Landmarks: Cordoba Mosque

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The Independent Culture
One of my favourite buildings is the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. It's in the old part of the city, with houses and hotels crowding right up against the high walls. A smallish road runs round three sides of it and the fourth side faces onto the River Guadalquivir. You can walk over a Roman bridge at sunset and watch the sun go down over the river and the mosque.

It's the outside that I really went for and find most effective, because of the colours and shapes, especially the round horseshoe doorways with the straight lines at the bottom. Their red brick against the sandy-yellow stone of the walls gives a wonderful contrast, as do the highly detailed motifs in the Hispano Umayyad style on the doorways. A lot of the entrances are very decayed, but that's really nice as well, because you have highly decorated bits of stone next to a hole or stone worn away by the wind.

Inside it's like a huge gloomy cavern with a forest of columns. These are made of alternate red and yellow bricks, like candy stripes, which have a very simple, Moorish look to them. Yet bang in the middle is a horrible baroque cathedral effect which the Catholics built in 1400. Charles V gave permission for it to be done but he was horrified with the result and commented that what they'd built could be found anywhere but what they'd destroyed was unique. It's a miracle that the mosque survived the Catholics, which endears it to me. Yet overall it has a very romantic feel. The strong shadows and colours are just right for the way I like to paint.

Jenny Robinson, the artist, has an exhibition running from 14 to 30 May at the Ice House, Holland Park, London W8 (071-924 3679)

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