We changed the direction in the TomTom to Cordoba and continued on the secondary and tertiary roads south. It is surprising how good even the smallest roads are. In the afternoon we were driving on the service road next to the A4 highway from Madrid to Cordoba. To make a bit of more progress we went on the motor way which enabled us to cover 420 km to a campsite just on the border with Andalucía. After setting up camp, we went to the local restaurant and had a meal to celebrate Jamaliah’s birthday. Back at campsite (since the wifi connection is good) we had a chat with the boys via skype (Anton in Finland) and face Time with Bernard in Holland.
On Friday 2/8 we followed the advice from the TomTom again and made a 50 km detour through the countryside towards Cordoba (190 km). This area is famous for its olives. Most hills are covered with them. The villages on top of the hills stick out above the fields. When stopping for lunch we saw a small museum down the road. It was the site of an archeological excavation of the Iberian culture. Some 20+ grave from around 400 BC where dug up on top of the highest hill overlooking the valleys covered with olive trees.
In Cordoba we found a public parking site next to the old historical town. In the evening we had our first reconnaissance stroll through the old city followed by a well deserved drink in a tapas restaurant in an old inner court yard.
The next day we visited the town in earnest. First it was the Mezquita (785 – 960). This is the old mosque of town. Every ruler had extended it with a couple of rows of columns and finally an outer court yard with a large square minaret. Once the Christians took over (1236) they built a cathedral “Capilla Mayor”(16th century) in the center of the mosque by removing a lot of the original pillars. The area is huge so you could easily find your own place to sit down and enjoy the scenery. Strolling underneath the arches you suddenly bump into the cathedral with all its pompous carvings. Around the mosque the city developed. With on one side the Rio Guadalquivie with its Roman Bridge and on the other side the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarters. After a day of strolling through the streets and visiting the museum we went back to the camper and Rudy got on the bike to cycle around a bit more on the outside of the old center. Along the way there were several churches and remnants of the city walls.
Behind the camper parking area, there was a open air theater. Already several hours before the show people were queuing up. The male singer must be very popular. We enjoyed the music till 23:30. It was a relative warm night since it did not cool down so much at night (now at 250 m).
Just outside Cordoba (8km) on the way to Seville we spotted a turnoff to the old ruined palace/city of Medina Azahara. It was built in 936 by Abd. Ar-Rahman III as the capital of his newly proclaimed caliphate. After Abdula’s sun died a power struggle emerged and the town was abandoned in 1013 in favor of Seville