Travel Theme: Abroad

Moorish Magic

Sunlight filtering through the dome above the mihrab, Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain

Sunlight filtering through the center dome above the maqsura (royal enclosure) in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain. The screened off maqsura is an elongated space in front of the mihrab, the mosque’s prayer room. The elaborately decorated walls and domes of the maqsura were part of the 962–966 CE mosque expansion by al-Hakam II,  the second Caliph of Córdoba. He ruled al-Andalus from 961-976 CE. During his reign, Cordoba flourished as an international center for the arts and science. Hakam amassed a library containing over 400,000 volumes.

Hakam is said to have imported Byzantine artisans  to complete the gilded mosaics.

Join Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Abroad

B&W Sunday: Typical

Moorish Arches in Cordoba

The Mosque/Cathedral of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain

The prayer hall of the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita, combines typical yet innovative features of Moorish architecture in Spain and other regions.  The double arches, a new innovation, combined a typical horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch. The double arches allowed a higher ceiling and more light.  The Mezquita, begun in 784 CE and finished in 997 CE, was completed in four stages. The mosque was expanded both to accommodate the growing Muslim community in Cordoba and to reflect the importance of the city as the capital of al-Andalus, the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula. The crude Corinthian capitals and painted stripes on the arches (rather than actual brickwork) mark this section of the mosque is one of  later additions.

Join Paula’s B&W Sunday: Typical

A Photo A Week: Threes

Three Heads on a Fountain

Three heads on a fountain, Plaça Sant Just, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona,

Barcelona’s Fiveller Fountain is said to date from 1367, although it was reconstructed in the 19th century. Located on tiny Plaça Sant Just in the Gothic Quarter, the fountain’s three medieval faces pucker their lips waiting for water that no long spurts from their mouths. Today, water is supplied by the taps added later.  Fiveller  Fountain is either the oldest or the second oldest municipal water fountain in Barcelona. It is said both to be built with funds given by Joan Fiveller and to honor Joan Fiveller, a powerful 15th-century Barcelona statesman and politician.  Legend has it that Fiveller stumbled on a water source while hunting in the forests of the Collserola and piped the water to the city, at a time when it had serious problems with its water supply. Since Fiveller would have been very young or not yet born in 1367 (his year of birth is not established but he died in 1434), it makes more sense that the fountain was named for him after it was constructed or during a later reconstruction. He was active in municipal and royal government positions from 1406-1427. Fiveller’s Wikipedia biography (translated from Spanish) says Fillever discovered the water source in 1427, not 1367.  He and his family had a palace and a chapel in the Plaça Sant Just.

Looking for information on the Fiveller Fountain I ran into a common problem. Too many internet sites (and published sources shown on the internet) repeat, almost word for word, the same information about a place, person, or building without bothering to look behind the sources. Hence, the question:  how could a fountain have been paid for by a person or named after a person may not have been born at the time it was first built?  Granted, the Fiveller Fountain origins story may be such a  common legend in Barcelona and repeated so often it has become fact.

History, and its iterations, is fascinating.


From the internet: Joan Fiveller (Barcelona XIV century – c. 1434) was director (one of five men who ruled the town of Barcelona) from 1406 to 1427 and chief minister from 1418 to 1419 and from 1427 to 1428.

A Photo A Week: Threes

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