. . . and a few murderous sites for a good mystery!
Cordoba, an oasis after our car made its way through the dusty, barren hills on the drive from Malaga Airport. We arrived early enough, but the hotel I booked, while appearing charming, was in the center of the old district and difficult to reach. The only garage we could find was beyond the modern part of Cordoba.
That oops! in my plan, repeated several times, would dog us at each stop of the trip. I’m sure everyone already knows that when a hotel is downtown, it’s better to park the car farther away and take a taxi. In this case, the hotel desk clerks told us of a closer garage. I’ll mention these tidbits often over the next few blogs, if only to remind myself!
The Hotel Boutique Caireles was very clean and efficient, a refuge from the busy tourists on the streets. The large room with a window opening on the street below was so close you could probably touch the wall of the Mezquita, the “Mosque/Cathedral” of Cordoba. The desk clerks at the hotel were very helpful and reserved evening shows for the flamenco dancers and Andalusian stallions.
If I chose to drop a body here, I think I would put it in the elevator. The elevator shaft was filled with music and conversations much of the day and into the night, emanating from the Burger King next door, . There, the victim, would not lay long without being discovered (the stink might make the rooms intolerable, though). On the other hand, the corpse would be entertained while waiting for angels to accompany him up — or down.
Culturally, the Andalusians are famous for flamenco dancing, ruffled dresses rustling, large combs supporting lacy mantillas. They’re also known for their trained stallions.
During the day, we would be able to look for souvenirs. Shopping is great in most of the Spanish cities because of the reasonable prices and the intricate designs of their Muslim past. But that’s not all we did . . .
We also spent the days exploring the rich history in the old town — the centuries of relative peace between numerous conflicts was fascinating, and there were plenty of places to see the results today. Before the 13th century, Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived together in relative harmony here as in most of Spain. During that century, there were signs of change in the rest of Europe. The Roman Church began to flex its muscles, ousting non-Christians from much of northern Europe. Soon, it convinced Spanish Christians that Jewish and Muslim citizens must either convert to Catholicism or be expelled. Many Jews chose conversion, but continued to follow their ancient practice in secret. In the Jewish center, we saw how Jews and Muslims were treated badly even after conversion. The Spanish Inquisition would soon change everything.
All this history inspires me to write a historical mystery.
We visited a museum in the Jewish quarter with many artifacts and personal stories, meticulously chronicled. The ancient Jewish synagogue nearby was closed when we were there for restoration to its original purpose.
Before lunch, we sauntered through the Alcazar, a Muslim castle redecorated as a Papal palace. The tower still shows how easy it was to torture and manage public executions during the Inquisition. The gardens and bathhouse are magnificent, larger bushes and trees providing shade in the noonday sun.
The perfume of jasmine shrubs, often cloying, fills the nostrils in a not – so – pleasant manner — like the smell of death clinging to the a medical examiner’s skin. ~ ~ Sorry, I got carried away with my imagery again ~ ~
Finally, we entered the gates of the Mezquita. Tickets were easy to buy in October, where warm showers sometimes erupt during the day. (The lines would be, no doubt, longer in July and August.) Inside, the darkness contrasted sharply with the intense sun outside. The towering arches were majestic with their red and white ornamentation. Visitors can almost imagine Muslims bowing in prayer on small rugs. Around the next corner, the bright, shiny Catholic cathedral comes into view. In the sanctuary, polished metals juxtaposed with black carvings. The cathedral built inside the mosque reminds the worshipers of the dominance of the Catholic Church over all of their lives.
Yes, a body would do well, lying peacefully across the floor of either place of worship. But alas, this reminds me I have already written about finding a body in a historical Italian church.
As a mystery author, I find that in order to write my mysteries and locate the books all over the world, I must discover spots where I feel comfortable depositing my poor victims.
Solution: My choice for this spot in Cordoba is: The Alcazar pool or garden where heavenly beauty captures the victim’s soul and, hopefully, that of the reader’s too.
NEXT MONTH’S BLOG ~~ GRANADA, SPAIN