El Camino Conduce El Sur – Cordoba and through the land of Don Quixote – by Trevor Leeden

by Patty Ryan posted on 9 April 2014

Trever Leeden (“Lord L”) concludes the family journey through Spain’s southern region with a  final stop in one of Spain’s jewels–the city of Cordoba. He also finds his spiritual home in Castilla La Mancha, the home of  Don Quixote (“The Man of La Mancha”) and its famous windmills

It’s pouring on our last day, but it doesn’t matter because Los Patios Hotel is literally directly across the street from our destination. Brekky and then a quick dash to the other side of the street finds us standing in one of the jewels of SpainLa Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba. Just as Sevilla Cathedral WILL take your breath away, the Mezquita will make your eyes pop out. We haven’t seen anything like it, nor, I suspect will we again. Cordoba was once the most important and beautiful city in Europe, awash in cathedrals, places and bath houses. The mezquita was originally the Visigoth Saint Vincent Basilica built in the 6th Century. The Moors built their mosque on top of it in 786AD. The Reconquest saw Christianity restored and in the 16th Century a complete Renaissance Cathedral was built INSIDE the mosque. The main hall of the Mezquita is made up of more than 800 marble, jasper and granite columns, supporting 400 red and white horseshoe arches. The thing is, you don’t need to have a faith to appreciate the magnificence of the Mezquita, or any other cathedral we have visited; they are simply extraordinary creations.

La Mezquita in Cordoba
La Mezquita in Cordoba
Tower of the Mezquita
Tower of the Mezquita
Mosaic Walls the Mezquita
Mosaic Walls of the Mezquita

 

Cathedral within a mosque
Cathedral within a mosque

 

Arches of the Mezquita
The famous arches of the Mezquita

 

Afterwards, we wander along the bank of the Rio Guadalquivir to see the Alcazar (the orange groves were magnificent) and the Roman bridge which dates back to 1BC. We find a funky cafe in the old Jewish quarter and then stroll the old part of the city less frequented by tourists (the hotel manager pointed us in the right direction). It was fascinating winding through the narrow alleyways and past the distinctly coloured buildings (white and mustard). Dinner was once again under the watchful eye of a mounted el toro whilst 2 musicians performed an off key flamenco routine (I’ve never heard flamenco played on keyboards before!!!). Our trip has drawn to a close, it’s time to head home.

walking through orange groves
Walking through orange groves in the Alcazar
orange groves
Beautiful orange groves
Roman Bridge panoramic
The Roman Bridge

 

We drive home via Ciudad Real, in the heart of LA MANCHA (Don L’s spiritual home!!). There’s a Don Quixote museum here but we’re too wet and freezing to find it – next time. The countryside is superb along the way, we traverse the ubiquitous olive groves and also come across the first pig farm we have seen in Spain. We don’t see many but they’re grazing amongst acorn tree groves (this is significant, given the very particular characteristics of Iberica Jamon). We also spot our first couple of Spanish windmills, albeit in ruins, and I’m tempted to get out my jousting stick and point Rocinante in their direction. Windmills are few and far between but I know they exist in better condition than these, so we shall be back to find them. For us, getting out and about and not taking for granted this spectacular country is what it’s all about. When you think you’ve seen it all, then just look around the bend………

the Windmills of Castilla La Mancha
The Windmills of Castilla La Mancha
Olive Oil Vista
The view on the ride back to Madrid
Olive Oil Country
Spain, the land of olive groves