The Ultimate Travel Guide to Cordoba, Spain
Located on the north shore of the river Guadalquivir, Cordoba in Andalusia in the south of Spain is a fascinating example of the coexistence of Islamic, Judaic and Christian culture and architecture during more than 500 years.
Founded by the ancient Romans, the city was conquered by the Arab Umayyad army in 711 and remained under Arab rule until 1236 when it fell under the reign of Los Reyes Catolicos. During all that time, splendid religious and secular buildings were constructed which have survived to this day.
During the 10th century, Cordoba was the largest city in Europe, a center of culture and education as well as trade and manufacture, especially leather and textiles. Today it is a rather sleepy town which allows you to contemplate all the architectural wonders in peace. Climate and soil have always favored the growth of an abundance of flowers and in the month of May, the patios of Cordoba’s houses become a riot of scent and color as the owners compete for an award of the best flower patio.
In this Cordoba Travel Guide Blog, we listed some tips on how you can do your own DIY Day trip to Cordoba, Spain. We also included Cordoba City Itinerary, Things to do and see, how to get there and more.
Best time to visit
Cordoba has the highest temperatures in Europe during the summer and mild winters with the most rainfall from December to February. The best time to visit is spring, especially May and early fall.
How to get there
The nearest international airports are Malaga and Seville. High-speed trains (AVE) run frequently to connect the city to these airports as well as to Barcelona and Madrid. There are plenty of coaches too to and from other parts of Spain.
Forget about your car. The best way to get around is on foot. There are guided tours but it’s much more fun to explore on your own. You also have a much better view of the details and monuments and can peek into the patios of private houses if you don’t move around in a group.
Places to stay
Although many visitors come to Cordoba on a day trip from Seville, it’s well worth to plan for an overnight stay in one of the beautiful hotels for all budgets and to enjoy the magical sight of an illuminated Cordoba at night.
Hotel Hesperia Cordoba
On the shore of the river Guadalquivir and with fabulous views over the Mezquita, awaits the 4star Hotel Hesperia Cordoba in Fray Albino 1.
At only five minutes walk from the center of town you sleep in modern, elegant rooms with a/c, private bath, and an ample breakfast buffet.
Hacienda Posada de Vallina
For the medium budget and for lovers of historical buildings, there is the 3star hotel Hacienda Posada de Vallina in Corregidor Luis de la Cerda 83. Located in the old Jewish quarter of Cordoba the hotel preserved many of the old features like murals and ceiling beams whilst at the same time offering all modern amenities. It also features a pretty patio, an ample breakfast buffet and is within walking distance of the Mezquita.
Patios del Orfebre
For the lower budget, you might want to consider Patios del Orfebre in Calle Tejon y Marin. The hotel is located close to Puerta de Almodovar which is one of the main entrances to the old town and within steps of the Mezquita. The building is historical, but the rooms are modern and simple, but clean and with a private bathroom. Breakfast is not included, but easily available in any of the many cafes and bars nearby.
Best places to eat
You absolutely must try the two specialties of Cordoba, oxtail stew and salmorejo which is a creamier, thicker version of Andalusia’s cold summer soup gazpacho.
A fresh and lively place to do so, sitting among flowers pots on wrought iron blue and white painted tables and chairs is La Regadera in Cruz del Rastro 2.
Whether you want to enjoy a sit-down meal or just have a tapa and a glass of wine or sherry. Bodegas Mezquita in Ronda de Isasa 10 is the ideal place for you. In addition to oxtail stew, they make fabulous salads with fresh oranges being one of the main ingredients.
If you are adventurous and want to try something really unique to Cordoba, make your way to Taverna El Tercio Viejo in Calle Enrique Redel 19. The tiny tavern serves a big tumbler of hot, spicy broth with snails in it. Snails are a common delicacy in Cordoba. You take out the snails with a toothpick and then drink the broth. An aperitif of a very different kind.
Things to do and see
We have to start with Cordoba’s most famous landmark, the Mezquita or Great Mosque of Cordoba. Built between 784 and 786 AD in the Umayyad style, the great mosque is considered as one of the four wonders of the medieval Islamic world. Red and white columns support the dome, you will be dazzled by the mosaics and stone filigree work that adorn every wall, the ceiling, and floor.
After the Christian Kings conquered Cordoba in 1236, a church was built within the mosque, a perfect blend of two religions and civilizations and the reason why this unique building is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Make your way to the river and walk over the Roman bridge. Built in the 1st century BC with a length of 250m and 16 arches it was the only bridge to span the river for centuries. Along the river, you’ll see the Mills of the Guadalquivir, dating from Arab times and using the flow of the water to grind flour.
Now there are seven modern bridges. Near the cathedral (mosque) you’ll find the winding streets of the Jewish quarter. Take a look at Calleja de las Flores where even outside the patio festival in May, you can admire walls and balconies totally covered with hanging baskets and flowers pots.
It’s also the seat of the synagogue and the rather gruesome Museum of the Inquisition. At the other end stands an elegant private townhouse which in fact is the fascinating Museum of Art on Leather.
Dedicated to the Omeyan art of Guadameci, embossed and painted leather, the exhibits from framed leather pictures to trunks will leave you mute with admiration.
At the outskirts of the city, you’ll find the Medina Azahara, a smaller version of Granada’s famous Alhambra as well as the Muslim baths.
Many churches from Gothic to medieval to Renaissance are spread out all over Cordoba. There is no shortage of parks either for a breath of fresh air and a rest after all that walking around.
The most popular are Jardin de la Victoria and Parque de Miraflores which is designed in terraces. Complete your tour of Cordoba with a walk along the massive Roman walls and never forget to stop for a refreshment in one of the tiny cafes that you find in every of the many little squares where the narrow streets converge.
Best places to shop
No American style shopping mall in Cordoba, but a branch of Spain’s most popular department store El Corte Ingles if you need to stock up on necessities or an item of clothing.
The best things to buy in Cordoba are ceramic tiles, plates and vases and leather. Go to Artesania Al Andalus and Cueros Ghadames. For fun and color and should you be in Cordoba on a Sunday, visit El Arenal Sunday Street Market.
Currency is the EURO and the official language is Spanish. Due to the many tourist English is widely spoken. Credit cards are accepted but in small bars and tavernas, it’s cash only.
WiFi is quite good throughout the city but there may be no cover in the narrowest streets.
Maybe Granada and Seville are better known that tranquil Cordoba, but there is no better place in the south of Spain to lose yourself in a string of unique historical monuments and a sea of flowers at every twist and turn.
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