July 11, 2013

0732, 0733 SPAIN (Andalusia) - Historic Centre of Córdoba (UNESCO WHS)

0732 The Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir and
the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, Córdoba was mentioned for the first time in relation with the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca (father of Hannibal), who renamed the settlement Kartuba, from Kart-Juba ("the City of Juba", a Numidian commander who had died in a battle nearby). In Roman times, but also under Byzantine Empire, and under the Visigoths, it was an important city, but it experienced its golden period under the Moors. Conquered in 711 by a Muslim army, it become firstly the capital of the independent Muslim emirate of al-Andalus, later a Caliphate itself.

0733 Interior of Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

During the caliphate apogee (1000 AD), Córdoba was one of the the most populous and advanced cities in the world, as well as a great cultural, political, financial and economic centre. In the next centuries it fell into a steady decline, continued also after it was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile, during the Spanish Reconquista (1236), only in the 20th century knowing a certain recovery. Today, Córdoba has the second largest Old town in Europe, the largest urban area in the world declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO (in 1984, with extension in 1994).

The most important building and symbol of the city, the Great Mosque of Córdoba (transformed in cathedral in 1236 by Ferdinand III), alongside the Roman bridge, are the best known facet of the city. Abd-al-Rahman I began to build the Great Mosque in 786, on the site of a Roman temple of Janus which had been converted into a church by the Visigoths, with the intention of creating a structure that outshone the mosque of Damascus. Work on it continued over the two succeeding centuries, and today it is regarded as the one of the most accomplished monuments of Renaissance and Moorish architecture.

Some amazing architectural aspects of it include its columns which total 856 (1.200 by other sources) of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite, double arch columns that allowed the ceiling to be heightened (a new introduction to architecture), the continuous interior feel, and its two domes. In the second postcard is the richly gilded mihrab, a niche in the wall which identifies the qibla, the wall that faces Mecca, very important for prayer. Even if it's small in relation to the rest of the building, it is exquisitely beautiful. In front of, and leading to the mihrab, is an equally beautiful, enclosed area called the maqsura, reserved for the ruler and his family.

The Roman bridge was built in the early 1st century BC, and today has 16 arcades, one less than original ones, and a total length of 247m. The Via Augusta, which connected Rome to Cádiz, most likely passed through it. During the Islamic domination, the Calahorra Tower and the Puerta del Puente were built at the bridge's southern and northern ends (Puerta del Puente can be seen in the postcard, at the far end of the bridge). During its history, the bridge was restored several times, and now only the 14th and 15th arches are original. 

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba - Wikipedia
Historic Centre of Cordoba - UNESCO official website
Inside the Great Mosque of Córdoba, Spain - Spain Then and Now 

Sender 0732, 0733: Ana
Sent from ? (Spain), on 19.04.2013
Photo 0732: A.J. Gonzalez
Photo 0733: Angel Olivares

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