On the eve of Xmas Eve (2014), Cristina and I were at the Telefónica Foundation in Madrid‘s Gran Vía for a sparkling exhibition about Tesla—us shown around by the exhibition designer himself, Miguel Delgado, here next to me:
Our batteries duly charged with electricity, right after Xmas Day Cristina and I headed by high-speed train to Córdoba, to began a long fight against hypothermia in Andalusia. Not a problem for the orange trees, all in full fruit, cropping abundantly in midwinter as well as in high season.
These oranges are in the Courtyard of the Oranges outside of the no-longer-Great Mosque:
When I was a boy, I was riveted by a colour picture—in a multi-volume “Countries of the World” encyclopedia from the 1930s—of the umpteen striped horseshoe archways inside the Great Mosque; perfectly geometrical, not an irregularity in sight. Here’s the idea:
What a let-down the mosque is by now, almost every perspective within uglified by vulgarities. Bursting upward like a vast mushroom, the central christianised core is okay on its own dictatorial terms; but elsewhere, what a chaos of visual pollution and idolatry, saints in their iron cages like lunatics in Bedlam, blotches of interruption assaulting the eyes. (Admittedly the mosque is on the site of a former Visigoth church on the site of a Roman temple; history has many twists.)
Those wishing to drown their sorrows at the ongoing degredation of once-awesome architecture only need to head (supposing they aren’t Moslem) five minutes away to the Califa microbrewery pub opened in 2013; Calle Juan Valera, 3; their draft dark Sultan is delicious). And while we’re advertising nifty places, I hail Hotel Plateros, here being visited from its country village during the festive season by a turkey friend of the family, never to feature on any menu (except perched on top):
“Animals are so noble,” said the proprietress. On the patio of Hotel Plateros you can dress up as a Roman statue:
before exploring other intriguing alleyways with revealing courtyards, leading for instance to the House of Heads (which were once strung up across this alley for their Dad to contemplate):
or the relatively unknown Mudejar Chapel of San Bartolomé:
or the Julio Romero de Torres Museum:
A favourite of the Franco regime, Romero specialised in sultry black-haired Cordobesan women, surreally erotic death-fetishism, with flamenco and bull-fighting and the Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir often in the offing. Did we already mention ripe oranges?
In the water gardens of the Alcázar fortress we envied the carp swimming lazily in steaming warm water due to thermal springs first exploited by the Romans. Did the carp feel a bit poached? Steam doesn’t show up in these photos, though mist does. (I’m trying not to mention the Inquisition, except to say that in 1506 Córdobans rebelled against the cruelties of Inquisitor General Diego Rodríguez Lucero, shit be upon his name, chased the evil psycho away on muleback, and released over 400 victims from here.)
Chunks of Roman stone litter Córdoba. Need a garden feature? Oh, that one will do!
The Romans themselves even foresaw this:
Originally the town square was paved in mosaics, now safe inside the fortress:
Regarding photos and our valiant cameraguapa, at last we can reveal the guiding hand and eye of inspiration…