If there is a quaint gem hidden in the hustle and bustle of Fuengirola – the Salón Varietés Theatre is definitely one of them. The theatre was built back in 1925, so this year it is venerable 95 years old, five years short of being a full 100. It started as a theatre, but over the course of the years became a cinema. Continue reading “Salón Varietés Theatre in Fuengirola”
Even if you are not into history, the great Mezquita-Catedral is a must-see place in Córdoba. The 14 400 sq meter building has seen it’s fair share of the Spanish history, as it was first built as a small church by the Visigoths during the Roman reign. When the Muslims conquered the Iberian peninsula, the Caliph Abd ar-Rahman I purchased half of the church for the Muslim community’s Friday prayers, and later, in AD 784 purchased the rest of the church to set up a mosque. Over the centuries it was extended twice, bringing it to the form you can see it today.
Patio de los Naranjos
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Even when you enter the Patio de los Naranjos, the outdoor garden area surrounding the Mezquita-Catedral, it is quite obvious that this place wasn’t built to be a church, or a cathedral, but for something else. Even when the hustle and bustle of the daily tourist masses started, the gardens still felt tranquil, and you can easily lose yourself in thought when walking around.
The patio is also the place where, during the time when the Mezquita was still a mosque, the Muslims would perform the ablution (wudu) before going inside the mosque to perform the prayers.
At one corner of the patio is the 54 meter tall bell tower, where you have fantastic views over the city of Córdoba. Of course this requires you to utilise your leg muscles as you have to climb up to the tower. The cost for this is only 2€ per person, and this allows you to have possibly some of the best holiday snaps of the city. But you have to be “an early bird”, as the tickets usually sell out quite early in the day. And remember to time your visit right, as the church bells toll quite often…
Anyway, it might not come as a surprise to anyone when you find out that the bell tower actually used to be a minaret for the great mosque, and in its heyday this minaret was copied all over the Muslim Al-Andalus.
Inside the Mezquita-Catedral
First things first. When you come to any holy place, such as a church, temple, or a mosque, please be respectful enough to follow the rules of the place.
The first thing that we noticed when entering the Mezquita was the serenity of the vast place. As we were there shortly after 8.30 on the Wednesday morning, the entrance was free of charge (normally 10€ per person). Despite the early time, there were still many people around, but the size of the place just seems to make everyone disappear (unless you try to take a photo – then everyone seems to congregate in the same spot).
(C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019
During the restoration work of the Mezquita, they uncovered the original Visigoth / Roman era floors and mosaics, which are now visible through a floor window as pictured above. It is wonderful that something as beautiful and intricate has survived for over 1500 years and now that it has been uncovered, it can be viewed in such detail.
But it is not the only place in the Mezquita where there are beautiful mosaics. In the area of the Mihrab, a prayer niche, at the southern end of the Mezquita is more of the beautiful mosaics.
These are actually a gift from the emperor of Byzantium, from whom the then Caliph asked for a mosaicist, who could imitate the works in the great mosque of Damascus. The Christian emperor of Byzantium didn’t just send the person, but also 1600 kgs of gold mosaic cubes that subsequently were used to create this wall.
And of course the visit to the Mezquita wouldn’t be anything if you didn’t pay attention to the most well-known feature of the place. The beautiful red-and-white arches that you can see in all the souvenier materials of Córdoba.
(C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019
The Mezquita-Catedral is definitely a must-see place. It may not be as grand as the Alhambra in Granada, but at the same time one has to remember that the Mezquita is not a palace or a fortress, it used to be a church turned and rebuilt to be a mosque conquered to be a cathedral, a house of God. But it will still take your breath away and make you feel that one step closer to the Creator.
As it is the Eurovision week, we have a question for you all. What has more costume changes and more drama than the Eurovision Song Contest?
Well, a proper flamenco show of course! And this is just what we witnessed in the evening at Taberna Pepe Lopez! You get to read all about the show a bit late because my voice is hoarse from crying out olé so many times and from clapping my hands more effectively than Miss Nicole Kidman at the famous Oscar’s event.
According to the staff, the has been a flamenco performed here at Pepe Lopez since 1965, which makes the place a must see and experience.
The Taberna Pepe Lopez is conveniently located on Plaza de la Gamba Alegre, near the central shopping street of Calle San Miguel. On the Calle San Miguel you can find such places as Sabor a España, which we visited earlier.
Entry to the Taberna is by steep set of stairs with no wheelchair access, so unless you can walk stairs, this venue is out of your reach. I actually helped to carry a motorised wheelchair up the stairs for an elderly lady, who could do stairs but not walk much further.
The Show – Flamenco Dress Extravaganza
The showtime is at 10pm and the ticket, which costs a whopping 30€ per person includes a drink. At first I was slightly hesitant to purchase such expensive tickets, but after reading the reviews from the TripAdvisor I had a bit more confidence that the show might be more than to lure tourists in with a promise of a free glass of sangria. And luckily I did!!
The show itself is 2 hours long with a 12 minute interval for gathering yourself before the Grand Finale. And the level of artistry during the show makes you completely lose the track of time and the chairs you are sitting on.
The level of emotion carried by the live musical performances, some combined with the dancers’ movements is fantastic. I am still left at loss of words to describe all the feelings I felt during the show. The last time I felt this was when watching a theatrical play, The Quartet. The songs, the dances, were so intimate and moving.
If you come to Andalucia and have just one thing you want to experience, we recommend you spend the 30€ to see the flamenco at Taberna Pepe Lopez. We have experienced flamenco before at Malaga’s MIMMA, and that performance was also good, but nowhere near to this experience. The MIMMA show was like a trailer for this.
The chairs at the venue are not the best, but you are not there for the chairs. They don’t accept cards at the venue (if you want another drink during the show), so you need to carry some cash with you. But again, this is not the venue to come to drink yourself merry. Having just that one drink was enough for this Finnish Queen to melt his frozen tear ducts during some points of the show.
And yes, the goosebumps were not there because of the air conditioning but because of the show.
And as writing about this is difficult, we will let the flamenco speak for itself, enjoy.