Travel Guide to Córdoba

Great Capital of the Caliphate

The tangle of Moorish streets, small squares and whitewashed courtyards decorated with flowers around the Mosque-Cathedral are a reflection of the sensitivity of this Andalusian population.

Plan your trip to Córdoba

The most impressive monument to see in Cordoba is the wonderful Mosque-Cathedral, as well as the remains of Medina Azahara, situated in the vicinity. In addition, there is an extensive heritage that will entertain the visitor for a full weekend.

We recommend you to enjoy the local gastronomy to the maximum, for example, the salmorejo. Typical dish of the area.

Origin of the city

The first settlements captured in Córdoba date back to the IX and VIII centuries B.C. Then came the Phoenicians and the Greeks.

In mid of the 2nd century B.C., the roman general Claudio Marcelo funded Corduba to be the capital of Hispania Ulterior. Its  great splendor and artistic development reflected on two stages, colonian and provincial. Shortly after, great buildings began to be abundant. Included is the recently discovered Maximo Amphitheater and the grand temples situated in Claudio Marcelo street. This was the home of the great phylosopher and thinker Séneca.

Muslim rule

During the VIII century, Córdoba was taken by the visigoths led by Mugit, deputy of Tariq. For that time he maintained his administrative role, making him the object to frequent disputes between different features. However, in 756, Abderramán I proclamed the capital of emirato as Al-Andalus. At the same time, ground-break of the Mosque-Cathedral began. Later, in the year 929, Abderraman III proclamed the separation of the caliphate Capital from Damasco. Its medina had 1000 mosques, 800 bath houses, an advanced system of public lighting, a famous university, and a library with more than 400,000 volumes.

It is not surprising that such ambiance, inspired the start of great and creative talent. Examples of this are the phylosophist and doctor Averroes and his disciple, the jew Maimónides (doctor and theologian). The city was decorated with gardens, waterfalls, and artificial lakes. Through an aquaduct they were allowed to access fresh-water in abundace to the fountains and public restrooms (700) Throughout the city there were sumptuos palaces such as the al-Zahra, Medina Azahara. Despite this, in the year 103 the Caliphate was dissembled, which was still declared a nation until its complete destruction. This happened in 1236 when Fernando III del Santo took the city.

Tough years

The 14th century was quite turbulent. Between 1366 and 1369 took place the civil war that confronted the supporters of Peter I the Cruel and his bastard brother Henry of Trastamara.

Moreover, the Black Death came to Córdoba in 1349, a fact that was repeated fifteen years later. The immense mortality rate, together with the lack of food and money, subjected the city to a great crisis.

With the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs, a small recovery began. However, the decree of expulsion of the Jews was a major blow.

foto antigua cordoba

Final recovery

As in the rest of Andalusia, the 16th century was one of great prosperity that permitted numerous constructions.

In the middle of the century, the poet and playwright Luís de Góngora was born in Cordoba. The writer was immortalized by the Sevillian painter Diego Velázquez.

During the 18th century remarkable baroque buildings were built. Finally, from the middle of the 20th century, Cordoba began to recover, both economically and culturally.

Nowadays it is one of the best preserved cities in Spain. It is therefore not unusual to see a great deal of heritage in Cordoba.

Best places to go in Córdoba

There is no doubt that Cordoba has one of the most beautiful historical centres in the world. The area includes the Mosque-Cathedral quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Alcazar and the San Basilio quarter. We will also go over the neighbourhoods of San Francisco and San Pedro.

The Mosque-Cathedral has its own specialized website. Once enjoyed, you might go to the Plaza del Triunfo, next to the Guadalquivir. The mannerist Puerta del Puente (1575) is a triumphal arch with a single linteled span, on whose sides are two pairs of Tuscan columns.

Patrimonio de la Humanidad en Córdoba

Interior of the mosque.

Roman Bridge

The Roman Bridge joins both banks and ends at the Calahorra Tower, which houses the Museum of the Three Cultures.

Roman bridge.

In Velázquez Bosco street you will find the Arab Baths of Santa María, one of the buildings from the Caliphate period. Originally they consisted of two rooms, a cold one with a rectangular floor plan surrounded by columns taken of previous buildings and a hot room, covered with a perforated barrel vault that rested on horseshoe arches. During the 14th, 18th and 19th centuries the rooms were used for different purposes such as a prison to ‘corral de comedias’ (comedy theater).

Callejón de las flores

The ‘Callejón de las Flores’ is one of the most popular places in the city. It receives its name from the numerous plants that decorate its whitewashed walls. On the other hand, the Dukes of Medina Sidonia’ House (1636) has a beautiful main facade and a staircase decorated with stuccoes. Its back facade, in fron of the square of Jerónimo Páez, is called the ‘Casas del Judío’ (House of the Jew). In this square is also located the Archaeological Museum.

If you continue along Julio Romero de Torres Street you will reach the Arco del Portillo. It is one of the three conserved gates of the medieval wall. From here, one option is to return to the mosque and get lost in the narrow streets of Cordoba. Some of these narrow streets are linked to old legends. A good example is Calle de las Cabezas, linked to the tragic history of the Seven Infants of Lara.

Neighborhoods of San Francisco and San Pedro

The first stop is the Church of San Francisco, which preserves an important number of Baroque works. The collection includes the San Pedro de Alcántara by Pedro de Mena, a Virgin of the Dolorosa from the workshop of José de Mora and numerous canvases by Juan de Valdés Leal, Antonio del Castillo and Antonio Palomino.

Romero Barros Street leads to the Plaza del Potro, an old cattle market. Its use has changed a lot, being now one of the most popular places of Cordoba. There is the inn of the same name, in which Cervantes would set his character Don Quixote. There is also the Hospital of La Caridad de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, which houses the Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of Julio Romero de Torres. The first one can be distinguished by its drawings from the 17th and 18th centuries and second one, by a selection of the work of Julio Romero de Torres, a painter from Cordoba.

Plaza de la corredera

The nearby Plaza de la Corredera is documented since the 13th century. It later adopted a baroque configuration, closed off by walls and galleries of brick porticoes, with buildings at three heights. Its oldest buildings are the Casas de los Señores de Angulo (Angulo’s House, late 16th century)  and the Cárcel y Casa del Corregidor (Prison and Chief Magistrate’s House, 16th century) where a market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In addition, many craft shops are concentrated in its surroundings, it’s a great attraction to visit in Cordoba. They mainly work with wicker, leather, wood and clay.

Jewish quarter

The Jewish quarter extends from the mosque to the walls and the Almodóvar Gate. It has a network of narrow streets whose whitewashed facades are decorated with tiles and grilles. The main nucleus of this place consists of the Judíos street and the squares of Tiberias, Judá Leví and Maimónides. There were sold the bulls of the Crusade long ago.

Other points of interest are Plazuela de las Flores, Casa de Sefarad, Casa Andalusí, Caliphal Baths and the Synagogue. This temple was erected around 1315-1316 by Isaac Mejeb. Preceded by a small courtyard, it has a square prayer room, the niche for the Torah, adorned with arabesques. On the other hand, it is completely covered with plasterwork with Toledan influence.

Jewish quarter.

Neighborhood of San Basilio: the Alcázar

Here you will find the traditional Cordovan patios, adorned with special care during its May festival. The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos was erected between 1328 and 1359, under the impetus of Alfonso XI. The Catholic Monarchs ruled for eight years from there. During that time they built the Tower of the Inquisition and adapted some rooms as the seat of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Later it became a civil and military prison. It is a square-shaped complex, built with block of stones and protected at its angles by four towers. The oldest tower is the Torre de los Leones (Tower of the Lions).

The gardens of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos are especially interesting. Known as the Paseo de los Reyes, every king linked to the Alcázar is represented in statues. Therefore, it is perhaps the most sumptuous place in Cordoba. Inside the complex are the Royal Baths, built by Alfonso XI and inspired by traditional Islamic models. For its part, the Salón de los Mosaicos (Hall of Mosaics) exhibits an interesting collection of Roman mosaics from the second century. Then are the Patio Mudéjar and the Plaza de Armas.

Alcazar of the Kings.

In the Caballerizas Reales (Royal Stables) (1570), currently municipal facilities, an interesting equestrian show can be enjoyed every day. Descending from the church to the main streets are old mansions with overhanging viewpoints on porches and stone columns. Sculpted capitals can be seen in more than one. Among the mansions there is a palace restored as a House of Culture.

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor is porticoed with 16th and 17th century mansions. In the General Mola street is the 17th century Casa de los Leones (House of the Lions), that can be identified by its carved feline coats of arms. Nearby is Cantarranas street is the Casa Cantarranas Museum of Architecture and Rural Ethnography. To the southeast of the Plaza Mayor, in the Plaza de Ángel Gómez Inguanzo, is the Hermitage of the Cross made of reddish stone with a baroque bell gable built in 1783. Inside a niche is the image of Christ carrying the cross on a relief of the Tree of Life.

In front of the hermitage is the interesting building Casa-Palacio of Gutiérrez de Mier (15th century). It holds the ethnographic museum of the Piedad Isla & Juan Torres Foundation. Thanks to it, the ways of life of the region can be understood. A little further is the Palace of Viana (14th century) with  mannerist facade, twelve courtyards and a garden with a fountain. It is a National Monument and has been declared an Artistic Garden. In its rooms are exposed artistic collections of different epochs.

Useful information

GPS coordinates

37° 53′ 0″ N, 4° 46′ 0″ W.

Distances

Jaén 104 km, Sevilla 129 km, Málaga 162 km, Madrid 400 km.

Parking

La Mezquita parking.

 

Elevation

120 m.

Population

328 841 (2012).

The main festivities in Córdoba are the following ones: Carnival, Holy Week, Crosses of May Festival (May), Corpus Christi, Virgin of Fuentesanta (8 September) and San Rafael (24 October).

 

Events to look out for in Córdoba: ‘flamencos’ festivals, ‘patios cordobeses’ (May, Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity), Festivity of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (last week of May), Pilgrimage of Santo Domingo, Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Linares, Courtyard Theater Festival.

 

San Rafael confectioner. Jeweller’s (silver), leather (cordobanes and guadamecíes) and ceramics. A good place for shopping is the Municipal Crafts Market or the surroundings of the streets José Cruz Conde, Gondomar, Concepción, Jesús María, Ronda de Tejares and Plaza de las Tenadillas.

 


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