Córdoba is an ancient city in the region of Andalusia, southern Spain; a city that has everything for which a traveler in search of old-world charm could hope: beautifully symmetrical plazas, exotic flowering gardens, reflecting pools, winding stone streets, beguiling alleyways, white-washed walls, colorful tiled facades, high towers, opulent palaces, sparkling fountains, bustling shops, any number of cafes and restaurants, and elegant hotels. Córdoba also has the distinction of being one of the few—if only--places in the world where it is possible to say: Voy a la Mezquita a oír misa. I’m going to the Mosque to hear Mass. Mezquita refers to the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the most significant and beautiful Islamic structure in the West. Although the Mezquita retains important architectural elements of the original mosque, hundreds of years have passed since it was converted into the cathedral named in honor of the Virgin of the Assumption. And yet, while it is a Catholic church where Christians may gather for worship, the people of Spain still refer to the cathedral as the Mezquita.
Kathryn A. Kopple is the author of Little Velásquez, a novel set in 15th century Spain.