The second and last chapter of this issue about the French agency “Photo Goldner”’s portrait of Spain and its stay in Córdoba in 1950. While we dealt with the photographs printed in paper in the first chapter, throughout this second chapter we shall see the negatives (6x6), that has a better quality overall.
The year of 1950 the “Photo Goldner” Agency sent two photographers to portray Spain. In the same trip they also crossed the Mediterranean for a “Romantic Tour” in Tunisia and Morocco. We know very little about this Photo Goldner Agency, solely that it had its headquarters in number 4 Claude Debussy square, 17th district of the city of Paris. Also they worked mainly with magazines and publications like LIFE.
It is very likely that future historians and linguistics from the next millennium will study our beautiful Spanish language, transformed in the odd melange with English that is become popular these days, and result to some conclusions. First, that the English was the hegemonic language in the world during those days. Most technological changes and advances have adopted English words and then these newly coined words have ended up in our dictionaries.
Córdoba is a city full of odd contrasts. It is a Southern city with a central square made using Castile’s fashion, making the Corredera square the fourth biggest in the country. The city’s Cathedral is surrounded by a Muslim mosque, in other words, mass takes places in a former mosque.
It is not Jamón de Pata Negra nor olive oil nor even the popular Paella or the traditional Córdoba Salmorejo, what is being a sold-out recipe around the world this XXIst century is our simple very modest Churro. It is a very familiar recipe all along the Americas (Hispanic Americas), many countries have their own version, filled with cream, chocolate, you name it.
Count Jan Potocki was born in 1761 in a castle in Pikow (Poland). He was a writer, an erudite, a traveler, a spiritual man, a scientist and a politician, he was also one of the most interesting characters of the Enlightenment era. He traveled the world, he visited Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Hungary, Serbia, Turkey, Egypt, Russia… he even went as fas as Mongolia. But none of these vast big territories really mattered to him while he wandered Sierra Morena, the way that goes from Córdoba to Despeñaperros. The sceneries he encountered in his path he turned them into the only novel he wrote. Poor Potocki ended his life in 1815, he took his own life with a silver bullet that he himself polished.
I know what you may be thinking: that a cloister refers to a Christian building. However let us take another approach to the term, a more figurative yet literal one. The dictionary says that a cloister is a courtyard with arcade galleries at each one of its four sides, and it is constructed next to one of the naves of the temple.
It is said that Philogelos (from the Greek “laughter lover”) is the first written compilation of jokes in history, although I am sure that the idea of a joke is far older than that. It must have been born the very first day humans raised their voices to speak right alongside laughter.
Tomorrow, 16th of November, takes place the International day of Flamenco as a gesture to the day the UNESCO recognized Arte Jondo as World Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010. But it does not stop here, throughout the current month takes place in Córdoba the XXI National Flamenco Contest, a prestigious event that is celebrated every three years since 1956 bringing the city the best flamenco singers, dancers and artists. You can consult the agenda in their website.
There is a bit of a confusion when dealing with Spain during the Islamic years. These terms are clear only to a small percentage of well read people. It is however confusing for the rest of us, common folk, who have not the required knowledge nor the time to learn seven centuries of our history.
The USA is one of the few places in the world where one can find all together buildings copying Istanbul's Saint Sofía, a Chinese pagoda or a Bangalore palace; British and Normand style of houses, Italian villas just like the ones in Tuscany or Andalusian patios. The wide range of styles is what makes the USA such a peculiar place. It is but reasonable that the hordes of European immigrants would eventually reproduce what they saw in their homeland countries.
Michel de Nostradamus (1503-1566) was a doctor, a theologian, an astrologer, a mathematician and an alchemist. This character has been for years subject of great study. His prophecies as well as his own persona has stirred the imagination and curiosity of many academics in search of the truth about the man and the key to our future. An enigmatic and systematically ambiguous character.
A quick search in the Internet will give us a wide range of characters that go by the name of “Juan de Córdoba” for we can find this topographic surname frequently written in the annals of History. Córdoba was the surname of a master glassblower working in the stained glass windows of Toledo’s cathedral; Córdoba was the surname of a fine luthier, Juan de Córdoba, that built monumental organs for numerous churches in Aragón; even Catholic Kings’ master mason and architect, builder of the Segovia’s Cathedral in Ávila, was commonlly known as Juan de Córdoba.
In Rome, in the Southeast of the city, South from the Aventino Hill, there is a small, a lesser hill, that is commonly known as Mount Testaccio. It is a unique and peculiar construction that tells us a lot about the type of relationship Rome had with a part of its Empire: Hispania.
This new poetic fashion has probably a lot to do with the way in which our youngsters communicate with each other, the way in which social networks such as Twitter or Instagram have developed into a common tool for everyday life. In a way this literary phenomenon was a logical consequence of the vast influence social networks have today.
A few weeks ago in another article I mentioned how important had water been throughout Córdoba’s history, pointing out how this city is one of the few that offers free drinkable water in public spaces in Europe. Today we are overwhelmed in celebration for a new museum has open its doors with the aim of exploring and studying the influence of Water in the city, how did its inhabitants managed this natural resource so that there was not a lack of it at home.
Way before the Romantic tours got popular during the XIXth century there were some that would travel in a similar manner. It was the case of the Florentine monarch, Cosimo III de Medici, who in September of the year 1668 would initiate a grand tour around various European Kingdoms, among them Spain, accompanied by his entourage –a party of about thirty– with the sole purpose of completing his education and closely study different customs and policy making in various countries.
Every single inhabitant of Madrid knows that when looking up at night the only stars he might see are the ones in the flag. This is also true for the inhabitants of Barcelona or any one of the 10 most populous cities in Spain. But not only this is true in Spain, every single human being living in a relatively big city cannot enjoy a starry night, it is somehow forbidden.
It is known by many by the king of all lighthouses or the “Versailles” of the Sea. We are referring to the guardian of the Gironde estuary, the oldest lighthouse in France and the first one to be classified as a historical monument, in 1862 along with the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
There is something that you can happily leave out when visiting Córdoba and that is the bottle of water which, along with the camera, makes tourists recognizable all over the world. For there are very few cities in the planet that offer such a vast network of public fountains with the best drinkable water.
