Having arrived in Cordoba yesterday evening, we were keen to get out and explore the city this morning. Fortunately we didn't have far to go; the apartment we're staying in is just on the opposite side of the river from the old town.
We first visited Cordoba during our 2014 trip to Spain and one of my main memories is the enormous bridge over the river Guadalquivir.
The bridge was originally built by the Romans in the 1st century BC, before being rebuilt during the 8th century when Cordoba was under Islamic rule.
As we walked across it this morning we had a good view of Cordoba's most famous sight: the Mezquita.
The Mezquita has been a Catholic cathedral since 1236, when Cordoba was captured by Christian forces.
However, the original building was a mosque, built in the 8th century when Cordoba was the capital of the Islamic region of Al-Andalus.
Some parts of the building look like a normal Christian cathedral. This bell tower, for example, was built in the 17th century to replace a minaret.
In other places, the Islamic influence is still very visible.
The building is beautiful from the outside, but even more so from the inside.
Last time we were here I went inside, but Tim decided that the €8 entry fee was too steep and stayed outdoors
This time we were both planning to go inside, although since 2014 the entrance fee has increased to €11.
We queued up outside to buy tickets from a ticket machine. The queue was quite slow moving, as some people seemed to be having difficulties with the machine, although we found it quite straightforward when we used it. You had to buy a ticket for a specific half-hour slot. We'd just missed 11am, so bought tickets for 11.30 and had a short stroll around the streets of the old town while we waited for our turn.
Soon it was our turn to go inside. I was really excited to see the red and white striped archways which I remembered from last time
Some parts of the interior look like a traditional cathedral.
Admittedly, a rather elaborate one.
But it's these columns and archways which make the building really unique.
This area would have been the main prayer hall back when the building was a mosque.
In total there are around 850 of these columns within the building.
The overall effect is really spectacular.
On one side of the cathedral more of the original Islamic decorations are visible.
The patterns are really intricate.
In some places the ceiling is patterned too.
I really loved these carved patterns on the walls as well
Once we'd finished admiring the cathedral, we stepped back out into the sunshine to admire the rest of Cordoba's sights. We discovered the remains of a Roman forum, which I have no recollection of seeing last time we were here
We walked through pretty little squares...
...complete with orange trees.
One of the other things I remembered from last time we were in Cordoba were the beautiful parks.
We were here in July before, so definitely appreciated the shade when walking beneath these trees.
Today we were more appreciating the sunshine
We stopped for a while in a cafe in the park for coffee
Then we continued back into the centre of Cordoba, admiring the walls of the Alcazar.
We stopped in a tiny little restaurant for a lunch of steak and potatoes. I was relieved Tim had asked the waiter for my steak to be well-done; his looked rather rare!
We finished the meal with a chocolate/custardy kind of pudding, plus coffee.
After the food we had another stroll, admiring the Alcazar from the other side.
Then it was back across the Roman bridge, towards our apartment.
I'm glad that Cordoba has turned out to be just as beautiful as I remember it being