If you are wondering where to visit in Spain then Cordoba in Andalusia is well placed for a short visit. It is one hour away from the popular city of Seville and a similar distance from Malaga. It is also easily accessible by train from Madrid or Valencia. Decide when to visit Spain, bearing in mind that between April and August the temperatures in Cordoba will be between 21 degrees and 33 degrees. Cordoba has a high sunshine rate.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The colourful, narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter [La Juderia] surround the great Mosque [Mezquita]. This Mosque was turned into a cathedral and dominates the city with its vastness in both size and opulent interior.
To the south lies the River Guadalquvir with its Roman Bridge. All these buildings and monuments are proof of a richness of differing cultures that have influenced the area over the centuries and it is easy to justify it as a UNESCO site.
In the background are the Sierra Morena Mountains and in between beautiful landscapes, a nature reserve and three national parks. So when you have visited all the magnificent monuments, buildings and museums, and experienced much more of Cordoba, then you can escape to a leisurely country stay.
What to See and Do
The first attraction you should visit is the Mezquita where you will see one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture. As you enter into the vast prayer hall you will be over-whelmed by the two-tiered horse-shoe arches that are decorated in brick and stone alternately. However, there seems to be no focal point, complicated even more by the Christian building that was put in the centre of the Mosque in the early 16th Century.
Entry costs 7 Euros per person but also take advantage of the commentary aid at an extra cost of 3.5 Euros per person. This will provide you with a commentary in your language of choice and guide you around the various artefacts and areas and will give a real insight into the vast history. However, you have to leave some form of identification in exchange for these audio units until they are returned.
There are also tours at night when the artefacts and the spectacular arches in all their splendour are on view.
The Jewish Quarter [La Juderia]
Here you will find one of the few synagogues that has been preserved but without alterations.
This is a fascinating area but can become crowded, as the streets are very narrow. Be prepared for cars to drive up behind you and expect to pass you whilst you stand in a doorway, restaurant or shop. The floral displays, the waiters outside trying to persuade you to enter their bodegas or the tourist shops with all kinds of knick knacks and, of course, leather goods make this an exciting place to be.
There are all kinds of restaurants and bars to choose from and to suit all budgets. Tapas are synonymous with Spain and they are such a versatile way to eat at a small cost. There are either hot or cold tapas available and the range is vast. Some use a piece of bread as a basis to add tortilla, for example, whilst others are served in a ceramic bowl with a piece of bread to soak up the juices. These may be a cold fish dish perhaps or a hot tapa with meat balls in a sauce. The list is endless and differs according to the region. Salmorejo Cordobes is a cold, creamy paste of tomato and is popular with locals and tourists alike. If you accompany a couple of tapas with a beer, glass of wine or a sherry, which is a local trend, then you will be perfectly satisfied until your evening meal.
In the evening you can wander around the centre and can choose one of the many restaurants that will suit your stomach and you wallet!
There is a flamenco show most nights. One takes place in the Arab Baths of Santa Maria. It is billed as an intimate atmosphere. The stage is small, the seating area is limited but the performance and atmosphere will not disappoint. The entrance fee of 20 Euros includes one drink. Booking would be advisable.
Other flamenco performances are less expensive but all begin late, some at 9pm and some as late as 10.30pm.
Museums, Monuments and Buildings
There are many museums and monuments around Cordoba. Visit a Tourist Information Centre near the Mezquita and pick up a leaflet and then you can choose where you’d like to visit according to your length of stay in Cordoba.
The Alcazar de los Reyes [the Palace of the Christian Kings] was a royal residence in the 14th Century and now admits visitors to view the remnants of original mosaics and to stroll in the gardens or sit and relax by the water to admire the lines of orange trees.
There are museums for archaeological remains, fine arts, crafts, religious paintings, and columns of an ancient Roman temple.
Carnivals and Festivals
There will be at least one of these every month but the main one at Easter is the Semana Santa. This is a solemn ceremony where crowds parade through the streets to declare their faith. Incense and candles will accompany them. You may also hear someone burst into a religious song as they walk through the streets.
May is a special time for lovers of flowers. The Cordoba Festival of Patios, Windows and Balconies attracts sightseers to view the wealth of colour and fragrances that locals provide for their own properties. It is a time when these local residents open up their private gardens for visitors to admire.
Tours and the Open Top Red Bus
The bus provides a hop-on, hop-off facility where you can tour the city to see the sights. The cost is 17 Euros and lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It passes the Roman Bridge to give a real close-up view with a good photo opportunity. Unfortunately, the bus cannot drive close to the Mezquita, although it passes the building, nor can it take you into the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter.
However, the same company will provide guided walking tours that will be able to take you around the areas not seen by bus.
View my article Open_Top_Bus to learn more about this tourist facility that is available in major cities.
Several horse drawn carriages offer an alternative tour. A group of these carriages can be found at the Mezquita and a second group by the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos.
Where to Stay
A range of hotels, hostels, campsites, rural accommodation and apartments in Cordoba are amply available on the web. However, if you wish to be very close to the Mosque and the Jewish Quarter with lots to do, there is the Conquistador Hotel. A room for 2 people for 2 nights is 118 Euros.
These are just samples of what is on offer. A short stay in Cordoba provides a rich experience. Whether it is spectacular buildings, colourful carnivals or gastronomic delights then choose Cordoba. You will not be disappointed. And when you are back home you can remind yourself of the wonderful time by making your own tapas.