Finally! A trip around SPAIN! I feel like I have been off exploring Europe but not enough time is being spent in my host country. My trip to Andalucia started the day after the Backstreet Boys concert — what a way to continue the awesomeness! Posting about this trip will be broken into 3 separate blog posts because we visited 3 different cities. Andalucia Part 1 starts now…
We left Madrid early and travelled south towards Andalucia, but we made a stop along the way…to Consuegra! You may be thinking, “what is Consuegra?” But, if you know the story of Don Quixote, Consuegra is where the big windmills are located. And we saw them! It was extremely windy when we got there, but the windmills were awesome! And they are still functioning. When the blades spin, a cog inside the windmill starts to spin and crushes wheat into powder that they refine and…viola! Flour! The windmills are up on a hill and has a breathtaking view of the town of Consuegra below and the acres and acres of farmland. Of course, as time passed, the technology got better so across the way from the traditional windmills are modern windmills used for renewable energy!
Then we got back on the bus and drove farther south towards Andalucia. Andalucia is one of the 17 autonomous communities and has 8 provinces. We got to see three of them and the first on our list was Córdoba! The first thing we saw in Córdoba was the Guadalquivir river that flows through the provinces of Andalucia. I can’t tell you it was pretty because it wasn’t — the water was brown with mud and silt. But the city of Córdoba was absolutely wonderful! Everything was made of stone and looked very old and fragile. Córdoba [and Jaén, another province in Andalucia] are most famous for olive oil. Fun Fact: Olive trees and therefore, olive oil, were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Greeks in approximately 500 BC. My friends and I went to an authentic olive oil shop with tons of different techniques to obtain the oil, different bottles and even a testing plate with little pieces of bread. And so everyone in my family gets a bottle of olive oil!
Then we saw the symbol of Córdoba: the Mezquita. Mezquita in Spanish means “Mosque”. This mosque in particular has an amazing historical timeline. In 711, the Muslim invasion from North Africa into the Iberian Peninsula began and they claimed the land to be their own. [The Christian Reconquest starts a few years later and takes approximately 750 years to expel the Muslim influence]. During this time, the most important Muslim area was Al-Andalus, present day Andalucia, and its capital was Córdoba. This mosque was constructed to be the holiest of the Holy in Andalucia and is absolutely GORGEOUS! Upon entering the mosque, the first thing we saw was a sea of archways. The Muslims used the Visigothic horseshoe arch design in many of their buildings as well as brick, so that the building and pattern would last for a very long time. We also saw the other main parts of the mosque, such as the Mihrab and its ornate decoration and learned that the Mezquita de Córdoba is not oriented in the direction of Mecca like most mosques are. There are a few theories on why not but I thought that was a cool fun fact nonetheless. Then, I started to see Christian things on the wall instead of Muslim things. It turns out that when the Christians reconquered the city of Córdoba in the 11th century, the Mezquita was transformed into a Catedral [cathedral].
Córdoba was a very short visit because after we saw the Mosque and spent some more time wandering around the city, we got back on the bus and travelled to….Granada!