Today we shall begin a photographic tour around the different weather vanes (or weathercocks) that garnish the top of Córdoba buildings. It is my believe that we have a tiny debt with these peculiar and forgotten items, thus, here comes a small tribute.
“Old Córdoba” refers to what nowadays are the ruins of the city-palace of Medina Azahara. Already in 1241 when Fernando III ordered the new distribution of land and properties of the recently conquered city of Córdoba he spoke of the “Old Córdoba”, thus, reflecting the ruinous state in which the Christians found Medina Azahara.
Nowadays we use the GPS in our cell phones, apps that give us the better route and take us to our destination. Not long ago there used to be guides and maps and we kept them inside the glove compartment of our cars. But, what was used before that and before before that? How did a Roman citizen travel such a vast Empire without taking the wrong turn? How could the travel be planned in advance?
Spanish History is filled with curious an interesting stories, many of them would make a terrific film script in Hollywood, sadly most of them are unknown to us. That is the case of Juan Latino who was the first black man to be appointed professor at a University in History. But if this fact caught your attention wait until you read the rest of the story.
Art Nouveau was an architecture style that accompanied the rise of the bourgeois social class throughout the 2nd Industrial Revolution, it went by different names: Art Nouveau in France, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezession in Vienna, Modern Style in England, Liberty or Floreale in Italy, Modernismo or Art Nouveau in Spain… This style, although not very popular, did leave its footprint in Córdoba, a small piece that is quite a place to visit.
Hermits in Sierra Morena are a tradition as old as Christian Faith in Spain; some even say that the hermit tradition in Europe started there and then spread. It was the bishop Hosius of Córdoba the one who after meeting Saint Antonio Abad officially introduced this Christian tradition for the first time in Western Europe. However, the 13 small white shrines crowning the mountains of Córdoba come from a more recent past.
The Ministry of Agriculture has recently granted the best Spanish wine of 2019 award to the Fino Capataz Solera de la Casa, original from Montilla-Moriles (Bodegas Alvear) in Montilla (Córdoba). The quality of a wine that, as of today, is not very popular among users and is constantly undervalued by the world’s wine industry is finally acknowledged.
The long and old Sun street, that goes by the official name of Agustin Moreno these days, constitutes the backbone and true core of the Santiago quartier. The unofficial name of the street might have a lot to do with its straight East-West orientation that deprives anyone passing through from a bit of a relieving shade; it could also be related to the long gone Sun Entrance of the Axerquia (the Muslim wall).
Zorba, the Greek character from that Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel, used to say that “the shape influences the color a flower takes; the color affects the characteristics of a flower. As a result, each flower has a distinct power over the body and the soul of a man”.
Despite it being a Roman architectural heritage the term itself has its roots in the Arab word istawán which then acquired its current significance and use in the XVIth century. For instance, it was documented for the first time by Cristóbal de las Casas in 1551. In Al-Andalus architecture the zaguán served as a hallway or an open passage from the main entrance to the patio. There are many old traditional houses in Córdoba, Sevilla and Granada that still preserve that disposition.
The painting style and technique exploited by Julio Romero de Torres has been for decades now the sole painting fashion in Córdoba thus superseding a great deal of excellent painters that as of today are completely unknown to the vast majority of the public. One of them is Antonio Palomino (1655-1726), considered by many the best Spanish mural painter after Goya. This painter is not only known by his wonderful art pieces but also by his extensive and rigorous work as an essayist.
They call the Viana Palace the doorway to the Patios, but also the Patios Palace or the Patios Museum, and not without sound reasons. This gem of a Córdoba Palace is the result of 500 years of continuous acquisitions of the surrounding buildings to enlarge the Palace. That alone gave us 12 wonderful out-of-this-world patios each one presenting a different personality.
Beyond the famous rivalry between the Córdoba poet Luis de Góngora and Quevedo –widely considered the richest and most prolific rivalry between two writers of the Spanish Golden Age–, which we should also celebrate as it has left us so many poetic gems, there is also a widely interesting yet unknown relationship between Quevedo and the city of Córdoba. It was here, in Córdoba, where the first translation into Spanish of the famous work by Tomas Moro Utopia was accomplished and it was so because of Quevedo.
I found it searching the wonderful archives of the Biblioteca Nacional. It seems that the document itself dates from the 1950’s but the author is not known. However, as far as the date is concerned, it is very likely that the unknown author could have belonged to the circle of bright Arabists that flourished around those very same years: Manuel Ocaña, Emilio García Gómez, Rafael y Rosario Castejón and some others that, as a result of a government policy looking to cast light on our history, were able to search into the history of Muslim Spain. Just to give you an idea of how strong this Arabist intellectual fashion came to be back then I shall state that around that time there were serious voices backing the idea of taking the Mezquita to its original Muslim self, that is, place the Christian Cathedral somewhere else (further reading here).
Eduardo Zamacois is often known as being part of a long Spanish family line of artists, even though he was born in Cuba –he would since that day onward have two nationalities–. Zamacois was a prolific writer who particularly enjoyed writing erotic literature. In 1899, the writer, editor and journalist was 25 years old; 55 in 1927 and more the 60 when he went into exile. He would come back home at the age of 100 but inside a wooden box.
Romantic tours to Spain likely had a sound precedent here and had their first seed in the enlightened tours made during the XVIIIth century. Among those tourists, or travelers, was Henry Swinburne, who immediately showed strong feelings towards Córdoba. The book at hand has however a dark purpose, that was to further build the Spanish Black Legend that was key for many countries then to fight Spain as a dominant power in Europe.
I have not run into Adolfo Best Maugard’s work until recently and by mere but happy chance. I was researching on Miguel Covarrubias, a self-made designer, anthropologist and archaeologist who lived and worked between New York and Mexico city and was a key figure for the nationalist cultural movement in Mexico during the first half of the XXth century, when I came across this little book by Elena Poniatowska that collected articles and obituaries after the death of this magnetic figure.
