Córdoba: The First City of Religious Acceptance and you didn't even know it, did you?

From a state of vagabonderysleeping on couches, sleeping bagged-nights, working for daily rations, and hardly knowing where our next stop would bewe were swept up by angels into a life that resembled what I seem to recall real vacations are supposed to be like. Prearranged train tickets, hotel rooms, reserved dinners...that was life for a short while.
Something about seeing this huge baby head in Madrid let us know that it was time to take a group picture...John's dad, mom, grandma, sister, and brother-in-law, hoorah!
As I sit here on a bed in Madrid in a tiny room with dimensions, literally, of about 7x7, I look at John and wonder if it was all a dream.

Most people assume that this trip we embarked on nearly a year ago has all been a big vacation, and I can't deny that it's certainly been easier than a nine-five in an office, but moving around every couple of weeks can be exhausting in its own right. Rootless and filled with uncertainty. I see (but barely) how a "real" job has its merits.

And so in came the Amorys with their boundless reserve of generosity, lifting John and me into a world where things were planned, life was consistent, and ah, living was easy.

Whirlwind that it was, I found myself "off-duty" much of the time, just soaking things in, letting them float through me as I was lead through some of Southern Spain's most beautiful towns.
Looking toward the Fortress of the Catholic Kings (La Alcazar de los Reyes Catolicos) in Córdoba
Our last southern Spanish sojourn, after lively Granada and austere Ronda, was Córdoba, a townthe locals will explainthat is the birthplace of harmony between three of the world's major religions: Christianity, Judaism  and Islam. Considering that Córdoba has probably been off the radar for most of you, you'll be surprised the learn that in the 10th century, it was the most populous city in the world, and not only that, it was one of the biggest intellectual hubs of its time.
Entering La Mezquita, the great Mosque and Cathedral of Córdoba
Geographically impressive is the additional fact that the city was under Islamic rule at the time, a sovereign that was notably tolerant toward the local Jews and Christians. The evidence is everywhere, from the still-intact Jewish quarter, to the huge mosque in the middle of town, and then to the adjacent Fortress of the Catholic Kings.
Looking in upon a quaint street in the Jewish Quarter
Some Christian relics under traditional Islamic architecture
The gardens of La Alcazar de los Reyes Catolicos
 
Ol' Chris Columbus talking to the King and Queen about getting some money for you know what...
Now for a history lesson: The mosque I just mentioned is kind of a big deal.

Although the building was begun in 600 AD as a Christian church, it was purchased by an Islamic prince in 784 AD and then underwent about 200 years of construction to reach completion as a mosque. An architectural marvel in its own right, it gains further renown because when the Christians decided to usurp Muslim power in 1236 during King Ferdinand's efforts at that tireless Reconquista, rather than tear down the mosque, they simply decided to build a cathedral directly within it. Why waste a good foundation?
The Baroque organ and altar in the midst of the mosque
And while we love to view the dual-construction these days in the more subtle light of "mutual religious respect," it's really just a phenomenally beautiful and inspiring relic of Christian oppression (but hey history, what's new?).
Viewing the Catholic altar through the surrounding Islamic architecture.
That cherub wants nothingto do with the grinning lion. What's he doing in a church anyway?
The thing is, I could fill this post up with pictures, but for the sake of minimized uploading, let's just head over the the Chowgypsy Facebook Album, shall we?
Endless peppermint arches within the great mosque....a final picture to send you on your way to Chowgypsy Facebook

In a few days we're headed to La Catedral de Justo just outside of Madrid to do some volunteer construction work and get some fresh air away from the city, stay tuned!

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