Hold on to your hats, folks, because this is going to be a long one.
When I last left you guys my family and I had just spent a long day exploring Seville. We stayed there for the night and early the next morning, we hopped in a car and drove off to Cordoba. Again, since we weren't familiar with the city, my family hired a guide to take us around.
The first place she brought us was the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a fortress known to be one of the primary residences of Isabella and Ferdinand - who everyone in Spain seems to know as "the Catholic monarchs". We entered the castle into their famous gardens and let me tell you, they were stunningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful. But you don't have to take my word for it; have a look for yourself.
Even though it was 43 degrees Celsius that day and therefore sweltering, we happily roamed the gardens for what felt like hours. I probably could've spent the whole day there, just soaking up the sun and admiring the beauty of the fountains, the flowers, the giant hedges. I even found myself a nice, shady little spot where I could take a break from the sun, if I so desired.
I know, I know, I really am tiny. Genetics, what can I say?
I had to snap one last photo of the other end of the garden as we were leaving.
It was one of the most beautiful places we went in Spain, and if you're ever in Cordoba, I'd say it's a must-see. I won't take no for an answer.
After we left the gardens we headed up to the main towers, of which there are two, and climbed up the steps to get a better view of the surrounding area.
We were met with a view of some ruins on the way...
But when we reached the top - or at least as high up as tourists are allowed - I managed to get a nice shot of the city. Pretty, isn't it?
We did some more exploring through the castle after that, but we didn't linger too long in the castle itself - we had lots of other things planned for the day, like visiting the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
It's not too far from the Alcázar, so our guide, Carmen, led us through some side streets to get there.
Cordoba's kind of a mix of quiet and bustling. On many of the streets Carmen led us through we encountered virtually no one, and we found ourselves admiring the many ivy-covered structures and painted white walls that people in Cordoba seem fond of decorating with colorful potted plants. But then we'd turn a corner and find ourselves in a busy square filled with tourists snapping away and vendors peddling fans, postcards, and hats. There's a certain liveliness to that that I enjoy, for sure, but in those moments I'd find myself missing the quiet serenity of those little-known side streets.
But it wasn't long before we reached the Great Mosque, which actually is partially a cathedral, and we found ourselves with our jaws dropped open again.
The Mosque is a wonder to behold. I think we actually spent two or three hours just wandering the halls. There's just so much to see, and every aspect of the Mosque is so drastically different and beautiful and crafted with perfection, it's hard to tear your eyes away from all of it.
It has the most fantastic domed ceilings I think you'll ever see in your entire life.
I was so captivated by the work on the ceilings, I think those comprise the majority of the photos I took at the Mosque! And they were, naturally, my favorite photos from the visit. The halls are filled with beautiful Islamic arches and marble pillars that seem almost endless. As much time as we spent there, I think we could easily have spent another hour or two wandering around and looking at more of the rooms - I highly doubt we saw more than half of the rooms actually there.
I guess they don't call it the Great Mosque for nothing, right?
By the time we finished looking around it was getting late in the day, so we headed to a restaurant Carmen recommended for a late lunch.
Look! More potted plants on walls!
We had a deeeelicious tapas lunch at El Caballo Rojo. I don't think it's actually meant to be tapas, but my family really enjoys eating family style, so we ordered a bunch of their appetizers - we didn't even touch the mains, the appetizers came in such large portions - and shared them. My favorites included the clams, the obligatory jamón, and their famous artichoke hearts, which oddly enough came with a sauce that tasted quite a bit like curry. There were quite a few people dining alongside us, so I assume it's a relatively well-known place in Cordoba. I very much recommend it for a laid-back lunch if you ever decide to visit.
Oh, before I go, I wanted to show you the t-shirt I wore that day. I picked it up in Zara in Barcelona and I'm obsessed. I think it's adorable and hilarious, but maybe I'm just weird.