Cordoba is situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, in Southern Spain, in the region of Andalusia. It was settled in Roman times and has been under the control of Visigoths, Moors from Africa and Christians. All three monotheistic religions have left their mark on the city. The historic city center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the Islamic era from the 8th century to 1236, Cordoba became a seat of learning and the largest city in Europe. The city has a Mediterranean climate and the highest average summer temperatures in Europe, at 37 degrees Celsius.
1.Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba
This temple monument is currently a Catholic Church in the Diocese of Cordoba and goes by several names. It is known as the Great Mosque of Cordoba and the Mezquita. The first church on the site was built by the Visigoths. When the Moors first conquered the area, they shared the space with the Christians but subsequently purchased it outright. A mosque was built to rival those in Baghdad, Jerusalem and Damascus. It was enlarged several time before the Christian Reconquistas retook the land and converted the building to a Catholic church. The layers of history are evident in the building.
C/. Cardenal Herrero 1, 14003 Córdoba, Phone: +34-9-57-47-05-12
On the western outskirts of Cordoba are the ruins of a vast, fortified Moorish palace-city. It was built between 936 and 940 by the first Caliph of Cordoba, as a symbol of power and prestige. It was designed to be superior to those of his rivals in North Africa and Baghdad. The complex comprised a mosque, a mint, government offices, workshops, barracks, homes and baths. An aqueduct brought water to the city. It was sacked in 1010 and then left abandoned. Parts of the buildings were used elsewhere. In 1910 excavations started and to date about 10% of the 112 ha site has been charted.
While excavating to expand the Town Hall in Cordoba, the remains of a Roman Temple were discovered. It is a large structure, 32 m by 16 m, and is thought to have been built over forty years, starting in the time of Emperor Claudius (41-54) AD. It was built on a raised podium with six columns at the entrance and ten down each side. Only the foundation, some of the columns and the altar remained. The temple has been partially reconstructed. Parts of the original building can be found in museums and around the city.
Cordoba Templo Romano, Calle Capitulares, Córdoba 14003, Phone: +34-9-57-20-17-74
The Roman Bridge across the Guadalquivir River was built in the first century. It is thought to have carried the Via Augusta, the road that linked Rome to Cadiz on the Iberian coast. The bridge has been reconstructed several times, even as late as Medieval times. Most of what remains was constructed by the Moors in the 8th century. It is 247 m by 9 m and currently has 16 arches. There were originally 17 but only two of those remain. Most of the arches are rounded but four are pointed. A statue of St Raphael was placed at the halfway point in the 17th century.
5.Torre De Calahorra
The tower on the left bank of the Guadalquivir River was first mentioned during the time of the Christian conquests of the 13th century. It was established in order to control movement over the Roman Bridge. A tower, moat and drawbridge were added in the 14th century. Changes were made to accommodate the new gunpowder weaponry of the 15th century. It was subsequently used as a prison, barracks and girls' school. It currently houses the Al Andalus Living Museum and enjoys the highest preservation protection in the land. The museum showcases Andalusian culture and the collaboration between Christian, Jews and Muslims.
Torre de la Calahorra, Puente Romano , 14009 – Córdoba, Phone: +34-9-57-29-39-29
6.Bridge Gate / Puerta del Puente
© Visual Intermezzo/stock.adobe.com
This gate originally formed part of the city walls. After the Christian conquest in the 13th century, it was made into a gateway for the road leading south out of Cordoba. It was called Algeciras Gate. In the 14th century it was redesigned in grand monumental style, in honor of the visit of Philip II. The door has a lintel and a curved,carved pediment above it. On either side are two columns, raised on platforms. It is open to the public. There is a permanent exhibition telling the story of the bridge. A balcony at the top level affords visitors a view of the city.
Andalusia has a reputation for gastronomical delights. Seafood, Mediterranean vegetables, olive oil, nuts and cheeses are combined in a myriad of ways that create the culinary culture of the region. Tapas are snacks or samples of the variety of dishes available. Several dishes would be presented for a main course or group dinner, paired with local wines. Tapas tours can be self-guided or led by a local tour guide. Several restaurants are visited in an evening. This gives restaurants opportunities to show off their signature dishes and for visitors to experience several restaurants in a short space of time.
