Yesterday I returned to La Juderia to get a sense of the other voices here in Cordoba. I started at the Alcazar de Los Reyes Christianos, a palace along the river where, I am told, Ferdinand and Isabella planned the explor/exploitation of the Americas.
Lots of postcard views of a lovely garden, full of lemon, lime, and orange trees. The palace itself dates to the thirteenth century, but it was built on Roman and Arabic ruins. You know what they say about castles: location, location, location.
So, the castle was home to the Spanish Inquisition (which no one, of course, expects), and nearby there is a torture museum, which I took a pass on. I hung out at the castle for a while, checked out the remains of the hammam (Arab baths- more on that later) and generally gaped at the pieces of antiquity. This is the hammam ceiling:
And this is some stuff the Visigoths left lying around.
Up the street to one of only a few synagogues left in Spain from the medieval era, and it is tiny. I paid my respects to the philosopher Maimonides, and tipped the quite excellent guitarist who was ignored by two enormous tour groups.
Three little images from the synagogue. Formatting is clunky as I can’t figure out how to get them next to each other.
It is a tiny building, with carvings still intact. There is a small niche where the ark would have been, and a lovely but sadly inaccessible women’s gallery.
I also stopped at two small house museums, the museum of Sephardic life and a lovely if a bit tacky Casa Andulais. I’m intrigued by the hand icon that appears in both Jewish and Islamic art. This seems to be a shared symbol, but I’ll write about that more as well in its own post.
More later. Food calls.
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That Alcazar holds such a special place in my heart. I visited it first when I was sixteen and fell in love with it. I remember being in the beautiful gardens there and having a bride and groom ask to have their picture taken with me. Being an American was clearly a pretty big deal 20 years ago.
I still think those are some of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. We visited again on our honeymoon and felt that the contrast between the beauty of the gardens and the history of the Inquisition was so shockingly stark.
The gardens are amazing. I took many photos of all the citrus trees, and as a gardener I was fascinated by the irrigation system that is part of the architecture.
The garden at the Renaissance Palacio Viana are my favorite though. That’s a post for today I think.