Córdoba (city, Spain)
Córdoba is a mid-sized city of 350,000 inhabitants and the capital of the province of Córdoba, situated in the center of Andalucia in Spain. A great cultural reference point in Europe, this ancient city has been declared a World Heritage Site and contains a mixture of the diverse cultures that have settled it throughout history.
Córdoba also has much to offer in terms of art, culture and leisure, thanks to a myriad of cultural events that are organized here throughout the year: Flamenco festivals, concerts, ballet and other activities. These events are complemented by a number of museums and a good nightlife scene.
phone: +34 902 201 774address: Plaza de las Tendillas, 5
phone: +34 902 201 774address: Campo Santo de los Mártires
RENFE, Spain's high-speed rail network, offers a very fast and comfortable train service to Córdoba. From Madrid Atocha trains run hourly, most continuing to Sevilla (45 min), some to Malaga (50 min), Cadiz or Algeciras (for Morocco). Two of the Madrid services originate in Barcelona, taking about five hours via Zaragoza. As the trains are so fast and journey times are short, they only run day-time.
phone: +34 902 432 343address: Glorieta de las Tres CulturasThe station is modern, on Avenida de America. There are luggage lockers, wi-fi, cafés, and a tourist information centre. To get to the old town including Mezquita, turn left in the station mall as you exit the platform, then right down the verdant divided boulevard of Avenida de la Republica Argentina. 15 min brings you to a gate through the old city walls, keep straight on then bear right towards the biggest tower in view.
phone: +34 957 40 40 40address: Avenida de la LibertadRegular buses from almost every town in Andalucia as well as from Madrid departing from the "Estación Sur" (around 6 buses per day). ALSA and Socibus both have timetable and ticket information online.
By planeCórdoba has no airport. The closest major airports are in Seville, Málaga and Madrid; from there a train or a bus to Córdoba takes but a few hours.
By carDistances to Cordoba: Madrid 407 km, Badajoz 278 km, Granada 166 km, Malaga 175 km
Just about everything of interest in Córdoba is within easy walking distance (the one notable exception being the Medina Azahara), and the typical tourist can do with the standard tourist map which can be obtained from the tourist offices (one on the east side of the Mezquita, another between the Alcázar and the city walls, and yet another in the train station, to name a few).
The area with by far the most to see is the Old City surrounding the Mezquita. The Old City is a tangle of medieval-style streets roughly bounded by the Guadalquivir River on the south, the area surrounding Plaza de las Tendillas on the north and the tree-lined Paseo de la Victoria on the west. This area is crammed with places to stay, eat and buy souvenirs, though many visitors may find certain areas (particularly immediately surrounding the Mezquita) too touristy, with more interesting things found wandering into the tiny streets of the Jewish Quarter to the west and north of the Mezquita. Behind the Mezquita the Roman Bridge crosses the Guadalquivir River to a museum in the old gate on the opposite side.
The area immediately to the north of the Old City, roughly from the area around Plaza de las Tendillas to Avenida de America is a more modern section of town and is where the train and bus station is located as well as a major shopping area. Along Paseo de la Victoria on the west side and Avenida de America on the north are large parks that make for a pleasant stroll.
The biggest attraction in Córdoba and a truly must-see building, the Mezquita is a massive former mosque-turned-cathedral famed for its "forest" of columns topped with Islamic-style red and white striped arches among its other many architectural highlights and serves as a reminder of the glory and importance Córdoba held in medieval times. The building is full of history and beauty - you'll want to give yourself at least a couple of hours to do it justice.
Built in 786 as a mosque, the structure was expanded several times under Córdoba's Muslim rule while still remaining largely true to the original design. Following the Christian Reconquista of Córdoba in 1236, work immediately went underway to convert the building to a church, and four centuries later a cathedral at the center of the building was constructed, though not without controversy as it significantly altered the space. Today, despite the presence of the cathedral, most of the original mosque structure remains remarkably well-preserved.
Approaching the Mezquita, the first thing you will notice is the massive bell tower on the building's north side which looms over the surrounding buildings. Built in the 1600s the tower replaced a minaret previously on the site. Along the outside of the building the wall takes on the appearance of a fortress, with an elaborate set of Moorish-style archway and windows spaced every so often.