It was the writer Camilo José Cela the one who eventually coined the term “yoga ibérico” to speak of napping or siesta, a true Iberian habit. This great author claimed that napping ought to be done in full gear: “pajamas, bedtime prayer and urinal” –urinals under the bed sets us in another time–; although doctors do not agree with long siestas.
We could very well find the true value and quality of any given creation by taking a look at how frequently that particular creation is reproduced and/or imitated throughout time. The Córdoba Mezquita is one of the great architectural heritages the Arabs left in Spain. And this is certainly not by mere chance or accident but instead due to the architectural advances that were implemented in its construction by the Muslims. This turned the Mezquita in much more than a praying place: a monumental source of technical inspiration.
I am a bit of a bookworm and today I got lucky in just the right way. I was glancing through one of my old Art magazines, one of many that were published in the early XXth century, and I discovered another unknown painting of Córdoba by the great Darío de Regoyos.
Eight was a very recurrent number in Al-Andalous (the Muslim Spain) and particularly important in the city of Córdoba. Jorge Luis Borges in his short tale “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” wrote: “Al-Mu’tasim (the eighth son of the Abbasid dynasty who was victorious in eight battles, who had eight sons and eight daughters, who left eight thousand slaves and ruled for eight years, each one with eight moons and eight days)”.
We find the number eight in many symbols. The Seal of Solomon is a symbol of great importance for a good deal of civilizations. This star replicates throughout the world. It is said, for instance, that the Tartessos (an ancient an mythical civilization located in the South West of the actual Andalusia) used this symbol.
During the XIXth century Europeans developed a fascination for the Eastern world. The Ottoman Empire, the North of Africa and Egypt were some of the regions that symbolized the romantic tendency towards this unknown sensuality. The far East (Asia) was still too far to travel pleasurable. And Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt had just brought this mysterious lands closer thus opening a world of fantasies that acted as a magnet to wealthy cultivated families as well as many artists.
Whenever we visit a city we try to fit in with local inhabitants, we desire not to be pointed out as tourists, we want to feel what is like to be one of them, experience in truth their daily life, we search to know a place’s soul.
This year the Bauhaus commemorates its hundred years and I would like to use the opportunity to fill you in an interesting and odd crossbreed between Flamenco and this historical institution. It is odd because, as you may well know, the Bauhaus was officially declared “degenerate art” by the almighty German mustache –of course I mean Hitler–. Needless to say that it did not please our very own Spanish mustache neither.
We would call it fake news nowadays but back then it went by a different name: they were called legends and had the same political effect fake news have these days. And no, Charlemagne never did set foot in Córdoba, although he would have very much liked to. In truth it appears that he tried but failed disastrously.
Where does this strange and popular letter come from? Well, surprisingly the story begun in Córdoba, or should I say the Córdoba Caliphate. The term “arroba” comes from the Arab الربع (ar-rubʿ) which means the quarter of something (¼) and was widely used in Spain around the IXth century, one unit was equivalent to 25 pounds, in other words one unit was equivalent to one quarter of a quintal or centner: 11,5 kilograms.
Once upon a time there was a major in Córdoba that changed the face of the city forever and he did that in just 15 months. Domingo Badía y Leblich (Barcelona, 1st of April of 1767 – Damascus, 1818) was a true adventurer; fearless like no other he lived a thrilling life. He was a spy, a soldier, an Arabist but above all a Spanish adventurer; he was then known by Alí Bey or Alí Bey el-Abbassi.
It is definitely a date for celebrations! A few days ago the good news arrived: the Minaret of Saint Juan will be restored. And I shall take the opportunity to go through the minarets that as of today remain in the city. Despite what one might think, there are not that many Arab buildings in Córdoba.
When entering the main hall of the State Tretyakov Gallery the first thing you might see will be an enormous painting of the famous and unique Christ of the Lanterns of Córdoba. And that well deserves a brief investigation on how and why the Capuchins’ square has such an importance in this Russian Museum.
Despite the popular refrain “haberlas haylas” (it would mean that when talking about something of which proof of existence is not available if that something’ range is incommensurable enough one must assume that the lack of evidence should not necessarily imply that it does not exist or happen; for instance: one might say that, due to the wide variety in chairs, a pineapple-shaped chair could exist even though we have no knowledge of it), it is very hard for me to acknowledge any truth in the fantasies, legends and other stories regarding witchery and sorcery.
Flamenco, that profound and rich Art declared one of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, has a complex and not so clear origin, even for those well-versed in the matter. Its genesis comes with a great many hypothesis, myths and false beliefs. That is, in my opinion, what makes it so interesting to study today: Flamenco still has a lot of secrets.
Cartier-Bresson (of whom we have already talked about in this blog) and Robert Capa were not the only souls to have taken pictures in Córdoba. The Austrian photographer Inge Morath also visited the city around the second half of the XXth century; not many pictures from this trip have seen the light, but the few that did cannot go unmentioned here.
When Diego de Velázquez dies in August of 1660, the Córdoba painter Juan de Alfaro is nothing but a teenager, a young man of 17 that had managed to become Velázquez apprentice. However this odd Córdoba character, perhaps dazzled by the greatness of his master, in a short period of time, ended up being something more than just a disciple.
Many are the Spanish dishes that have traveled the world: “paella”, “tortilla de patatas”, “fabada”, “cachopo”, “ensaladilla rusa”, “croquetas”, “cocido”, “gazpacho”… however none of those delicious dishes have orbited the Earth, with the single exception of our beloved “salmorejo”.
José Ortiz Echagüe (1886–1980) is the great “amateur” Spanish photographer of the XXth century. In 1935 the “American Photography” magazine considered him as one of the top three photographers in the world, he was however a difficult profile to classify. He was a military engineer that in 1923 founded C.A.S.A. (Construcciones Aeronáuticas S.A. or Aeronautic Constructions S.A.), and later, in 1950, he developed one of the first Spanish factories of automobiles, SEAT, which he would run until 1976.
