For those looking to plan a city break holiday to Spain, Cordoba comes highly recommended. Situated in an idyllic riverfront location in the popular Andalusian region of Spain, Cordoba is decidedly picturesque and unassuming. Once the Spanish capital of a mighty Islamic caliphate, Cordoba today seamlessly blends its past lives to create a city in harmony with its past and the present. Below is a list of some things to do in Cordoba, but this will only help you scratch the surface of this beguiling and charming city.
1. Visit the Mezquita
Located in the historic and spiritual heart of Cordoba, the Mezquita stands as a reminder of the city’s Moorish past and its zenith as one of the principal centres in the medieval world. Originally erected in the 8th Century to serve as a mosque for its Islamic inhabitants, it was reclaimed along with the rest of the city during a Christian conquest and repurposed as a Renaissance-style Cathedral, creating the unusual coupling of styles you now see.
Today, its doors are open to visitors wishing to wander between the great buttresses and columns supporting the lustrously designed arches and bell tower above. The idyllic courtyard enjoys dappled shade provided by cypress and olive trees, while the gentle trickling water from the fountains provide a touch of serenity. Visitors can either choose to explore separately or as part of a tour group from 10am. Admission is free before 10am but afterwards prices are the minimal price of 8 Euros per person.
2. Walk across the Roman Bridge of Cordoba
Not only does the Puente Romano bridge connect one side of Cordoba with the other, it also keeps the city in touching distance of its past. Built in accordance with the wishes of the Roman Emperor Augustus, the bridge makes for an impressive sight of 16 consecutive arches spanning across the 820 feet of the Guadalquivir River. Nowadays the bridge is entirely pedestrianised and is used by visitors who come to follow in the footsteps of the Romans and Moors who crossed the bridge to the old quarter or to the Mezquita.
3. Explore the Alcazar Gardens
Located in the shadow of an Episcopal Palace and former abode of an ancient line of Christian Kings, the Alcazar Gardens are a popular attraction that never fails to delight those who take a stroll around it. Despite its obvious Christian connection, the roots of this garden delve back to the days of the Moors who are responsible for much of its typically Islamic and geometrically designed garden arrangements including ponds, fountains and selection of aromatic plants.
After taking a leisurely walk around the grounds, visitors can climb the steps of the Torre de los Leones (or, Lions Tower) pitched at the end of the gardens which boasts spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside.
4. Discover the Juderia
Cordoba is a city with many different faces, each with a distinctive character but perhaps none is as characterful as the Old Jewish Quarter or the Juderia. An atmospheric part of town, Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter consists of a labyrinth of picturesque narrow cobbled lanes, jewellery shops and family-owned silversmiths. Cordoba’s Jewish population have lived and even flourished, cohabiting alongside the Romans, Moors and Christians, establishing themselves as courtiers and members of the city’s medieval intellectual elite.
Concealed among the rows of whitewashed townhouses is an unsuspecting entrance to what is a building of great historical significance, Cordoba Synagogue. The wonderfully preserved UNESCO-listed Cordoba Synagogue features a fascinating museum which is well worth a visit.
5. Take a photograph in Callejón de las Flores
The narrow cobbled lane of Callejón de las Flores is beautifully coloured with traditional whitewashed townhouses decked with terracotta plant pots brimming with brightly coloured flowers – so keep your camera to hand!
Nick Munday is Managing Director at Classic Collection Holidays.