Turquoise Is Widely Used Along With Coral In Jewellery
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Recycled Columns Support The Arches

The cathedral has been the subject of some controversy in the newspapers recently because the Catholic church won’t let Muslims pray there, even though it was a mosque for 500 years.

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Hypnotic Arches In Cordoba Cathedral
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Alter Piece With Shell

Originally a Visigoth church c 600A.D, the structure was bought by Abd ar-Rahman, the Ummayad leader in exile from Syria. Ar-Rahman created the Great Mosque of Cordoba, c784A.D. re-using original Roman and Visigoth columns as a basis. He put a series of double arches in red brick and cream stone on top of the columns, in effect a horse-shoe arch with a semi-circular arch on top. This creates an amazingly hypnotic effect, a bit like being inside an Escher drawing.

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Palm Tree In The Alcazar

Ar-Rahman wrote a poem about a palm tree describing how he felt, like the tree, uprooted from his homeland

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Helen By The City Walls
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Mixed Styles

In 1236 Cordoba fell to King Ferdinand III who turned the mosque back into a church, but kept all the Arabic patterning.This creates some strange cultural mixes, intricate arabic patterning alongside vast numbers of cherubs, crucifixes and Deathsheads.

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What It's All About
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Jaime Casas

Visiting the Casa de Sefarad, a museum mainly focused on Sefardic Jews, we find out a lot more about the history of Muslims and Jews in Spain during the Inquisition because we meet Jaime Casas, an intelligent and enthusiastic man who runs the Museum and is just putting together a room about the inquisition. Coincidentally, we had heard him on a Radio 4 podcast the week before. Helen remembered his name and on asking where we might meet him, found him standing right there.

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Seal Of The Inquisition

Jaime explains that Spain was very racially and culturally mixed at that time with Jews making up about 1/5 of the population. Jews, Muslims and Catholics co-existed, and intermarried, although they didn’t have the same status in society as the Catholics. But all that was about to change. Monty Python joked that “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” but if they had, they would have run away fast.

In 1478 the catholic kings established the Inquisition and used the Alcazar at Cordoba for the first trials.

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Document Appointing Inquisitors
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What The Well Dressed Sinner Is Wearing

It soon became clear that the Inquisition, based on purifying Catholic Doctrine, could only be applied to Catholics. Thus, in order to catch everyone in their net, they forced non-Catholics to convert. However, once converted, the Inquisition then used their non-Catholic heritage against them – so they could not protect themselves or their descendants in any event.

In 1492 the Catholic Kings expelled the Jews and the Muslims from Spain. Some stayed on and became covert converts – even becoming Catholic religious leaders.

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Ornate Prayer Shawl

In the Casa De Sefarad, we find paintings of famous Spanish Jews including Maimonedes. Objects include wedding outfits, musical instruments and a pretty turquoise embroidered prayer cloth

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Ornate Gold Threadwork

The museum also displays fine Moroccan clothing embroidered with Gold thread work, a special technique which was made by Jewish widows.

All the Inquisition stuff left us feeling depressed, all that evil killing and torture when in 2008 DNA tests showed 20% of Spaniards have Jewish heritage, and 10% of Spaniards have North African heritage.

Like Jaime, we are greatful to live in a secular society.

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