Carlos Villarías was an actor from Córdoba that left a golden mark in Hollywood right when the first sound films were being introduced. He played the leading role of a Spanish version of Dracula at the height of his career. He played the same role of Bela Lugosi in the English version.
It is not all that clear how the connection between the city of Córdoba and San Rafael begun, but I will do my best to explain it. First of all, many believe that San Rafael is the patron Saint of Córdoba: it means a festive day, the city is filled with sculptures and other representations of this Saint and of course Rafael is the most popular name for boys in the city; that would easily lead anyone to believe so. San Rafael, at many levels, acts as a true patron Saint but is not.
Wind is a a plot between Sun and the Earth’s rotation. Wind is a creator god right from the very beginnings of man kind. Wind carries seeds and life, shapes mountains and creates dunes and waves. Neither rain nor fresh water would exist without the doings of wind, that is to say there is no human life without the continuous action of the wind. Wind creates, there lies its divinity. But once a god also a demon and wind carries destruction in the form of hurricanes or tornadoes, and that is the other true face of life and creation.
Buenos Aires underground or metro (the “subte”, short for “subterráneo” which literary means underground, for its residents,) was and still is more of an Argentinian ceramic museum. There are murals in every station, and not only ceramic, sculptures, paintings, stained glass, mosaics, etc., too. For instance, D line was long ago declared an Historical National Monument for its murals. And they come in all shapes and themes. There are murals dedicated to Mafalda, Gardel, Maradonna and even Messi.
We have already talked about Pedro de Córdoba and his panel the Annunciation, now exhibited in the Mezquita. In that same article Bartolomé Bermejo was briefly mentioned. He was a painter that worked mainly for the Crown of Aragón in Valencia and Zaragoza. Such was his talent that he even got to be of the main figure of the so called Catroccento in Aragon.
The erotic drama filmed in 1978 starts off with the main character in the famous Potro square copying the paintings of Julio Romero de Torres. The guitar of Manolo Sanlúcar plays flawlessly in the background. The plot of the movie is above all set in the narrows streets of the Jewish quarter and the outsides of a Cortijo at slope of the Sierra Morena mountains.
The poet Muhammad Iqbal in the Mezquita’s Mihrab in 1933.
Muhammad Iqbal (1877, Punjab – 1938, Lahore) is better know fir being the national poet of Pakistan. Iqbal received an excellent education in Europe and India, under the British rule: the British Raj. He graduated from the University of Cambridge and got a Philosophy doctorate from the University of Munich, and then work as a lecturer.
It is not mere chance that the Potro square is our most precious square and the biggest one is “La Corredera” or that “El Caballo Rojo” (The Red Horse) is the most famous restaurant of the city or that the road that connects the city to Cerro Muriano is called “the Horse road”. Saying Pure Spanish Horse and Andalusian Horse is denoting the same thing. The Andalusian Horse, or should we say the Córdoba Horse (on account of its origin), after centuries of care and meticulous breeding would earn the title of Pure Spanish Horse.
For a long time, in order to research the past, going to libraries was an unavoidable necessity. Finding old pictures of a city constituted an almost archaeological task, one even had to ransack every known antiquarian and flea market. However, and fortunately, it all belongs now to the past, thanks to the Internet and especially the social networks.
Perhaps it had to do with the fact that both Spain and Russia were the only two Nations capable of facing Napoleon at the peak of his power and defeat him –fighting two fronts at the same time might have also helped–; in any case it seems quite a coincidence that, during the XIXth century, Russian culture would develop such an interest for a relatively small, unknown and far away Nation: Spain.
Out of all the Ferdinand churches of Córdoba, although all of them are very interesting, there is one in particular that you should not miss: the church of San Pablo. This one is by far the biggest of them all, there are even some people that state that such a size is due to the original intention to turn the church into the Cathedral of Córdoba.
What lead, in 1905, grand personalities such as Augusto Rodin, Zuloaga, Pío Baroja o Darío de Regoyos to visit Córdoba, back then a decaying and forgotten city? Perhaps they were invited by Inurria the sculptor; or maybe they were looking for the inspiration needed for new books and paintings. It had nothing to do with the previous motives.
Tourism is as old as cities –or at least most cities–. Greeks, for example, went on pleasure trips to attend the Games in the city of Olimpia. And Romans were very fond of baths and would travel long distances in order to enjoy them.
I’d like to take this opportunity, now that the world cup trophy is in Russia, to talk about the soviet painters that visited Córdoba. There is little romanticism about it, they were painters coming from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the 60’s and 70’s of the past century and, back then, not just anybody could go out of the country, much less artists, all-time suspects to the strict eye of the Soviet regime.
How come beer is served in big pint or half pint glasses north of the Pyrenees and here in Spain we pull it in little glasses called cañas? Germans and Englishmen, most Europeans in general, are usually shocked the first time they see the minimalistic size of the glasses here; and then they usually ask for the biggest glass in the bar, and that is their mistake. They have forgotten the first rule when traveling and that is: “wherever you go, do what you see.” It is not that we drink less beer –although it could very well be– it is simply that we drink it in smaller glasses.
Here once again in Málaga, I’m staying in an apartment at Ferrándiz street, a long street that grows directly from the Victoria square, right from the same spot where Amargura (Bitter) street starts off, and leads directly to the square of Christ of the Epidemics (What a country!).
Let’s start by saying that Sigurd Curman was the great mind behind the restoration of Swedish monuments, similar to what Viollet-le-Duc did in France –he was the man who restored Notre Dame and the Gothic jewel of Sainte-Chappelle in Paris–; or Ruskin in England with his numerous publications on restoration; Aloís Riegl in Vienna, Camilo Boito in Italy or Velázquez Bosco in Spain.
