Does anyone besides us sometimes feel that sightseeing can become overwhelming and what’s needed is to take a step back – a BIG step back? We had visited three great sites in three days, and it was time to take a relaxing stroll where we wouldn’t be overwhelmed. If we learned something new that would be great, but, mostly, we just needed to relax and enjoy what we had already learned.
We planned the day as an antidote to those big sightseeing days: to spend a quiet morning walking through the garden of the Alcázar in Córdoba and smell the flowers. (Would there be any?)
What was the origin of the Alcázar? The original fortress, built by the Visigoths, was torn down and replaced by emirs after the Muslims conquered Hispania. It must have been a grand palace in the 12th century – with extensive baths, gardens, and the largest library in the West. Then the Christians regained control. By the time of the Inquisition, it was used as a tribunal and torture chamber. It did put a taint on the Alcázar after learning its sad past. Time to exit the building and explore the garden.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops used the Alcázar in 1810. Soon after it became a prison. Today the Alcázar is part of the Historic Center of Córdoba – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
We imagine that what we saw was the “formal” garden but that other gardens extended beyond the current walls many centuries ago. After we left the Alcázar, we walked along the river. Birds stayed at a distance, and the undergrowth was wild so we mostly stayed on the sidewalk and just observed.
History informs us that the Alcázar rose to its most glorious in the days when the Muslims took great care in developing the building and gardens. The lowest point must have been during the Christian-led Inquisition. Something to ponder on our stroll through the gardens…