Architecture Vignettes

Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba

I walked into darkness in contrast to the brightness of the sun outside. Despite the gloomy lack of light, I felt the enormity of the space. Endless space. The ceiling held up by arches, red and white, repeating arch after arch after arch. Here and there the arch pattern disrupted. No obvious reason why. Probably because the building was built spanning centuries of time. Additions extending the space yet even larger. More columns; more arches.

The space felt sacred. Felt breathable. Felt warm and comfortable. Nonetheless, I felt stressed about shooting photos in the quasi darkness with my point and shoot camera. I felt stressed by the crowd of people in the building. Yet, I wanted to stay forever. However hopeless the logistics of staying forever would be. I wandered amongst the columns, snapping photos, mostly aimed at the arches.

Then I got to the middle. I knew from architectural history class that the Mezquita was built as a mosque, and that the Christians (after they re-conquered Spain and evicted the Arabs) built a cathedral in the middle of the mosque, but I had no idea that the cathedral was so beautiful. Happy that the mosque was not totally destroyed; I was stunned by the cathedral. Here pews were provided for sitting. And extra folding chairs, too. Every seat occupied. Here, in the dazzling whiteness of the cathedral sat the visitors to the Mezquita. The mosque was black and murky – seductively black and murky. The cathedral was white and lightness and art and powerful.

I wandered around, snapping more photos. Wishing for an empty seat. How long could I sit here, if I could sit? I had day-tripped here from further south along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, and needed to catch the train back. I eventually tore myself away and staggered back outside into the blinding sun.

Outside the mosque was the traditional Arab garden. Skinny grooves for water to flow along to water the trees. Rocks being moved about to let the water flow along one grooved path or another. An ancient tree remained.

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