“You want fame, but fame costs and right here is where you start paying, with sweat.” Such where the opening words of that mighty TV show from the 80’s Fame. And that is also how this great adventure started, back in 2005. This month of May Hotel Viento10 has entered Trip Advisor’s Hall of Fame after winning the Certificate of Excellence five times in a row. This certificate is only awarded to those hotels that receive the most positive reviews and to those that year after year provide an excellent traveler experience.
It is not the oldest in the country but the Córdoba Fair is old nonetheless. It was a privilege awarded by king Sancho IV in 1322, and it gave the city permission to hold two annual fairs: “the first one on White Sunday or Pentecost (the 21st of May) and a second one the 8th of September where, traditionally, farmers and nearby villagers gather to buy and sell cattle and goods from all over the country so that they can fulfill their contracts.”
The Córdoba mutiny of the Bread occurred in May of 1652, it is normally explained by black plague outbreaks and the outrageous price of the basic goods during those harsh years. This version of the facts, coined by Ramírez de Arellano, is widely accepted; it is even considered as one of the first popular riots in Europe of its kind echoing throughout the continent influencing, in some ways, the French revolution and the recent May 1968 events.
Even though this video became trending topic when the Córdoba film production company “12 frames” released it to the public, the truth is that it barely reached 15,000 views during this long period of time. Therefore it is very likely that you haven’t seen the video yet.
Trevor Haddon might possibly be the last romantic traveler to draw the city of Córdoba. There is but a few lines on this British artist in the Wikipedia (there is nothing as far as Spanish goes):
The festivities of May in Córdoba come to an end with the Fair of la Salud (Our Lady of Health) and the announcing poster is very important, a true tradition. These posters have evolved in design, adjusting throughout time to the particular fashion of every period of history, as well as in format. The first ones –as of today genuine gems for collectors– were made in a big format that would easily reached 2 meters in height, following in the footsteps of bullfighting posters, with which they had to compete, and were usually made in lithographs. Those are specially valuable for collectors as they are of great beauty.
You’ve successfully studied our language and, quite satisfied, you go out to practice and show what you’ve learned to the world. However, to your surprise, in the city you are in, you hardly understand half of what you hear. Take a deep breath, you’ve got to understand it is not your fault, every city in Spain has its own slang and accent. As far as Córdoba goes, it may not be as rich but it sure is used heavily. Now, I’ve written a short story using as much Córdoba slang as possible so in the near future you can identify the local tongue and be able to get by in any given conversation.
To History and popular knowledge the conquest of Muslim Córdoba is marked by the great feat of the Colodro Gate. Now disappeared, the gate was part of the wall of the Northern Axerquía, where a group of almogavars –of Saracen origin, they were light infantry shock troops heavily involved during the Reconquista– climbed and stormed the city for the first time. This is all true but it doesn’t end there, the story of the assault is a bit longer than that. It lasted all night and at dawn the militia from Martos (Jaen) managed to storm Puerta del Sol (the Sun Gate) –from that point forward known as Puerta de Martos (Martos Gate), also disappeared– and entered the city through our dear Viento street; back then it led to that famous gate.
Jan Banning, the dutch photographer, is known worldwide by his series of pictures of workers and his excellent portraits. One of his most famous series, “RED UTOPIA”, portraits offices of the communist party all over the world; a propaganda search of the remains of communism, 100 years past the Russian Revolution.
This past Friday of Sorrows while Javier (BUREAU DELLAFLEUR) was working on Viento10’s floral arrangements for the Holy Week, a conversation came up between Gerardo and him about the color of the flowers.
Nowadays Córdoba is quite an active city. Shows and cultural events are daily programmed throughout the many flourishing spaces the city has to that end. We have gathered here the most relevant sites in the web, so you are at all times informed about what is happening in the city.
If there is a remarkable image of Córdoba in the XIXth century that would be the aerial sight of the city made and then published by Alfred Gesdon in 1853. We were lucky to have been one of the chosen cities for his beautiful stamp catalog.
This forgotten Córdoba artist constituted the key to the renaissance of Talavera ceramic in the beginning of the XXth century. He founded the School of Ceramic of Madrid, directed it and taught there. He is responsible for one of the capital’s distinguishing features: its commercial tiles.
Well, you’ve made it inside and have taken a picture of the forest of columns, now you are ready to begin with the Mezquita. Soon enough, with a quick Google search, you will discover that your picture grows in the Internet by the thousands and, worse, many will be very similar, you might even doubt the authenticity of your own effort. It is, however, something you simply must do to kill the itch. Don’t be shy! Take as many pictures as you want, though you ought to know that they won’t be the best photos you can take of the Mezquita.
Up until now, as noted by José María Báez in “Images and visions of Córdoba” (2012), there were only two known paintings of Regoyos during his stay, alongside with Pío Baroja, in Córdoba. However, it seems there was an other painting. I found out about it by mere chance while surfing the net. Regoyos is considered the best paintor of the 98 generation, also one the most famous Spanish impresionists.
The progressive lost of sight Borges’s father had took the family to an European pilgrimage. They first went to Geneva, where his illness would be treated, and stayed there throughout the Great War. The family will later establish in Mallorca and from there the inseparable Borges brothers went on to live in Seville for almost a year. While in Seville, Norah Borges and his brother Jorge Luis, engage actively in the Ultraist movement. It was then that his first works started to be published by magazines such as Grecia, Ultra y Reflector. In August of 1919, they would visit Córdoba. Their agenda included a rendezvous with the famous Córdoba painter Julio Romero de Torres.
The first time I saw the hydraulic artifact of the Olive tree Fountain I could not believe my eyes, I even had to look for the gardener working in the Patio de los Naranjos:
-Excuse sir!, when did they installed this artifact here?. To which he answered:
-You certainly do not come often around here. This artifact has been here since the XIXth century.
I had to laugh while he insisted: yes sir, since the XIXth century. I visit the Patio de los Naranjos very often since I was only a child and never had I seen such a thing. However, to my embarrassment, the sly gardener was right. In deed that artifact was from the XIXth century. And even though what we now see in the fountain is a contemporary replica, the original, despite broken down and rusted, rests displayed inside the Mezquita.
