Córdoba and the Prado

It's such a joy to be on this trip! It's been a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know one another better. It has also provided us with much to reflect on, particularly when it comes to the history of the relationship between Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Our visit to the Mezquita, or the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, was another glimpse into that history. The Mezquita is an architectural hybrid; mixing various epoques of Moorish and Christian architectural styles. Prior to being a mosque it was the site of a Christian Visigothic church. Once the Muslim armies invaded, a mosque was built and was used as a place of Islamic worship for almost 500 years. When the mosque was reconverted to a Christian church in 1236, the Christians were so amazed by the structure that they chose to modify it, opting to build a church inside the mosque! The church was built over more than 200 years and had elements of Renaissance, Baroque and other styles and apparently when Charles V saw the finished cathedral, he exclaimed: "I have destroyed something unique to the world". However, our guide suggested that in a way if the church had not been built into the mosque, then we might not have the mosque at all. Many perspectives to sort through in a complicated history. 

After visiting the mosque in Cordoba, we had lunch in the city and were subsequently dropped off at the train station where we took the high speed train to Madrid. A chorister described the experience of traveling on the train as a mix between traveling in a car and traveling on an aeroplane. Our time in Spain has invited us to experience the ancient and the modern side-by-side. In fact, on the way to Cordoba from Seville this morning, we were told about the ambitious solar energy projects that Spain is leading, as part of their commitment to sustainability and renewable energy, as we passed a solar energy farm.  

Our destination once we got to Madrid was the beautiful Prado museum, which contains important European art, including works by Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Francisco Goya and Hieronymus Bosch. We were given a one-hour tour, which included the main highlights of the museum. A piece that seemed to resonate with many was ‘Christ washing the Disciples’ Feet’ by Tintoretto. What caught the attention of some of our group members was that as we walked from the right to the left, the orientation of the table and the floor seemed to shift with the viewer. I personally also enjoy the way artists have often taken stories or people from the Bible and transposed them into their own time and place (if you look in the background of the disciples, you can see a gondola!).

Tomorrow we are going to head over to El Escorial (a monastery) and then an excursion to Alcala’ de Henares (‘Citadel on the River’), and then the choir goes to sing a concert at the Cathedral here in Madrid. I'm looking forward to another day, rich with learning and community! 

Rev. Areeta