Today, I am daytripping to Cordoba from Seville. Cordoba's entire old town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thus great care has been taken to curtail any development that mars the original features. Bars, cafes, boutiques and shops have found a way to co-exist within the framework of the old structures. The city's history can be split into three distinct periods - the Roman, Arabic and Christian. It is the distinct architectural survivors of these eras that lend the city its unique charm.
The most striking example of this co-existence is its Mesquite i.e. the mosque. In fact, the word is misleading as the mosque is actually a cathedral! Yes, confusing isn't it?! The Cathedral was initially one of the largest and most revered mosques in the region and in the days that the Arabs ruled Cordoba, it was a popular pilgrimage site. After Catholic reign was established over Cordoba, the then King built a chapel within the mosque compounds without destroying any of the original elements. Later, the minaret from where the prayer call was made was turned into a bel-fry, Thus, what we see today is a structure with both Islamic and Catholic symbols and details. The most beautiful section of the Mesquite is the hall with continuous rows of jade and marble pillars connected by arches.
From the Mesquite, I made my way to the castle which is worth a visit for the panoramic view of the city from the towers and its botanical gardens. The Roman bridge and remains of the the city walls from the Roman times and the Synagogue are the other key sights. Some of the original Arabic baths have been restored and converted to provide the hamam experience. In the right weather this traditional Arabic bath experience finds a lot of takers.
On my way back from Seville station to El Cachito, I stop at Bar Alfaqueque, run by Alexandra's friends Pierre and Rudolfo. I bear a note from Alexandra that says they must offer me a 'Welcome to Seville' drink on the house. But since it's my last evening in Seville it is more of a 'See you again in Seville' drink. The note is redundant, they have already been briefed about me and I get a big "Hola! You must be Himali" from behind the bar as I enter. And to pander to my vegetarian palate, Pierre cooks me up his special caramelised mushroom and cheese on toast. My last evening in Seville ends just like the first - good food and new friends...two definite reasons to return to Seville another day.