There’s a cross roughly carved on the black marble column. There are also signs that, at some point, the column had held a chain.
No one really knows how the cross got there, or who carved it. The column is known as captive’s column.
According to the legend, there was a Christian prisoner tied to this very column that carved the cross onto the marble during his captivity. It’s said he only used his nail as a tool, that the hard marble softened from the strength of his faith.
Some say the man became a prisoner after he burst inside Cordoba’s mosque and condemned Islamism.
Another version talks about a Christian man who worked in the fields and fell in love with a young Muslim girl who bought flowers and fruits from him day after day. When she accepted his marriage proposal they were both punished.
The cross today has a metal grill protection. There’s an inscription next to it (translated from Spanish):
‘With great faith the captive
‘In this hard marble
‘With a nail he marked
‘A crucified christ
‘Being this the mosque church
‘Where he was tortured.’
Next to the inscription, there is an altarpiece, with the image of a kneeling man in chains. His face is burned, and barely visible. I’ve heard that in the past people thought that lighting a fire next to the image’s face caused the captive to start crying.
Obviously, plenty tested the theory.
The captive’s column is one of the most famous legends from the Cordoba-Mosque Cathedral.
I visited the city of Cordoba in southern Spain during the festive holidays while visiting family.
The Cordoba-Mosque Cathedral is a place where two religions merge. The Moorish built it after they invaded Spain in the year 711. They remained in Cordoba until the year 1236, when the city was captured back by the Spanish and the building became a cathedral.
The Mosque turned cathedral combines Moorish architecture with plenty of catholic detail and symbolism. It also has as many legends as it has columns.
Here are a couple of pictures of inside:
Source: Selva Freigedo
During the time of Moorish occupation, Cordoba became the capital of Al-Andalus, how Muslim Spain was known.
It was a city where three cultures and religions (Jewish, Christian and Moorish) coexisted for close to a century. And, a time when the city thrived.
Cordoba became one of the most important economic and intellectual centres in the area during this time.
Walking through Cordoba today, there’s still plenty of evidence of that.
After visiting the Cathedral-Mosque I took a stroll around the Jewish quarter, or la Juderia. It’s a neighbourhood of narrow passages and alleyways filled with shops.
Still today you can visit the synagogue and the zoco, the centre where local artisans display their work.
Through some of the windows you can sometimes sneak a peek at some of the private Cordoba patios, well known for their flowers.
Cordoba is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited.
Founded by the romans it still has some traces from the old Roman Empire.
In front of the mosque-cathedral lies the roman bridge, through which the river Guadalquivir flows. Here is a photo:
Source: Selva Freigedo
The river was key for city life. In fact, you can still see some of the old mills on the side of the river.
Crossing the roman bridge, I noticed the Guadalquivir flows upstream through the bridge with plenty of force.
But when you look at the other side of the bridge, there is an interesting phenomenon going on. The water may flow in with force, but flows downstream asymmetrically.
Meaning on the right side you can see water gushing out. On the left side, water drifts slowly.
Central banks pumping cash into our economic system
I can’t help but think of the economy and central banks.
Central banks around the world have been pumping a lot of cash into our economic system to keep the system going, as you can see below.
Source: Yardeni Research
Yet all this money isn’t flowing out evenly. It has mostly gone into financial assets, creating stock market and property bubbles.
I’ve already seen some evidence of this during my trip to Spain. Once again, there are construction cranes peppering the sky, even though there are still plenty of unfinished and empty properties around left from the previous boom.
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It’s not creating growth
This money has been pumping up assets, but it hasn’t really flowed into the overall economy. It’s not creating more employment or higher salaries. It’s not creating growth.
Now central banks around the world are lowering interest rates, and once again increasing their balance sheet. As you can see in the graph above, the Fed’s balance sheet (red line) has started to increase again after a period of decline.
It will very likely bring more of the same.
The problem with bubbles, is that they tend to pop, drying out the system of money and wiping out fortunes.
I’ve seen photos of the Guadalquivir during a draught, of people standing below the bridge, no water in sight.
It’s hard to imagine this as I watch the river flow furiously downstream, but it happens.
So far, under my feet, water is still flowing.