The Mezquita The Mezquita
Raffi Raffi
Alex Alex

Fresh from the Costa del Sol, Alex and his parents spent two nights in Córdoba, the ancient Andalucian city that was once the capital of the Moorish kingdom. To many visitors, Córdoba is a city of art, architecture, and a varied religious history. To Alex, it was a city of oranges, pigeons, and one fascinating wall.

On the wall of the Mezquita Alex spent a lot of time walking and sitting on the walls surrounding the Mezquita.

Moorish arches inside the Mezquita
The skyline of Córdoba is dominated by the Mezquita, a mosque built by the Moors beginning in the 8th Century, and later converted to a cathedral by the Catholics. Fortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, the Christians chose not to obliterate the building's Arabic features during the conversion. The Mezquita, therefore, is a unique amalgamation of two very different architectural styles. The interior is vast and open, with row after row of columns and arches, and acres of intricate geometric carvings. In the middle of all this is an ornate 13th Century cathedral. Muted lighting lends the mosque an atmosphere that is sacred and serene, an atmosphere that was partially dispelled by a happy American toddler.

Alex was convinced that the Mezquita was the church in which Roger and Anita were married in Disney's 101 Dalmatians. The sounds of his footsteps echoed off the stone walls of the mosque as he darted around looking for a place where he himself could get married. Finding neither the right spot, nor the right spouse for that matter, Alex would leave the Mezquita as he entered it, single and unattached. He remains America's (and Spain's) most eligible two-year-old.

The wall Another picture of Alex on the wall of the Mezquita. He really really really liked this wall. An orange! Alex found this orange in the Mezquita's courtyard.
Alex had even more fun outside the Mezquita than he did inside. In the Mezquita's courtyard, he fed pastry crumbs to a small flock of pigeons until a little Spanish toddler came along and chased the birds away. He was delighted to find an orange that had fallen from one of the many orange trees in the courtyard. But the very best thing in Córdoba, at least from Alex's perspective, was the wall that surrounds the outside of the Mezquita.

It's a wall that has stood for more than a millenium, built by people who we presume are long dead. But the efforts and exertions of those bygone laborers finally bore fruit in 1999, when the wall gave unbounded joy to a little boy from a distant land. The wall is basically a wide platform that wraps around all four sides of the mosque. Alex sat on the wall. He walked on the wall. He found a big scary dead bug on the wall. He climbed up. He climbed down. And after his mother bought him a toy guitar in a gift shop, Alex sang on the wall. (His methodical rendition of Raffi's Down by the Bay was the talk of the town!) And whenever it was time to get off the wall, for a meal, perhaps, or for bedtime, Alex would protest vigorously. As we said, Alex loved that wall. He really really really loved that wall!

Down by the bay... watermelons grow...
Alex picked up this toy guitar in a gift shop in Córdoba. Locals and tourists alike seemed to enjoy his performance of Raffi's hit song "Down by the Bay," but nobody put any pesetas in his Spain hat.

Walking around Cordoba is, not surprisingly, like walking around in a very old city. The narrow streets are lined with huge homes from centuries past. Like many 19th Century mansions in American cities, these houses have been subdivided into modern apartments. Modern panels of doorbells can be seen alongside ornate medieval doors, while the sounds of a television waft through windows that were old when Milton Berle was young. (Milton Berle, in case you're wondering, was an early television pioneer. But we're here to talk about Alex's visit to Spain, and we've already spent far too much time on Milton Berle!)

It's a festival! The people of Cordoba welcomed Alex to their city by staging a festival, which was much like an American carnival, except that many of the young ladies were wearing flamenco dresses. The fairgrounds were dominated by this giant neon arch, made to resemble the arches inside the Moorish portions of the Mezquita. The Moors, of course, didn't use neon.