If there is another Andalucian city I am more passionate about than Granada, it has got to be Cordoba.
Put my interests in education, history, Islam and humanities together in a alchemy bowl and pooof, the physical culmination of it is Cordoba in the 9th and 10th century! Cordoba was THE centre of spiritual and intellectual knowledge of Europe then!
It was the largest and richest city in Europe, with a tradition of learning and discourse that overshadowed Baghdad and all other European cities of its time.
In a nutshell, Cordoba was the climax of my SeekingSpain journey.
And I’m going to do my darnest best to share with you this priceless pearl.
You see, I’ve always believed in the importance of sharing and raising awareness for (Islamic) heritage and history, especially in today’s messed-up world. Knowledge of history is important in order to be able to fully appreciate today’s events and to prepare for the future. Whatever is happening today didn’t just come out of nowhere – it’s the product of many things that had happened in generations past. And of course, I’ve also had enough of being forcefed just the Western persective of history and heritage through the education system and mainstream media (no complaints though, just need more balance!).
This is why I take so much pride in writing out these travel posts; I don’t believe in just sharing the what. I want to share the why and how too. I hope to be bring you along on a mental journey, to understand my elation at finally being in the place where my fascination in (Islamic) history peaked and to finally walk the lands of the learned scholars whose ideas crafted the world we’re in today.
*Henceforth, all my photos for the SeekingSpain series were taken using my iPhone!
I did a daytrip to Cordoba from Granada, primarily because I wasn’t able to find any decent-priced hostels in Cordoba and Granada was an easier point of departure to Seville.
Have I mentioned how convenient it was to travel via Alsa buses? Thankfully I’m not a fussy traveller so they were the cheap and good option for me! 😛
I arrived early, when most of the shops were still just opening. To get from the bus interchange to the main ‘historical’ centre of Cordoba, I had to walk through a beautiful park.
Everything was so lush and in bloom, being right smack during spring, so I took the opportunity to enjoy the stroll through.
The air was calm and I felt safe. That’s the beauty of Andalucia, I believe. I’ve never once felt threatened in Andalucia, something I cannot say of the other cities I’ve been to in Europe.
Once I reached the outer wall of the juderia (Jewish Quarter), I knew I was in for a treat! It was clearly augmented by the beautiful water features there, hehe.
I was so fascinated by everything: the huge bricked wall, the pavement, the balconies with dangling flowers… Everything. But I’ll tell you… I very nearly did somersaults (if I could, haha) when I saw this!
Ok, he is more commonly known as Averroes in the West but still! There is a
freaking bust of IBN RUSHD in Cordoba!
Chief among these thinkers was Averroes, as he is known in the west, or Ibn Rushd as he is known in the Middle East, one of the foremost thinkers of the age. Born in Córdoba in 1126, Averroes has also been called the founding father of secular thought in western Europe, and described as one of the key influences on scientific and philosophical thought during the transition from ancient to modern methods. His work, along with the works of Moses Maimonides and Aristotle, would become crucial to the great universities of Europe.
I wasn’t kidding when I said Cordoba was THE place to be if you were keen on getting an education in those centuries!
Over 5 million Muslims lived in Cordoba, making up over 80% of the population. It was the capital of the (then) strong and united Umayyad caliphate and was by far the most advanced and stable society in Europe. It attracted those seeking education from all over the Muslim world and Europe.
Muslims, Christians, Jews and others stayed together and most importantly, learned and debated together! It is important to note that this period of enlightenment was a result of open debate and the exchange of ideas amongst people of various faiths, but under the rule of a Muslim caliphate. This was the jewelled understanding of the time – education and knowledge are for all.
It has been estimated that in the 10th century Cordoba was the most populous city in the world, and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakam II (one very interesting personality, not without his fair share of controversy), it had also become a centre for education. Al Hakam II opened many libraries on top of the many medical schools and universities (madrasas) which existed at the time. Such universities contributed towards developments in mathematics, astronomy and other sciences.
InshaAllah, I will devote an entire entry for the Mezquita-Cathedral, the very epicentre of learning in the Andalucian world. I definitely have much to share for that one!
Now that I’ve shared the significance of Cordoba, I hope you’re as excited for the upcoming entries as I am to (finally) write them! It’ll be a bit too lengthy if I were to include them in one post (and I really need to get back to doing readings for school now) so inshaAllah, I’ll be back soon with entries on the Juderia, Mezquita-Cathedral and more! 😀
Sneak peek of the Juderia: