January 28th 88 students and I groggily boarded a bus and headed south to spend a week in Spain’s southern region of Andalucia. Our first stop was Cordoba and a visit to the breathe-taking Mezquita–catedral de Córdoba. This mosque began construction in 785 in a time when Cordoba was the capital of Al-Andalus.
The Moorish architecture is heavily present throughout the Mosque-cathedral.What caught my eye the most were the 856 columns made of red brick and limestone; that gave the mosque a never-ending look. What I found to be most interesting in this place of worship was the middle. In 1236 Cordoba was conquered by Kind Ferdinand III and the mosque was turned into a Catholic cathedral. About 200 columns were knocked down and an extravagant catholic church was put smack dab in the middle complete with lots of gold and giant saints. People still worship here today! Although it took the place of worship for the Muslim people and completely altered it, the reason it is still standing today is because during the Spanish inquisition it was pardoned of being destroyed because it was not solely a Muslim worship te
mple but a catholic one.
Our next stop was Sevilla, Spain, home-town of my amazing friend Lucia!
My schoolmates and I felt like royalty (which is only appropriate while in Andalucia, right?) when we entered our hotel. Before dinner we made our way up to the terrace and got an amazing view of Catedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic style cathedral and 4th largest overall cathedral in the world!
For dinner in Sevilla my friends and I took Lucia’s advice and had dinner at Taberna Coloniales. This was the best meal I ate the whole Andalucia trip, and maybe even during my entire trip in Spain thus far! If you ever find yourself in Sevilla put this place on your list! At dinner I ordered berenjenas rellenas (stuffed eggplant) filled with shrimp, which was a delightful surprise! Our table also ordered Roquefort dulce con moras (cheese and sweet berry jam spread) this combination was fantastic, I am a huge advocate for cheese and berries! For dessert we got Tia Pepe (Spanish cheesecake).
Plaza De España
This famous Plaza was used as a filming location for Star-wars episode 1 & 2, I have never really seen the movie but my roommate, Alison better known as Rosada, is a HUGE fan so she was pretty thrilled about this. A neat feature of the plaza is the tiled covered walls that feature each province of Spain. I really could have spent hours here observing the fine tile and bridges throughout the plaza.
Reales Alcázares de Sevilla (Royal Alcazars of Seville) the oldest royal palace still in Europe!
It’s very typical for artist to come to the ancient palace and work on paintings,etc.
After we toured Sevilla we were off to Granada to visit the Alhambra. Never have I seen architecture so fine before, I was taken aback by how small the detail was here. I tried
to imagine my self back in 889 when the Alhambra was first constructed as a fortress using tiny tools hour after hour to create a huge piece of what would be one of the most amazing buildings in the world. In 1333 the fortress was converted into a royal palace. Of all places, my camera died mid way through the Alhambra, but I was able to snap a few photos before it died. Since Alhambra is a bit higher on the mountain than the rest of Granada we were able to get a spectacular view of the white washed city from above! We were also able to see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada, a mountain very popular in Andalucia for its skiing. It was a bit surreal being so hot and then walking up and seeing snow! Especially being a Florida native.
Their were many royal cats in Alhambra, not a shabby spot to live if you ask me! I could go on for days about Spanish tile, the tile in the Alhambra is probably my favorite so far. Covered in star patterns and geometric shapes of yellow, green, blue and white the tile could almost tell a story. How is it that something so old is still so appealing to the eye after all of these years? Walking through the Alhambra where most of the palaces walls were covered in carvings like the photo seen below literally sent chills down my spine. This palace is so well-preserved (although new pieces are sometimes added) it is almost like time travel thinking about the royal families that once lived here.
After so much sight-seeing (although I could have stayed there for hours longer) I was ready to eat! One thing I loved so much about Andalucia was the free tapas! This is most practiced in Granada. Order a reasonably priced beer or wine (or soda but no thanks) and get a free tapa, rice, bocadilla, or any other concoction the bars come up with. After 3 drinks and 3 tapas I was full from tapa hopping (and my wallet was still pretty full too!)
The weather, food, architecture and nightlife were remarkable in Andalucia. If you ever end up in Spain put this region on your to-do list!