There is very little industrial heritage in Córdoba for two reasons: Córdoba was never an industrial city, it never had much activity besides some agricultural factories. The second reason has to do with the location. The industrial areas needed to be close to city but could not be inside the city walls. Plus, since the winds in Córdoba blow generally from the West, to avoid fumes and pollution in the rest of the city, factories were placed only in the North and East (Ollerías Avenue and Ronda del Marrubial).Two chimneys are the Córdoba’s sole survivors, they outlived progress and city expansion throughout the XXth century. The most popular is known as the Chimeneón, or simply big Chimney, a vague memory of the olive oil industrial complex that Aceites Carbonell had next to the Malmuerta Tower.
The first issue we face when looking up restaurants on-line in Córdoba would be choosing the right Córdoba in the world. For instance, Córdoba, Argentina, has five times the population of our city, so it is likely that its presence on-line would be at least five times bigger. However, you can narrow the search by simply writing “Mezquita” right next to “Córdoba”; Andalucía, Moriles, Salmorejo… will also do.
It is curioues how the only catholic Queen born in Córdoba went down in History as the “Discreet Queen” and she came in to this world during “the Fair of the Discreet”, that is also the title of a Pío Baroja’s novel set in Córdoba –an author profoundly acquainted with the nature and intimacies of the city. A strange coincidence that links the city to a certain quality: “Discretion”.
Columns are not mere things standing straight. They are keystone to every building, they have always been valuable and demanded objects. History is full with testimonies that tell us how they were precious presents among kings, and ambassadors would carry them in their ships when sailing too far away lands as gifts.
Córdoba has been awarded a World Heritage Site in three occasions by the UNESCO, and not only because of the Mezquita. Its rich heritage remains mostly unseen, it would be a tremendous effort to bring it all out to meet the eye. Not even ourselves, born and raised in this city, know half of what lies beyond many walls and doors. The monumental Plaza de la Compañía (the Square of the Society) is one of those cases. Despite its grand nature and its great location, right in the commercial sector of the city, it is barely visited by tourists due to the fact that its doors are firmly closed every weekend. What you see is what it will be for you.
There is no knowing for sure if ever the arcs of the north facade of the Mezquita were open to the Patio de los Naranjos. It was Ambrosio de Morales the first to note the issue around the XVIth century. Although, later, the Arab chronicles of the building confirmed it. The truth is that the mere thought of it comes with a poetic and monumental vision. For a long time there has been many who have tried to keep the left spans of the Mezquita from holding new chapels, so they could be cleared away towards the Patio de los Naranjos.
This is the only picture taken in Córdoba by the best photographer of the XXth century: Henri Cartier-Bresson, L’oeil du siècle.
Vu Magazine sent Cartier to cover the Spanish elections of 1933. However, once in Spain, the photographer noticed social phenomena beyond politics that needed to be seen and captured by the camera: poverty, prostitution, abandoned buildings, abandoned human beings sleeping in public places just like those he captured in France, Italy, Mexico and the USA.
Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as “Le Corbusier”, architect, theoretician, designer and crucial artist of the XXth century, also felt compelled by the Mezquita, by its structure and clear spaces. We could even speculate, on account of the signs he left us, that the Mezquita would have strongly influenced the way he thought of architecture. Le Corbusier visited Spain in several occasions. First in 1928, invited by the Students Residence in Madrid to give two conferences: “Architecture, Furniture and Works of Art” and “A House-a Palace”. He did not travel further south that time. It was not until 1930, during a tour of the Mediterranean coast along with Fernand Léger (the painter) his brother Albert and his cousin (and also partner at the time) Pierre Jeanneret, that he got to know Andalusia.
I know that the philosopher’s stone is only a myth built on human greed, but, nonetheless, for centuries it was said and believed that this legendary alchemical substance would turn any given metal, such as lead, into gold. It was also believed to be an elixir that would grant eternal life and youth. For many centuries it was also the most ambitioned end to most alchemists. The philosopher’s stone symbolizes perfection to its purest form, the spiritual enlightenment and divine happiness. Those efforts to discover the philosopher’s stone were known as Opus magnum (“Great work”)
Everything in Viento10 is pure sensuality. We capture the world with our five senses (well… perhaps six), they mean the tools with which we build sensations, we tell beauty from ugliness, hot from cold, soft from hard...
We design your stay with each one of the five senses in mind and we take care of every little detail. It is not easy to keep up with this city of patios and flowers.
It is not a surrealist manifesto, it is only a photograph and probably one of my biggest headaches. I had a good time though, and I learned plenty about my city. It was taken by the famous photographer J. Laurent, a Frenchman that settled in Spain around 1855 to whom we owe the photographic feature of the entire peninsula before the XXth century. The caption in the photo says it is “The Door to the Mihrab or the Mosque Sanctuary”. The photo is kept safe in the archives of the Ministry of Culture. It must be the Mihrab of the Mezquita!
The XVth century brought changes to Fine Arts and particularly to Painting. Gothic Art, its forms of representation (sculpture, glass and tesseras), was showing signs of depletion. That and the availability of new techniques such as oil painting or perspective were already giving notice that Painting will become the main form of representation up until the “recent” development of photography.
Albert Kahn (1860- 1940), besides a banker of Jewish background, was a philanthropist and a cultural promoter. In 1898, at the age of 38, he decided to start “The Archives of the Planet”, a universal project thought to be a dream that he made it come true. He spent a big part of his fortune filming and documenting the World. He paid for the latest and best equipment so the professionals traveling the Planet could record its landscapes, its monuments and its people. Within this photographic and cinematographic atlas of the World, there are 76 pictures of Córdoba taken in 1914.
Now that we so desperately need to review and strengthen the idea of Spain, I search the words of the minds of our past, new old reasons that will help me understand this dreadful and immoral political context. It is a strange country, Spain.
This search took me through numerous authors, and I didn’t know what it was I was looking for until I run into one of Azorín’s books. Inside I found a beautiful description of Córdoba that soothed me. Azorin’s words build a clean and brief image of the city, a delicate, almost frail, touch containing the right amount of color and meaning. I walked the city inside my heart. It is a circle, every word is where it needs to be and not a comma is unneeded.