Stepping through one of the doors you'll enter the Patio de los Naranjos, or Court of the Orange Trees, which true to its name contains a grove of orange trees, planted in symmetrical rows that replicate the forest of columns within the building. A large fountain drips pleasantly in the middle, and the views of the bell tower framed by trees are excellent. The Patio is free to enter and is open during the day as a public park - the ticket booths are located on the bell tower side of the courtyard.
Entering the interior you'll immediately be standing before the forest of columns which recede into the distance, topped with their dazzling horseshoe arches. The light in the space will play interesting tricks with the arches and varies pretty dramatically as you walk through the building, going from rather dark when you enter to very bright at the cathedral in the middle and back and forth as you continue.
Opposite the room from the entrance is the Mihrab, a spectacular archway decorated with Arabic writing which was the focus of the mosque, as it faced in the direction of Mecca and was what every Muslim faced as they knelt on the floor to pray . Once, tens of thousands of people could fit into this space to pray, the multitude knelt on their rugs before the Mihrab. In the corner of the building nearby are glass cases with artifacts excavated from beneath the Mezquita, and the walls along the side of the building are lined with chapels, each one with an intricate piece of artwork.
At the center of the building, the Cathedral towers over the rest of the building, and the transition from the impressive-but-intimate mosque structure to the overwhelming awe of the cathedral is abrupt and rather jarring, but don't let that stop you from taking in the beauty of the cathedral, with its rich decoration and well-illuminated interior, standing to suggest triumph over the Muslims who previously used this building. The presence of the cathedral also offers the unique opportunity to so easily compare the differences between Muslim and Christian architecture.
The Old City
Roman BridgeA Roman-style bridge over the shallow Guadalquivir River that was once the main crossing over the river, securing Córdoba's importance to the region. The entrance to the bridge is marked by a triumphal arch and an adjacent single-column monument and it crosses to an old fortified gate (now a museum, described below) on the other side.
phone: +34 957 293 929address: C/ Puente RomanoA history museum located in the Torre de la Calahorra, which once served as the old fortified gate to the city. Upon entering the museum the greeters (who speak good English) have you don a headset which will explain the exhibits and artifacts on Muslim Andalusia you will view as you walk from room to room. The narrators take a very philosophical take on the whole thing and their descriptions of Islam may come off as rather flowery, but the artifacts are worth a look and the balcony on the top of the tower offers an excellent view of the river and the city.
address: C/ Caballerizas RealesBuilt in the 8th century as a caliphate residence on the site of a Visigoth fortress, the Alcazar was used as the residence and fortress of Ferdinand and Isabella (the "Christian Monarchs" for whom the building is now named) as well as a headquarters for the Spanish Inquisition. The fortress, with its artifacts (including a series of Roman mosaics and a Roman sarcophagus) and two towers is now open for touring, but the main attraction here is the lush and beautiful gardens on the site.
Calle de las FloresA beautiful narrow street, full of flowers with a wonderful tiny square at the end and excellent views of the Mezquita's Tower framed by the buildings lining the street.
Synagogueaddress: C/ JudíosA small but beautifully preserved synagogue - one of only three remaining in Spain - the structure was built in 1315 and consists of a single small, square room with high ceilings and gorgeous Mudejar decorative plaster on the walls.
- Casa de Sefarad.
- City Wall.
- Plaza del Potro - A small old square where Don Quijote de la Macha stayed in one of his adventures. You can find there a nice fountain with a small horse and a 'Triunfo de San Rafael'. Julio Romero de Torres local painter Museum and Fine Arts Museum are also located in this place.
- Plaza de la Corredera - The only 'Plaza Mayor cerrada' (closed main square) in Andalucía.
phone: +34 957 78 76 44address: Calle AverroesA marvelous Gothic-Mudéjar chapel from the 15th century, with beautiful tiles and vaulting. The chapel is maintained by Córdoba University.
Albolafia Water MillA reconstructed Moorish water wheel, and the only one remaining in Spain.
Templo Romanoaddress: Along Calle Claudio Marcelo5-min walk from Cordoba's main square is the Templo Romano, the ruins of Roman temple dating back to the 1st century A.D during the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE). The ruins are badly degraded and the columns have been reconstructed, but at night the place is nicely lit up. A family of feral cats at the site attracts as much attention as the ruins themselves. The Templo Romano, Puente Romano and fragments at the Archaeological Museum are all that remain of Cordoba's Roman past. Free.
phone: +34 957 35 55 17address: Plaza Jerónimo Páez, 7Small museum tucked away in a plaza in the old city, it showcases artefacts from Cordoba's prehistory, through its Roman and Islamic eras to Medieval times. Most impressive of all, the museum is built over the ruins of Cordoba's old Roman amphitheatre, and allows visitors to walk through the actual ruins.
Calleja del Pañueloaddress: Calleja del PañueloTiny alleyway near the Mosque-Cathedral. At its narrowest point, it is supposedly only 72 cm wide. Built in the Moorish style, it leads to a small square (smallest in the world) with a fountain.
Outside the Old City
Plaza de Capuchinosaddress: Cuesta del Bailio (Close to Alfaros street)The most impressive square, the best time to go there is the sunset or night (see picture). A Christ in the Cross statue adorned with lot of old lanterns, candles and flowers in a very quiet atmosphere. While it is outside the old city - it's really not far.
Plaza de las Tendillas
Viana PalaceFormer residence of the Marquise of Viana, this is an impressive museum featuring furniture, tapestries, porcelain, tiles, paintings, leatherwork, muskets, a 7000-volume library and extensive gardens spread out over 14 patios.
Medina Azaharaaddress: Carretera de Palma del RioWorld heritage listed ruins of the capital of the Western Caliphate, built beginning in 940. Huge archeological interest, a beautiful and very special walk.
- Feria de Córdoba - Last week in May, a huge fair of drinking, dancing, eating, and not working. Flamenco and salsa music. A great time! (25 May - 01 June 2019)
- Cruces de Mayo - 1st week of May. Very fun, a lot of public squares in the city center, the old city, with big crosses flower-made, with music and drinks full of people having fun! (1-5 May 2019)
- Cata del Vino Montilla-Moriles - Cordovan wine-tasting fair. Very good wine selection, tapas and music in a huge tent in the city center. (25-28 April 2019)
- Festival de Patios - About 2 weeks during May. People living in the ancient districts of Córdoba are proud to open their courtyards to visitors and participate in a contest in which colourful plants and different elements invite to contemplate the beauty of traditional style houses. (6-19 May 2019)
- Semana Santa (the week before Easter) - Processions throughout town involving scenes from the life of Christ, bands, and penitents. Very nice exhibition of the city's culture. Approximately six processions each night from 18:00 to midnight.
Festival Internacional de la GuitarraThe city become the world Guitar Capital during two weeks full of concerts featuring the top world guitar players and bands ranging from Jazz/Blues, Classical, and of course, Flamenco. Excellent music and dance seminars, music courses, and conferences about guitar.
- Carnaval A typical Andalusian carnival (not as huge as Cadiz's festival, but a great time nevertheless). The city center is full of people in costumes during the weekend, funny songs are sang throughout city squares.
During the year
Hammam - Arabic baths5 minutes walking distance west of the mosque there is a modern Arabic bath that recreates the ones used during the Moorish era. During the golden times of the western caliphate Cordoba was said to have more than 400 hundreds baths. The site offers a session of two hours (including a massage).
- Take a Segway Tour in Córdoba, passing by places which are normally missed by the visitor. English spoken tours. From €15 per person.
The main shopping area is around the Plaza de las Tendillas: Concepción street, Cruz Conde street, Gran Capitán boulevard, Ronda de los Tejares avenue...
- Sukia - cocktail shop, Cuesta Luján 4. (between Plaza de las Tendillas and San Fernado), 95749051, Really cool shop. Its sells Kitch, be it in clothes, music, decorations form, if it's kitch from the 1950s, 60s or 70s, its here.
- Blas s - Artisanal Ceramics, Calle Martinez Rücker. (The street leading to the Mezquita with a Moroccan restaurant.) This store is one of Córdoba's hidden gems. The owners sell beautiful ceramics of various different styles from their patio, so not only do you get to take a look at lovely handmade ceramics, but you also get a feel for the traditional Córdoba patio. If you're not lucky enough to visit Córdoba during the weeks of the patio competition, this store offers you a great opportunity. The ceramics are also of a higher quality than those of most of the stores around the Mezquita, since the store is dedicated to ceramics and isn't tourist-oriented. They are displaying the works of Carlos Durán, a Toledo surrealist with a flare for color.
One of the traditional craftwork in Córdoba is jewellery. Good value jewels, specially gold, can be found around the city. However, it is advisable to buy far from touristic sites as they are the most expensive places to buy that. One place to check it is around Jesus Rescatado avenue.
phone: +34 957 420 853address: Calle Puerta de Almodóvar, 5In the heart of the Juderia, this place offers decent tapas for the price. A bit more expensive version of it is next to the mosque, called Casa Pepe de la Juderia, which serves the same food at a slight markup for location. Excellent bravas. Worth checking out.
Taberna Góngoraphone: +34 957 49 03 62address: Calle del Conde de Torres Cabrera, 4Popular with locals and well known for their cured meats (carne de monte).
address: Avenida. del Aeropuerto, 4One of the few places in Cordoba that serves free tapas. It is located along a 'tapas' boulevard popular with the locals for food. Crowded on football game days. Tapas range from 1.70 - 3€.
Deloreanaddress: Calle Alfonso XIII, 2Near the Templo Romano, this place serves free tapas with every drink, with every additional tapa at €1. Their house specialties include Piruleta de Barbacoa (Barbecued meat on a lollipop) and Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style cooked octopus).
phone: +34 957 475 375address: Calle del Cardenal Herrero, 28Locals claim it has the best rabo de toro in town.
phone: +34 957 497 500address: Calle Lineros, 32Classic Córdoba place to eat. Historic building and famous for people who have visited. Food is fantastic, very recommended!
phone: +34 957 94 18 88address: Calle Tomás Conde, 3This restaurant offers customers a chance to sample traditional Sephardic Jewish cuisine. Although the meat is not kosher certified, none of the dishes mix meat and dairy. The restaurant is run by a Sephardic family. The food is, truly, divine.
phone: +34 957 27 92 69address: Carretera De Trassierra, km 3A refurbished castle in the foothills of the Córdoba Sierra, 10 minutes from city center by car. Very good Cordoban food with splendid city sights.
phone: +34 957 290 819address: Calle del Romero, 16With amazing meat dishes.
phone: +34 957 48 4848address: Calle Reyes Católicos, 17Fantastic pizza and pasta. Try the pasta carbonara, very nice.
phone: +34 957 48 45 72address: Calleja del Arco, 2Delicious home made food and traditional cooking with a modern and personal style. Enjoyable meals in an authentic 16th-century charming courtyard accompanied by flamenco ambient music. It is also possible to try tapas and drinks for a very reasonable price. Relaxed atmosphere.
Taberna La Lechugaaddress: Calle Tomás Conde, 12Córdoba traditional style food. Try their brand name tasty specialty, seasoned "lettuce sprouts", served with garlic. They serve a wide range of traditional dishes. Don't forget their croquetas, but to be sure about their daily recommendations just try and ask their friendly staff.
phone: +34 957 47 01 66address: Plaza de San Miguel, 1Established in 1880, this very popular place should not be missed. Serves great Montilla, as well as rabo de toro and pisto.
- Plaza de la Corredera. A lot of bars in this beautiful place, nice environment and nice people.
- Vial Norte (Paseo de Córdoba). A lot of modern bars in the newest part of the city. Cute people and fancy pubs.
- El Brillante, el Tablero Avenida del Brillante. For summertime, fancy bars, fancy people in those rich neighborhoods. From June to September.
- Polígono industrial de Chinales (Chinales, industrial park). Very close to the city center (5-10 min by car, €4 by taxi). Clubs/Discos: Maná, Silos, Kenia, Go...
- Ciudad Jardín neighborhood Alderetes street, Julio Pellicer street. A lot of small but very fun places to dance, drink... to have fun! From October to May.
- Hostal Lineros 38 A very nice place with beautiful Andalusí (Islamic from southern Spain) architecture.
phone: +34 957 492 966address: Calle Lucano, 12Good location. Clean privates and dorms. Air-conditioning. Strangely has three separate names.
phone: +34 957 491 544address: C/ Conde y Luque, 7Kitchen, wi-fi.
phone: +34 626 389 706address: C/ Martínez Rucker, 14Built in a traditional Andalusian house, with an open courtyard as the centre of the hostel. It has private rooms for parties as large as six to six-bed dorm rooms. Pleasant environment and friendly owner who will go all out of the way to give advice on what to see in Córdoba.
Hotel Maciá AlfarosGreat hotel with old town central location. Walking distance to central plaza, shopping, archeology sites, drinks.
phone: +34 957 767 063address: Av. de San José de Calasanz, 2 14012 Córdoba Córdoba
- Hotel AC Córdoba Excellent hotel in a modern environment set a block from the bus and train stations, very close to the city center.
- Hotel Córdoba Center The newest hotel in the city, 5 minutes walking distance from Train/Bus station and city center.
- Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailío, the only 5-star hotel in town. Centrally located. Incredible old city palace from the 16th century. Respecting both Roman and Moorish architectural influences. 53 rooms, restaurant and spa. The new essence of Hospes Palacio del Bailío tells an old story, its architecture speaks of history in the old quarter of the city, next to the Cristo de ls Faroles square and 10 minutes from the Mosque.
phone: +34 957 47 55 85address: Plaza Santa Catalina, 1Next to the Mezquita, this is good value with friendly service. Free wi-fi, luggage storage available.
phone: +34 95 7420335address: Plaza de Maimónides, 3In the heart of the old town, 5 minutes walking from the Mezquita. Settled in the old city walls, inside a beautiful palace. There is another NH hotel right next door - the NH Califa.
phone: +34 957 202 095address: Calle Tomás Conde, 10Renovated historic 4-star hotel near the Mezquita Cathedral.
phone: +34 957 49 65 61address: Calle Cardenal Herrero, 12In the Jewish Quarter.
- Priego de Córdoba (Arabic: Madinat Baguh) - 103km southeast of Cordoba, Priego de Cordoba is filled with numerous Arabic, Spanish Baroque and Neoclassical monuments. Some remarkable monuments are the Fuente del Rey (The King's Fountain, built in Spanish Baroque style) with its 139 water spouts, the castle and the town's villa (all of Arabic origin) and the Castilian Playground (a 16th-century garden). The town is also known for its cuisine — in particular, its revuelto de collejas (campion scramble) and medallones de rabo de toro (oxtail medallions).
- Zuheros (Arabic: Sujaira) - 76 km southeast of Cordoba, Zuheros is a typical white Andalusian village with an impressive Moorish castle built on a rock. 4 km from the town lies the Cueva de los Murciélagos (Cave of the Bats), a huge cave worth the visit for geological and archaeological fans. It contains Neolithic art, and has impressive stalactites and stalagmites. The village itself is famous for its goat cheese.
- Montilla - 44 km south of Cordoba, Montilla is world famous for its Montilla-Moriles wines and sherry. It is also known for its bakeries and its Holy Week procession.
- Montoro (Arabic: Hisn Muntur) - 45 km northeast of Cordoba, Montoro is a picturesque town built on a bend on the Rio Guadalquivir. It is known for its historic quarter and its bridges. It is also the gateway to the Cardeña-Montoro Nature Reserve.
- Baena (Arabic: Bayyana) - 62 km southeast of Cordoba, Baena is where Andalucia's best olive oil is produced.
- Bujalance (Arabic: Bury Al-Hans) - 42 km east of Cordoba (an hour by bus), Bujalance is home to the second tallest structure in the province after Seville's Giralda- the slightly-leaning clocktower of the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion church - and a Moorish fortress.
- Parque Nacional de la Sierra de Hornachuelos in Hornachuelos and Parque Natural de las Sierras Subbéticas in Cardeña are interesting nature reserves.