If there’s one thing that I can say I
regret (I’m not a big fan of regrets, you see) wished I had when I was exploring the beauty of the mezquita-cathedral, it’ll be a proper camera. I’d shared here what happened to my poor camera on my first day in Granada so all I had to take pictures with for the rest of my SeekingSpain journey was my humble iPhone4.
Not that it was such a big deal anyway. After the little mishap that happened before I eventually entered the mezquita-cathedral, I was really just more than happy to finally be inside. In fact, now that I think about it, it was very much a blessing. It made me pay more attention to the things around me, it forced me to take pictures with my mind and imprint it into memory. I touched the marble pillars, ran my hands through the iron grills and smoothed my palm over the oak pews. I was able to appreciate and immerse myself into my surroundings and really, if you ask me, that’s what travelling is all about.
I may not have nice glossy pictures on hand but the ones that I do have serve to supplement the memories in my mind. The pictures I took with my eyes, the textures I felt with my hands and the smells I inhaled with my nose.
Like every other cathedral I’ve been to around the UK, the smell of incense lies heavy in the air. The dim light, the unnatural quiet and the rows of pillars disarmed me at first. I had to take a while to calm the sense of excitement bubbling within me, because trust me, I could have just burst and ran around havoc if left unchecked. 😛
It was unbelievable. I was INSIDE! All the different elements coming together (Moorish & Christian architecture) made it feel so surreal – like I was in a collage made by an architect who couldn’t really make up his mind.
It was a different experience to being in the Alhambra, possibly because the Alhambra retained much of its Moorish vibe. Here, there are aisles and corners dedicated to saints and christian figures, paintings of scenes from the bible and of course, right smack in the middle is the church proper.
The hanging faux-chandeliers and the rows of dark marble pillars made me feel like I was going through a dungeon of sorts. The area surrounding the main nave was left empty and a visitor could either feel suffocated with a sense of lost of direction or the wonder of exploration.
I was excited when I saw the vaulted ceiling- it gave me a kind of assurance that I was indeed in a unique place.
I then got to the nave, the main body of the church.
The thought of how the people of the century got this done still blows my mind away.
The curious amalgamation of the two elements is really breath-taking, I felt.
I’ll be honest with you, I was actively trying to locate the mihrab. I needed to see it! The fact that there’s still a mihrab in the cathedral is what makes this place a combined place of worship.
The mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying.
When I finally saw it from afar, I actually let out a small squeal and clapped my hands in glee. 😛
It was absolutely stunning.
It isn’t well-preserved but oh wow, even in the years that has aged it, one can still see the beauty.
A slight sense of melancholy washed through me as I stood in front of the mihrab. Here stands an evidence of its past glory. This was where scholars used to face when praying in the mosque. It is now nothing but a mere display.
But I guess that’s what life is about – change.
God takes and gives in His own timing and with His own wisdom. Man can and should never take His mercy and grace forgranted.
On another note, the mezquita-cathredral isn’t as well-preserved as the Alhambra, with signs of aging and wear-and-tear perfectly evident everywhere but I guess that’s where the charm lies. It felt… unpretentious?
I know there’s two sides of the coin to this argument of preservation but I was personally glad that it wasn’t as made-up as the former. As I ran my hands on the aged slabs of cement, I felt in tandem with the history and the story of the place.
It has been in place for centuries, a quiet witness to the rise and fall of the world.
All of these have been here centuries before me, and possibly centuries after. What am I but a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things?
It was absolutely thrilling, in a history-geek kind of way, and deeply humbling.
Before I stepped out of the mezquita-cathedral after a few hours of walking around in circles, I stood in a dimly-lit corner and took a moment to say a prayer of gratitude. My ability to explore the place was nothing but a gift from Allah, a silent balm to my wound, and I cannot be any more thankful. I kept quiet, closed my eyes and aligned myself with my surroundings. In that moment of stillness, knew then that I was really just at the beginning of my long and arduous journey, and more was to come.
Come what may. I was ready.