This first edition of FLORA brought 8 international floral artists that transformed the Festival’s chosen patios into 8 unrecognizable stunning spaces. Located in some of the most representative buildings of Córdoba, this works have resulted in a delightful little tour through memory, art and heritage. These ephemeral floral installations will be open to the general public from the 20th to the 29th of October.
I am almost certain that at least one of you have heard of Gabi Delgado, well, that is if you are my age and have partied the night like my generation has. In my mind still echoes that little big pub in the old Jewish hood, “Varsovia” was the name back in the 80’s: cutting edge stuff.
Gabi Delgado was born in Córdoba in 1958, right in Manríquez street, or so the king said in a recent interview. He spent his childhood here but in 1966, he parted alongside his family to Germany (just like many other families did then). It is there, however, that his musical career starts; with time he would become one of the most influential musician in Germany.
The Mezquita is the finest patrimony the city of Córdoba has. It is important for many reasons: it is the oldest building still in use in Spain; it shows the fusion of great civilizations that were able to cohabit in harmony at the time; it is a symbol to the Islamic world; and it also represents an architectonic reference that even nowadays leaves architects from all over the world in awe.
The circular bench made with the famous ceramic from Talavera that today slowly decays forgotten in the Agriculture Gardens (Los Patos), acted, back in 1925, as the limit enclosing the local Seneca public library. The library was but a small hexagonal hall containing little more than 2000 books that remained open until 1963. Then the library was demolished on account of prostitution being held in the premises at night. The circular bench is the only reminiscence of it, now rotting away because of idle institutions.
Despite the original building (1979) was to be located in the mountains near Córdoba (you can look it up above; the MOMA keeps the project plans safe), it was finally build 40 kilometers from Seville in 2004, in La Roda (between the regions of Burguillos, Guillen and El Ronquillo).
Summer fades away, temperatures decrease and a gentle breeze cools the punished earth of Córdoba, and this will last until Christmas. Summers are very hard to endure, in exchange –you can call it justice– the remaining seasons treat us kindly and we can finally walk the streets at any hour. This Fall, just like any other Fall in Córdoba, opens with poetry: the Cosmopoética Festival.
What is it that fascinate us so much about M.C. Escher? His impossible paintings and surreal mosaics seem to lack a expire date. There are a millions replicas of his drawings circulating the web, especially those reflecting his tours around Córdoba and Granada. Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M.C. Escher, traveled to Spain for the first time in 1926 and visited the Alhambra of Granada. He took many notes during his stay there and made sketches of its famous mosaics.
José de la Vega, whose real name was Joseph Penso de la Vega Pasariño, was a Jewish merchant and writer. He was born in Espejo (Córdoba) around 1650, probably, into a Jewish family from Portugal or Galicia. One of many new Christians families that converted in Spain. He successfully engaged in trade and finances, though, he was also a fine author.
The biography of our most distinguished and universal writer, Miguel de Cervantes, gets eaten away by the mist of time. There are but a few true and verified facts about the life of the great author. Countless scholars and investigators have been trying desperately to disentangle the puzzled enigma of his life in order to build an honest portrait of Don Miguel. For instance, although it is not certain, many believe him to have been born in Córdoba.
For us, natives, it is hard to believe there are people willing to visit the city in July and August. I feel for them. They decided summer time was the best time to come and explore Córdoba. And I guess it is all right, vacations cannot always take place whenever we would like them to be. Besides, visitors will eventually leave, and that makes it less of a tragedy. Nevertheless, since we do have to endure this hellish temperatures year after year, we have learned valuable little tricks to go through summer unharmed. Here is a basic guide to enjoy a tour in Córdoba: the Summer laws.
“A diverse group of about fifteen or twenty people seated any way we can on improvised benches of all sorts or even on the floor of the “Plaza del Potro”, enjoying a cool, calm and warm mood after a long satisfying, yet tiring, day's work. Most of them are young boys and girls from every corner of the world that have come to Córdoba with the sole purpose of taking the intensive guitar course that we are organizing in the “Posada del Potro”. There are also people from Córdoba, some friends and family of mine and neighbors from nearby streets that have joined us, attracted by the music and, maybe, the never-ending wine from the cellar of my dear friend Enrique Santos.”
We dealt recently with Ronald Kitaj and his chiquita piconera, today we shall talk about another great British Pop character: David Hockney. He too made his peculiar grand tour around the romantic Andalucía. It was in spring of 2004 when he visited the three Andalusian architectural treasures: Córdoba, Granada and Seville.
Romanticism (flourishing at end of the XVIII century and beginning of the XIX century) would wake up the interest of many artist for the far and exotic lands, Andalucía would be among those unexplored and raw places. Cities like Córdoba would serve as inspiration for artists. In exchange for that the cities gained a portrait, living memories quite helpful when investigating our past.
The fact that the outdoor cinema (or summer cinema) in Córdoba had not stopped showing movies since its foundation in the twenties of this past century, creates an unique environment for cinema in the city. It is an old summery tradition with deep roots in its citizens. Back in the fifties, for example, more than fifty cinemas of this kind cohabited in Córdoba.
Solitude, that despicable flaw with which the new Contemporary Art Center of Córdoba was born, seems to have sentenced it–temporarily, I hope– to suffer the Sacunda curse (the curse harvesting and separating life and death in the city for more than a thousand years). However, far from harming the works of Pepe Espaliú, this solitude comes to strengthen them with some sort of a sound presence that multiplies the emotions of its viewing.
Wikipedia states that Antoine Alexandre Henri Poinsinet was born in Fontainblue the 17th of November of 1735 and drowned in the Guadalquivir, in Córdoba, the 7th of June of 1769. The French playwright and librettist of the great Philidor –to whom Wikipedia dedicates more space trying to make sense of his odd character than to his work– would be the lead character in this curious story that happened very close to Hotel Viento10.
