Any cultural visit to southern Spain would not be complete without a stop in Cordoba. Many years ago a Spanish lady in Madrid informed me that one day in Cordoba was more than enough. How wrong you were Marta! I’ve been returning there year after year ever since and never tire of what is one of the most charming cities you’ll ever find. Of course the Mezquita is Cordoba’s main attraction but there are many other sights worth seeing. From my point of view Cordoba is about more than sightseeing. There is nowhere more atmospheric to wander around, just lose yourself in the tiny streets of the historic centre stopping off for a break in local tapas bars and you’ll find yourself wanting to return time and time again as I have done. Here are some of the main tourist attractions:
Mezquita / Cordoba Cathedral
Cordoba’s Mezquita (April-Sept Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Oct-March 10am-5pm) is the grandest and most beautiful mosque ever constructed by the Moors in Spain. It stands right in the centre of the city, surrounded by the old Jewish and Moorish quarters. When the Christians reconquered the city they were so overwhelmed by its beauty that they built the Cathedral within the Mosque.
Alcazár de los Reyes Cristianos
It was here that Columbus first requested funding for his renowned journey. The beautiful gardens of the Alcázar are well worth a visit. The buildings (Tues-Sat 10am-2pm & 5.30-7.30pm, Sun 9.30am-3pm; last entry 30min before closing; free Fri) were the former residence of the Inquisition and today host one of the largest complete Roman mosaics in existence.
At the heart of the tiny streets which make up Córdoba’s old Jewish quarter is one of Spain’s few remaining synagogues (c/Maimónides 18). Only three survived the Jewish expulsions of 1492 (Tues-Sat 10am-1.30pm & 3.30-5.30pm, Sun 10am-1.30pm; last entry 30min before closing; free to EU citizens).
Plaza del Potro
This quaint old square is mentioned in Don Quixote, apparently Cervantes himself stayed at the inn opposite. A pleasant break from the summer heat having a drink under the orange trees.
Arab waterwheels and Roman bridge
These lie on the river just south of the Mezquita. Over the bridge, the Torre de la Calahorra (daily 10am-2pm & 4.30-8.30pm) houses large scale models of the Mezquita with audio guide explanations of its history.
Plaza de la Corredera
The ayuntamiento (town hall) building lies on the site of a ruined Roman temple which is under constant restoration. Nearby the Corredera has undergone impressive reconstruction in the last few years. This square has been a Roman amphitheatre, the site of Inquisition burnings, a bullring, a hangout for Cordoba’s druggies and is now the city’s answer to Madrid’s Plaza Mayor where thousands of people flock to on New Years Eve to see in the New Year.