union of two conflicting things, as the byzantine arches representative of the mosque are highlighted through their juxtaposition with the stained glass windows and neo-gothic architecture representative of the cathedral - and vice versa. As I peered beneath the picturesque byzantine cover of the Mosque-Cathedral that google image had presented to me, I found a novel longer and more enticing than any Game of Thrones novel.
How to get here:
Cordoba is conveniently located at the intersection between Madrid, Seville and Malaga and can accordingly be easily reached via a RENFE train from any of these locations in under 2 hours. The Mosque-Cathedral itself is an easy-but-no-so-breezy 20 minute walk through the laneways of the town centre. The exterior facade of the site, as well as the Roman bridge of Cordoba located a few minutes further south, are also worth setting some time aside to appreciate whilst you are in the area. Beware if you are planning a Monday visit though as basically everywhere but the Mosque-Cathedral and the major fast food chains will be closed.