Christmas in Córdoba, Spain – Explore the Stunning Columns of the Mezquita

There were more than 1,000 mosques in Córdoba during the 10th century and the Mezquita was the most magnificent of them all. More than half a million worshippers prayed alongside the jasper, marble and granite columns that fanned out like a grove of orange trees.

Military Spouse in Cordoba

We headed to Cordoba the following evening, a few days before Christmas, on our Spanish adventure. The drive took less than two hours through rolling hills covered with the twisted trunks of thousand-year-old olive trees, hinting at the Mezquita we’d explore later. I loved the cool, dry air. It was slightly warmer than the day before, but the sunshine was unbelievable! I would have paid a fortune for this sunshine back in Germany. We were extremely excited about spending Christmas in Cordoba, Spain.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

Cordoba and the Mezquita

The Mosque, Cathedral, and McDonalds

Cordoba ended up being my absolute favorite city in Andalusia. I loved the compact size and proximity of everything. The old center was vibrant and colorful and safe. My kids were free to wander between the McDonalds and the Pizza Hut. They were in heaven. But Steven and I ate great tapas and cheap wine every evening and enjoyed flamenco and the beautiful floral courtyards.

The Ancient City of Cordoba 

It was a lot smaller than any of the other cities we visited. The historic core was no exception. The three days we spent exploring its narrow streets, no bigger than alleyways, were memorable because we had tapas in the same restaurants every night, making friends with the locals.

Our hotel was located in the city center, directly in front of the Mezquita.

The streets in the old town were nearly impossible to navigate by car. The GPS was of absolutely no use with all the one way, abrupt dead ends, pedestrian zones, and streets just wide enough for our miniature car to pass. We checked in and headed for a patio restaurant that was recommended by the hotel staff. It was perfect.

After lunch, we strolled across the Roman Bridge built in 1 AD that had fallen into disrepair before the Moors conquest of the city. It now stands as a testament to the Moors’ respect and appreciation for the Roman monuments that preceded their arrival.

After breakfast the next day, we visited the Mezquita and the Alcazar, a few blocks away.

The Mezquita

The Mezquita was, after Mecca, one of the most revered sites in the Muslim world. It was begun as a pagan temple and converted into a Visigothic church in 600. Later in an unprecedented move, the Muslims purchased half of the building and in 784, began building, and for a brief time, Christians and Muslims prayed side by side without incident.

There were more than 1,000 mosques in Córdoba during the 10th century and the Mezquita was the most magnificent of them all. More than half a million worshippers prayed alongside the jasper, marble, and granite columns that fanned out like a grove of orange trees.

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

We stood in the shade of columns, shifting back and forth, and delighting in each new open pathway through them.

An act of reprisal by the Spanish Monarchy made the mosque the oddity that it is today. After the reconquest in 1236, the mosque in the Cordoba mosque was gutted. More than 430 columns were removed from its belly to make room for the very large Catholic Cathedral that currently occupies its center hall. The outer doors were sealed, Muslims were forbidden prayer rights, the minaret was converted into a tower and the huge dome, now part of the city’s skyline, was built.

The Moorish Influence

The days of religious freedom were over. And the Moors that remained were either deported or forced to convert to Catholicism. However, the legacy of their language and ingenious architecture carries on.

More than 4,000 Arabic words and phrases have been absorbed into the Spanish language, most notably words beginning with “al,” such as algebra, alcohol, and alkaline. Checkmate, influenza, typhoon, and cable can be traced back to Arabic origins.

The Alcazar

The Alcazar, or Royal Palace, is another prime example of the Moors’s influence on the Spanish people. However, it was built long after the Moors were defeated by a Christian King in 1327. The palace features ponds and water features, gardens, and a bathhouse typically found in Muslim palaces.

Today, it’s a quiet place to sit and enjoy nature, breathe in the refreshing aromatic plants, and bask in the abundant sunlight or shade found under the orange trees that line the reflecting pool.

Four Nights, Three Days

Was Not Long Enough

What we loved about Christmas in Córdoba, Spain, was initially promoted to us as a drawback. “It’s so small,” said one hotel staffer in Granada. However, that was a welcome deviation from the big cities of Granada and Seville. We were able to traverse the whole of Córdoba in two full days. It didn’t take long to feel like “regulars” at restaurants and tapas bars. We had front-row seats at a flamenco show and felt comfortable letting our kids get gelato on their own while we rested our cobblestone-weary feet in the shade of our hotel courtyard. Christmas was amazing, but spending any time in Córdoba, Spain, is amazing.

A Night of Flamenco

Three days and two nights in Córdoba during Christmas wasn’t enough, but we had to get on the road to Seville.  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. and that’s where we want to be.

Cordoba is also where we saw our first live flamenco show.  And we’ve been hooked ever since. Nina was perfection in the red and back fringe. I was even coaxed out of my seat to give it a try.

The city is dotted with secluded patios covered in cascading potted flowers. Some of the patios were still open to the public as we just missed the annual competition.

Where We Stayed for Christmas in Cordoba Spain

The Hotel Eurostars Maimonides in Cordoba faces the Grand Mosque in the heart of the Jewish Quarter.  However, it’s walking distance to everything we wanted to see in Cordoba , including the Palace and Roman Bridge. And the price is just right, inexpensive enough to splurge for two rooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from duffel bag spouse travels

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading