Lying on the banks of the Guadalquivir (the same river that also crosses Seville), Cordoba is certainly the least known of the important cities of Andalucia. Often "overshadowed" by the fame of Seville and Granada, Cordoba is best known for the spectacular Mezquita, the largest mosque ever built by the Moors then transformed into a Christian church. It is one of the most famous monuments in Spain and alone is worth a trip to Andalucia. In addition to the Mezquita there are also theAlcazar, the Roman bridge and the Juderia (the old Jewish and Arab neighborhoods), but what I personally loved the most are its narrow streets, all white, from which you can glimpse magnificent patios and courtyards, and its relaxed and sly atmosphere. Cordoba is also less touristy than other Andalusian cities, it can be explored on foot and is perfect for a weekend of culture, history and relaxation.
To fully appreciate it, especially if you do not have at least 2 days available, my advice is to participate, as soon as you arrive, to a free city tour (lasts 2h) which will allow you to orient yourself and begin to understand the city.
How to get to Cordoba
By train: The best way to reach Cordoba is by train, as the nearest airports are in Granada, Malaga and Seville. From Malaga it takes 1 hour, from Granada just over 2 hours and from Seville 1 hour and 20. The train station is located north-west of the old city and takes about 15-20 minutes on foot, but you can also take a bus. citizen.
By bus: the long-distance bus station is located near the railway station. The choice of the bus is certainly the cheapest and the times are slightly longer than the train
By car: it is not recommended because the historic center is closed to cars and you will have to leave the car outside the center. There are not many free parking spaces and paid parking costs about 20 euros per day.
Where sleeping in Cordoba
Hotel Los Patios: very central hotel (located right in front of the entrance to the Mezquita), with rooms overlooking a small internal patio. Very nice and comfortable. There is also a nice roof terrace. If you arrive in Cordoba by car, you should leave it in a private parking just outside the walls. There are several.
Where to eat and drink in Cordoba
- Amarre Casual Food & Drinks. Small riverside restaurant with few seats inside but several outside tables. Perfect for a lunch in the sun. The paella is made at the moment and is very good, also the sangria and the other tapas are excellent (they cost around 20-25 euros / pax)
- La Flamenka: it is located a few meters from the Amarre, but unlike the latter it has a beautiful indoor room (as well as the tables outside). The cuisine is creative / gourmet and the atmosphere is young and trendy.
- Entre Olivos: Very nice restaurant in the alleys of the center. Local cuisine with some gourmet reinterpretations. Above average food and service (costs around 25-30 euros / pax)
- Sojo Ribera: This place is located on the riverside and has a nice rooftop with a view, it is perfect for having a drink after dinner.
What to see in Cordoba
The Mezquita of Cordoba is a unique monument in the world and, after being declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, his qualification was further elevated in 2014 to Outstanding Universal Value Asset, recognizing that the temple's religious use ensured the preservation of the monument. In fact, we are not talking about a relic of the past, but about a sacred place open to the world, which later became the Cordoba Cathedral from 1236. It is a huge monumental complex that really leaves you breathless! I had already seen it years ago and I still remembered the wonder I felt. Its history begins as a Visigothic basilica, develops into the largest mosque of the caliphate and culminates in the art of the Gothic, the Renaissance and the Baroque. Absolutely superb are the mihrab (“the altar” of the mosques, indicating the direction of Mecca), the choir and the Capilla Real.
INFO FOR THE VISIT: the Mezquita is open every day from 8:30 to 9:30 free for religious services (but it is not illuminated!), While from 10 the entrance is subject to a fee (10 euros). My advice is to join a guided tour (it costs 12 euros per person and is in Spanish- to be booked at least 24 hours before) because there are so many things to see and understand inside the Mezquita. Plan to dedicate at least 1 hour to the visit. If you plan to visit the Alcazar as well (see below), you can join a guided tour in Spanish that includes both the Mezquita and the Alcazar (costs 20 euros per person and lasts 2 hours).
Alcazar of Cordoba
L'Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos it is a palace / fortress overlooking the Guadalquivir built at the time of the Catholic reconquest. The palace was inhabited by Ferdinand and Isabella (who received Columbus here before his departure), then became the seat of the Inquisition and finally a prison until 1951. Today the palace is quite bare and inside you can find a small museum (with mosaics huge Romans), but you can climb the towers to have a magnificent view of the garden and the center of Cordoba. The most beautiful part of the Alcazar are actually the Moorish-style gardens, with fountains, water basins, orange trees and rose gardens and above all i Caliphal Baths, the ruins of an Arab hammam from the XNUMXth century. In the evening they organize Sound & Light shows.
Roman Bridge and Torre de la Calhorra
Arriving in Cordoba, it is often the first visible monument. The Roman bridge, is a pedestrian bridge built around the XNUMXst-XNUMXnd century over the Guadalquivir and is very beautiful especially in the evening, when it is all lit up. In front of the bridge there is also the Torre de la Calhorra, a medieval tower on which you can climb to have a nice view of the city. The tower also houses a small museum.
The old Jewish quarter of Cordoba stretches between the Mezquita and Paseo de la Victoria and is a fascinating intrigue of whitewashed alleys including the most famous street in Cordoba: Il Callejon de las Flores, with balconies submerged by geraniums. Many of the iconic photos of Cordoba were taken right from here. Along the walls of the old city there is also the synagogue (one of the few surviving the expulsion of the Jews in 1492) and near the Andaluci House, a XNUMXth century building with an elegant patio and several Moorish panels on the walls. It is a house-museum that recreates the Moorish period atmosphere of the city. The best thing to do is to get lost in the alleys of the Juderia, aimlessly.
The historical center
Here you will find several very beautiful squares, starting from Potro Square, an asymmetrical square where horse and mule merchants gathered, once considered a disreputable place. The Posada del Potro overlooks the square, even mentioned by Cervantes in his Don Quixote (and where he probably stayed), now restored to house a center on the study of flamenco art. Proceeding from the square to the north, you arrive on Plaza de la Corredera, the center of the old silversmiths' quarter, where bullfights and inquisition fires took place. This rectangular arcaded square is now full of bars and restaurants and is one of the liveliest in the city, especially in summer. Going further we arrive in a square where it is possible to see the remains of a Roman temple of the first century. Here begins Calle Claudio Marcelo which ends, on the other side, in Tendillas Square, the most important square in modern Cordoba. Here is the large building that houses the municipality and some fountains with jets of over 2 meters high.
Among the most beautiful buildings in the city, on the other hand, we must certainly mention Palace of the Marquis of Viana, which has 12 internal courtyards full of flowers (you can take a guided tour of the palace and gardens, or limit yourself to seeing only the latter) and the Circle of Friendship, a casino founded in 1842 inside a convent, with a beautiful Renaissance cloister.