Ronald Kitaj may not be as popular as his close friend David Hockney, and yet he is the one who introduced the School of London to the world by that same name. The school of London gathered pop British painters such as Allen Jones, Boshier, Caufield, Peter Phillips, etc.
The “errand Jew”, as he often spoke of himself, born in Ohio, although later would take on the British citizenship, first heard of Spain to his mother who befriended the brigadiers that fought in the Republican side during the Civil War. He visited Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Costa Brava) in 1957, it was then that his relationship with the Spanish culture begun and it would last 20 years.
Let's go to the Fair
The Fair of Nuestra Señora de la Salud of Córdoba takes place during the last week of May (from the 20 to the 27 of May). It is the highpoint of a month (May) full of celebrations that ends with a color explosion along the banks of the Guadalquivir river. Although far enough not to cause any discomfort to the hotel, it is, however, close for anyone to walk there and enjoy a lively time.
What do they have in common: the word Córdoba and cordovan, cordon and cordonnier (shoemaker in french). Well all of them derive from the name CÓRDOBA. Just imagine the prestige and relevance that leathers from Córdoba reached during the Middle Ages all over the known world.
Grids and Balconies contest.
In a way the popularity of the Córdoba May Patio Festival has outshone a very important part of this popular contest. Along with the Patio Festival is also held the Popular Contest of Córdoba's Grids and Balconies.
Walks are a perfect match for the city of Córdoba, they constitute a vital part of the city's soul, part of its character too. No wonder Córdoba remains among the 150 cities where this famous walk takes place. Jane's Walk act as an initiative after Jane Jacobs, a re-known activist that rethought how life quality in the cities was measured.
Just like watching the Chinese feeding on grasshoppers some may be disgusted by the mere sound of it: snails in their own sauce. However it is among the most popular traditions in Córdoba, believe or not “caracoles en su salsa” is a pure delicacy. An ancient tradition, there is no such thing as an Andalucía without snails. Farmers grew them in the fallow lands, they throw pieces of rubble or big simple tiles on the ground and snails place their home underneath them. There they are left to thrive until Spring comes and the insides of these tiles and rubble are revealed, then snails are harvested. In the southern parts of Spain it is quite normal to find them safely glued to the shade of prickly pears.
Cordoba has more than 500 hectares of green zones and 82.000 trees distributed throughout the city. These astonishing figures come from the 44th National Conference of Public Parks and Gardens that is taking place these days in Córdoba. Within this vast number of trees there are unique ones in the city that, just like the Synagogue or La Mezquita, are worth a visit.
When promenading in Córdoba look not only what is in front of or above you. The floors are a distinguishing mark of the city. I am referring to the popular and historic pavement of its streets, squares and patios. There are three kinds of historical floors that have their root deep into Córdoba's beginnings.
Under the category of “Iglesias Fernandinas” fall all the churches that Fernando III commanded to be built in Córdoba after the city was finally captured from the Muslims in 1236. The buildings are in-between Romanesque and Gothic architecture: a must for anyone that enjoys art and history. The churches are of a strong appearance, almost fortresses. Many are build in the same place of prior mosques using the same elements for the new construction.
Friends, even though the Chinese wish to emulate our “jamón” and, in the oak groves of Texas, the Americans are already at it, I am not overstating myself by saying Spain is without a doubt the mother of all “jamones de pata negra”. Even more so now that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment granted for the first time the “Spanish Food Award to the Best Jamón of 2016”, the categories were “Jamón de bellota ibérico” and “Jamón Serrano or other Acknowledged Quality Figures”. The winner for the “Jamón de bellota ibérico” was the Jamón de bellota 100% ibérico “Encinares del Sur” from the protected designation of origin Los Pedroches (Córdoba). As of today we can officially state that Córdoba is home to the best Jamón in the World.
“The cask of Amontillado” is the famous title of one of the best stories of Edgar Allan Poe, a tale of vengeances in which a cask of Amontillado lures the victim into a most gruesome fate. Well, my friend, you are indeed in the land of this desired wine. The Amontillado, along with the Pedro Ximénez, is the crown jewel of the winery Montilla Moriles. Although they are not easy to find, nor even in its own country. It is only in certain taverns and bars where one might be able to enjoy such an exquisite wine.
Córdoba plays a powerful role in the world of Photography, having its highpoint during International Photography Biennial of Córdoba. This XVIth edition the Biennial will focus on war images. Between the 23rd of March and the 21st of May a wide range of activities will be taking place in Córdoba: workshops, documentaries of warlike conflicts, book presentations, conferences, round tables.
Walking is not only a kind recommendation but of the utmost necessity if you wish to truly know and enjoy Cordoba. Its tangled urban scene takes us again and again to the days of the Caliphate. We shall not see squared blocks nor parallel streets, instead an enormous and rich treasure lays at our feet waiting to be seen when passing by. The old city is big and round and this roundness happily result in walkable distances. Paseo is Cordóba's middle name.
When talking about ancient bells we ought to establish two different categories. The first category would apply to oldest bells in general, without taking into consideration their current use or disuse. The second category would account for oldest bells still ringing at the top of a bell tower nowadays. It is to this second category that the famous bell “Wamba”, from the Cathedral of Oviedo, belongs to. In fact, the bell preceded the bell tower: it was molten in 1219.
Because of the correspondence he had with his wife Clotilde when he travels, we know that Joaquín Sorolla visited Córdoba for the first time at the end of march in 1902. “Impressions are so fast and so many that my head feels like a madhouse. We treated ourselves to such an artistic binge in Córdoba” he writes in one of the letters.
Inscribed in 2012 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Fiesta of the Patios in Córdoba brings us every spring the rejuvenated essence of the city, with its traditional joie de vivre.
It is around the middle of the XIXth century when marking the streets with personal names becomes a fashion. A questionable fashion that allowed Governments trends to do and undo almost at will since then. Before that, names were chosen by the actual users of those spaces. The names of streets and squares would traditionally tell us about their origin, purpose or common use; one could always relate to a story underneath.