8.Courtyards - patios
The annual Festival of the Courtyards in Cordoba, in early May, is an Intangible World Heritage Event. Visitors walk around the historic city center and get a glimpse into the way of life of the residents. Courtyards are traditionally used for dining al fresco and socializing. Each year, participants compete and grow a profusion of spring, early summer and perennial flowering plants in the courtyards. During the daytime they are a feast for the eyes and at night the fragrances of jasmine and orange blossoms come into their own. Tours can be arranged through the Visitors' Center at other times of the year.
9.The Palace of Viana de Cordoba
This palace, built in the 15th century, was the home of nobility until 1980. The incumbent Marquise tried to sell the palace surreptitiously on the foreign market. The local authorities got wind of his plans and came to an arrangement to acquire the palace for posterity, along with all the furniture, paintings, tapestries, ceramics and other artifacts. These are on view in the museum on the first floor. The palace is renowned for its 12 patios or mini-gardens which offer welcome shade in summer. They all have different characteristics and tell the history of the occupants through the ages.
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10.Alley of the Flowers
One of the most popular images of Cordoba is the Alley of Flowers. It is situated in the Jewish Quarter, not far from the Mezquita. The alley is narrow and is best viewed in early May when countless pots of geraniums adorn the walls. In the mid 1900s an architect created simulated sidewalks, created arches and recesses and painted all the cottages white to best show off the flowers. Many of the old houses are now souvenir shops. The alley ends in a square containing a fountain, which is a private courtyard. The iconic view skyward is of the Cathedral's bell tower.
© Horváth Botond/stock.adobe.com
The synagogue was built in 1315 and was used for worship until the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. It is a small building indicating that it was either for the use of a wealthy family or a trade guild. The entrance hall is off a small courtyard. Stairs lead to the women's gallery while the men worshiped in the main hall on the ground floor. The walls are adorned with motifs, scriptures and decorative plaster work. It was later used as a hospital for patients with rabies before it became the chapel for the shoemakers' guild. It was declared a National Monument in 1855 and has subsequently been restored.
12.Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
The Castle of the Christian Monarchs was built by King Alfonso of Castile in 1328. It has an austere exterior. There are four towers, two of which are square, one is round and the other octagonal. Inside the walls are magnificent gardens and patios. Below the main hall, also known as the Hall of Mosaics are what remains of the royal baths. Columbus met with the monarch in the castle and Napoleon garrisoned his troops there. It has been declared a Cultural Interest Site and is part of the historical center of Cordoba which has been declared a World Heritage Site.
Plaza Campo Santo De Los Mártires S/N. 14004 Córdoba
This neighborhood is in the westernmost sector of the old city. It also known as San Basilio and dates back to the Christian reconquest of 1236. During the 14th and 15th century it became a Jewish ghetto. When the area was cleared it was repopulated with crossbowmen, for defensive purposes and became an experiment in urban planning. Three straight, parallel streets run through the area. The Arab dwellings have a central courtyard with rooms leading off them. The Festival of Patios takes place here. The Castle of the Christian Monarchs and the Royal Stables, birthplace of the Andalusian thoroughbred, are found here.
© Renáta Sedmáková/stock.adobe.com
Manolete, born Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez, came from a family of bullfighters. He was born in San Marina, Cordoba in 1917. He has been feted as possibly Spain's finest matador. He was internationally renowned, having performed in Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. He was a serious bullfighter who devised new and dangerous moves but did not play to the crowd. When he was 30, he was gored through the right leg by a Miura bull, a large animal, bred for fighting. He died in 1947 and has been memorialized by a cluster of statues in the Count of Priego Square.
CORDOBA Plaza del Conde de Priego, Monumento a Manolete 14001
15.Santa Marina Church
© Pierre Violet/stock.adobe.com
This is the oldest of the Fernandine churches and is thought to have been built in the second half of the 13th century. It was built on the site of a Visigothic church and Moorish mosque and has Gothic, Mudéjar and Romanesque features. A litany of disasters befell the church and the parish, including epidemics, earthquakes and fires. After one of the earthquakes Baroque features were added but these were removed when it was subsequently restored to its Medieval appearance. There is a central rose window and the four buttresses in the facade are asymmetrical. It was declared a national monument in 1931.
