Friday, May 7, 2010


Cordoba, capital of the Moorish stronghold in Spain for centuries, a thriving city characterized by religious tolerance and scholarly excellence, was conquered by the Castilians in 1243. The Mezquita, or large central mosque, was preserved, against the Church's wishes, because the Spanish monarchs revered Moorish architecture. In the center, a cathedral was constructed and the building still serves as a cathedral today, as well as a popular tourist destination. The physical juxtaposition of the two styles is breathtaking, but to me, it doesn't represent the coming together of two major religions. instead, it represents organized religion's desire to dominate.

After the Christians came in, any semblance of tolerance was ended and the remaining Moorish population and the city's large Jewish population were persecuted in various degrees until they were officially expelled in 1492.The remains of the Jewish neighborhood are now tourist attractions as well, including the synagogue where Moses Maimonides once worshipped. Maimonides was born in Cordoba, though his family fled to Egypt and finally to Israel. The synagogue reminded me strongly of the beautiful, intimate Sephardic synagogues I saw in Israel. Today, there is a statue of Maimonides nearby, and a plaza and hotel named after him.

Here are my pictures of the Mezquita and Maimonides' synagogue.

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