This unique tour in Cordoba was launched last year after being opened by the Spanish Royal Family, and there can be no better way to describe it; “The Soul of Cordoba”.
El Alma de Córdoba is a display of projections, light and music; reminiscent of the “son et lumiere” spectacles of the Chateaux of the French Kings in the Loire Valley. Each visitor (numbers are limited to 80, so it´s never too crowded) is given their own headset with a running commentary in their chosen language that activates automatically as the ushers guide you into and around the astonishing Great Mosque of Cordoba.
I have entered the imposing Mesquita several times and was always struck by its grandeur and complicated balance of architectural styles but this night visit sits in a different league and exposes brilliantly the deep soul and steadfast roots of the building itself.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the tour is that everyone enters into their own little world and filters the visual effects and audio track through their own cultural perception. There is no guide attempting, with a strained voice, to communicate the history, no strong foreign accent to contend with, and no impertinent questions from fellow visitors interrupting your train of thought. 80 individuals, all interpreting according to their measured interest; this visit becomes highly personal.
There is much talk of spirituality, prayer, light and devotion, many references to Allah and the Holy Trinity and yet each guest only takes away what he or she is willing to believe.
With the tour being designed by the Cathedral of Cordoba, there is a slightly heavier weight placed on the Great Christian achievement as the tour ends in the Renaissance Latin Cross church that sits in the middle of the edifice. Having said that, I was impressed by how much air time the former Mosque is given and by the overruling sensitivity to the world of Islam.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba has lived through turbulent times but the memory of its creators, from all walks of faith, persists. As one enters in almost total darkness, the lighting design reveals with extraordinary effectiveness the beating heart and soul of this hybrid house of worship.
El Alma de Cordoba achieves all of its aims, one of them being to encourage more overnight visitors to the city. It worked with me, as I am writing this the morning after the night before, having splurged on a night at the creatively restored Palacio Del Bailío hotel, part of the Hospes chain. It´s stunning from head to foot; the perfect accompaniment to a visit of the Heart and Soul of Córdoba.
You can enjoy this experience on our “day” tour to Cordoba, with the option of making it a “sleepover” with overnight accommodation included. Cordoba also features heavily in our forthcoming Classic Andalucia Tour with Seville, Granada and Cordoba. click here to learn more about the tour