on March 25, 2007
We boarded the coach a little past 9am, and headed to our next stop, Cordoba. We thought we had had our fill of Churches, but walking into the Mezquita at Cordoba took our breath away, and we ended up walking around the Mezquita in awe and amazement for more than an hour.The Mezquita is a gargantuan mosque, built in the 10th century on the site of a small Christian church. When Cordoba was Christianized, the Mezquita was turned into a cathedral. I had seen mosques before in Asia. And being a Catholic in a former Spanish colony, I of course had seen Churches, including dozens of medieval Churches that dot the Philippine islands.But the Mezquita was something else. When you walk in, you know you are in--what else--a mosque, and an exceedingly glorious one at that. Its incredibly tall pillars and high arches are made of white and red brick, and as a result the arches are striped red and white, making you feel that you are in a Moroccan tent city populated by giants. My husband and I walked around in dazed awe, broken only by laughter when my husband began to hum the theme from the Lord of the Rings movie when the fellowship enters Moria. (Yes, it did look like Moria!)Of course we knew that this mosque had been turned into a Church, yet it still took us by surprise to see, smack in the middle of the Mezquita, just where one would expect Muslim prayer mats to be rolled out, a set of very Catholic pews, an altar and chancel, and even a Confessional box. The juxtaposition of Christian symbols against Islamic architecture and design was jarring, amazing, and exceedingly interesting. We oohed and aahed as we noticed little details on the ceiling, on the walls, in the little side chapels... as we walked by the markers on the ground where faithful parishioner were buried, as we approached a pit had been dug up to reveal the original foundation, more than 1000 years old.I squinted, trying to imagine what this place must have looked like a thousand years ago, when faithful Muslims from all over Cordoba would gather to worship here and to pray. I tried to imagine the imam's voice carrying over their bowed heads as he led the faithful in prayer. I squinted again, trying to imagine what battles these walls must have seen, and finally, I wondered how the first Christians to enter these walls must have reacted when they came here to hear their priest say Mass. I thought about the changing language that must have reverberated against these pillars: the imam chanting the Arabic verses from the Qur'an, the priest centuries-old verses in Latin.Oh, if walls and pillars could speak.Tourists' entrance fee is €8 for adults. It is open to tourists 10am-6:30pm Monday to Saturday, 1:30pm-6:30pm on Sunday. Sunday Masses are at 9am and 10:45am. This is a must-see!
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