From the low point of trying to get some shade while meandering around the Guadalquivir, things started getting better. I started meandering around the Juderia, which is genuinely lovely (and has plenty of shade). After this, Albaicin and Montjuïc, I’m beginning to re-assess my hasty judgements against ethnic cleansing. Still doubtless A Bad Thing, but clouds and silver linings and all that it seems to have architectural benefits.
The Juderia and other parts of the city were also brightened up by it being part of Cordoba’s patio festival. Now, you may think that patios are not much of a subject for a festival, but in this part of Andalucia people deal with a climate that is not conducive to gardens by decorating the entrance courtyard to their houses with flowers, plants and seemingly any shiny tat they can get their hands on. During the festival, they trhow open their front doors and invite the public in to admire them. The combination of flowers and snooping on your neighbours makes this an ideal festival for middle aged, middle-class Britons, and I’m staggered we have no imitators back home. It does look very pretty, but ultimately its only a minor adornment on the old town which, more relaxed, I now see is extremely attractive. More than once I’ve entered plazas and thought “wow, that’s gorgeous” only to realise that I went through it 5 hours earlier, cursing the lack of signs.
I’m now on the rooftop terrace, in a pleasantly cool dusk, admiring the illuminated Mezquita tower and eating strawberries. Life is good.
Next up is the Mezquita, and a majestic building it is too. Originally built as a mosque, when Cordoba was the leading Moorish city, it’s most striking features are the bits that remain in from the original design. After the reconquista, it was transformed into a Cathedral, with some of the periphery being modified and a whole new edifice built in the centre. It doesn’t quite match up but it’s not bad. When Charles V, who had ordered the conversion, site unseen, saw the finished product he apparently told the architect “in order to create an ordinary building you have destroyed an unique one.” While Charles was probably right, it does suggest he was rather a tough bloke to please.