Back to Sevilla, via the city of Cordoba, where we spent the afternoon visiting another Moorish monument, the Mezquita. The Mezquita, (from Arabic ãÓÌÏ "Masjid"), is Spanish for mosque. Córdoba's mosque is one of the earliest and most transportingly beautiful examples of Spanish Muslim architecture. The site is older than the building, having been host to a Roman pagan temple, the Visigothic cathedral church of St Vincent, and finally the Mezquita itself.
Begun in the eighth century by Abd a-Rahman I, over the following two centuries the Moors enlarged and enhanced La Mezquita into a vast, magnificent house of worship. They creatively used a variety of architectural styles including Persian, Middle Eastern Islamic, Roman and Gothic, that together helped define Moorish architecture. The interior of the building is a myriad of row upon row of beautiful columns and horseshoe-shaped arches.
The Christians recaptured Cordoba in the 13th century and promptly consecrated the edifice as a church but left much of the superb Moor-erected architecture intact. The most significant alteration was the construction of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the structure. It was constructed by permission of Carlos V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain; though once he saw what had been built, he is said to have expressed his dismay with the words, "You have built what you or others might have built anywhere, but you have destroyed something unique in the world." However, the addition of the cathedral nave is believed to have reinforced the edifice's structural stability, and its consecration as a Christian church may have helped to preserve it when the Spanish Inquisition was most active.Today, the building is peacefully divided between Muslims and Catholics (who still use the bizarrely situated cathedral).
Interior views of the Mezquita: The inside of Cordoba's Mezquita is a forest of red-and-white striped columns, glittering walls and ceilings... and a Baroque cathedral plunked right in the middle!
We arrived back in Sevilla in time for dinner – and decided to make the most of our final evening by holding the very last SSLC meeting of the year – the venue proved much better than the Sociology Common Room or the GRSR - the tapas bar opposite our hotel which we took over for the evening. (A very wise choice of location as it meant that we only had to stumble across the alleyway to our beds!)
As was to be expected, not much SSLC business was conducted, but as it was our final evening, we had a great deal of fun, thanks to Juan-Pedro, the barman-cum-host, who courageously agreed to supply us with wine, beer and food for the evening. We had a team quiz to test students’ knowledge of Andalusian culture, which was won by the “clever team”. Hazel and Amar entertained us with their newly-acquired flamenco skills. The students kindly presented staff with souvenirs of the visit, and we were really touched by this gesture.