16.Museo Taurino Cordoba
© GERMAN GONZALEZ/stock.adobe.com
The Bullfighting Museum is housed in Casa de las Bulas, a 16th century, Renaissance mansion. It is situated in Maimonides Square in the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba's historic old town. It has been declared a national monument in its own right. The museum originally showcased handcrafts and craftsmanship but over time became exclusively focused on bullfighting. There are six halls displaying exhibits on the life cycle of the bull, the history of the tradition, arenas, and the top five bullfighters. Items on display include costumes, photographs and the stuffed head of the bull that killed Manolete,a local hero.
Museo Municipal Taurino, Plaza de Maimonides, Phone: +34-957-20-10-56
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17.Botanical Gardens Of Cordoba
© John Hofboer/stock.adobe.com
The 7.5 ha Botanical Gardens are situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. They were established in 1987 and showcase plants from Cordoba, Andalusia and nationally. Visitors of all ages will find plenty to see and do. They can join guided tours and workshops on a range of plant-related topics. There are greenhouses, an arboretum, rose gardens and a stone forest which focuses on fossilized plant life. For sight-impaired visitors, there is an area of plants with textures, fragrances and labels in Braille. Educational programs, research and cultural events are part of the scheduled activities carried out at the gardens.
Avenida de Linneo s / n, Phone: +34-95-72-00-01
18.Museum of Fine Arts
This museum is situated in the Plaza del Potro which dates back to the 13th century. The building in which it is housed was a charity hospital, established in the 15th century. It was also formerly the Archaeological Museum. Much of the artwork was acquired through expropriation from convents in 1835 and 1868. The museum is divided into six rooms and the collections exhibited by century and style. There are examples of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque works on display, including paintings, drawings and sculptures. Many of the works are by artists of Cordoba.
Plaza del Potro, 1, 14002 Córdoba, Phone: +34-9-57-10-36-59
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19.Kayaking in the Guadalquivir River
The kayaking trip starts at the pier at the Botanical Gardens. On land, there is an introductory lesson on safety and rowing techniques. The route passes the San Rafael Bridge and enters the Sotos de la Albolafia, a natural monument of open space. The islands in the river are rich in bird and plant life. One island has been dedicated to sculptures. The Roman Bridge is the turning point on the Guadalquivir River. Along the route are spectacular views of the Mezquita and other cultural and heritage sites. The route is not long so is suitable for all ages.
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19 Best Things to Do in Cordoba, Spain
- Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba, Photo: akulamatiau/stock.adobe.com
- Medina Azahara, Photo: Alfredo/stock.adobe.com
- Roman Temple, Photo: skylarkstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Roman Bridge, Photo: Kess16/stock.adobe.com
- Torre De Calahorra, Photo: tonigenes/stock.adobe.com
- Bridge Gate / Puerta del Puente, Photo: Visual Intermezzo/stock.adobe.com
- Tapas Bars, Photo: click_and_photo/stock.adobe.com
- Courtyards - patios, Photo: Noradoa/stock.adobe.com
- The Palace of Viana de Cordoba, Photo: bennymarty/stock.adobe.com
- Alley of the Flowers, Photo: lapas77/stock.adobe.com
- Synagogue, Photo: Horváth Botond/stock.adobe.com
- Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, Photo: emperorcosar/stock.adobe.com
- Alcazar Viejo, Photo: venemama/stock.adobe.com
- Manolete Monument, Photo: Renáta Sedmáková/stock.adobe.com
- Santa Marina Church, Photo: Pierre Violet/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Taurino Cordoba, Photo: GERMAN GONZALEZ/stock.adobe.com
- Botanical Gardens Of Cordoba, Photo: John Hofboer/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of Fine Arts, Photo: Noradoa/stock.adobe.com
- Kayaking in the Guadalquivir River, Photo: joserpizarro/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: emperorcosar/stock.adobe.com