A weekend in Cordoba

The world remains in lockdown; the days have just merged in to one long blur. I’ve decided it’s like being on a really long luxury flight – I’m in joggers, watching movies, reading books and drinking prosecco from about 2pm! I’m so grateful to be comfortable at home, still have a job, and be healthy – though I’m definitely missing travelling. So it’s back to the armchair travel and catching up on some old trips!

Today we head to Cordoba – a city in southern Spain. Historically it was a major Roman city, and an important Islamic centre in the Middle Ages (once the largest city west of Constantinople, and seat of the first European University!). To reach Cordoba is really easy – you can get there in about an hour on the train from Seville. It’s also really close to Malaga and Marbella, or about 2.5 hours on the train from Madrid.

So, what is there to do in Cordoba, I hear you say? Is it worth the trip? Yes, it definitely is, especially if you’re in to history or architecture. Here are our top things to do there.

ONE. The Mezquita

The highlight of the trip to Cordoba – it’s worth visiting just to see this! Normally the queues are quite long, so it’s definitely worth getting there early to try and avoid the crowds.

The Mezquita-Cathedral (Mosque-Cathedral) is an astonishing building. The original mosque was constructed in the 700s, and then after the Dissolution of the Caliphate in 1031 the building was later dedicated to the Catholic faith. The Catholics decided the mosque was too beautiful to destroy, so they just built a cathedral in the middle of it! The result is an incredible array of arches, vaults, ceilings, altars, materials and pillars from every phase of construction. Mass has been held every day since 1236! The mosque’s ornamental ‘mihrab’ showing the direction of prayer remains in situ.

Inside the Mezquita
Cathedral and Mosque side by side

It really is spectacular and I’ve never seen anything else like it!

TWO. The Alcazar

An Alcazar is a palace built in Moorish times – and the Alcazar in Cordoba includes a castle, some lovely gardens and a Moorish bathhouse. The gardens were my favourite part, and from the top of the Alcazar there are lovely views across the courtyard to the Puento Romano (Roman bridge) and the Torre del Alminar (bell tower).

The gardens of the Alcazar
Alcazar gardens

THREE. Puento Romano

The Roman bridge was first built in the 1st or 2nd century, but was controversially refurbished in 2007 when the cobblestones were replaced with slabs, modern lighting was added and the support walls were remodelled, but the structure still retains much Roman stonework. It’sa lovely pedestrianised area, perfect for a little stroll.

The Puento Romano

FOUR. Puerta del Puente

This is the Renaissance gate and you can climb up it for lovely views on to the bridge and across to the medieval guard tower, which now includes a nice museum perfect for an hour’s visit. This area is also lovely at night, to see the bridge lit up in the dark.

View to the bridge

FIVE. Courtyard gardens

We visited in May and at the time there is a ‘Patio Festival’ where everyone fills their courtyards with colourful flowers and pots. Also in May is the annual fair – huge crowds, lots of stalls and lights and a funfair! There were beer tents, lots of Flamenco and some yummy food on offer. A real experience.

Pretty courtyards

The best of the rest in Cordoba…

  • Tapas and Flamenco – both are big in Cordoba. There are many Flamenco theatres in the city, which are a great way to experience this amazing tradition, including Tablao Flamenco El Cardenal and Carmen Gastroflamenco.
  • The old (Jewish) quarter this area is close to the Mosque, and is a beautiful area of cobblestone streets, lots of pretty souvenir shops and nice eateries, as well as a synagogue.
  • The Caliphate baths – these Arab baths were constructed in the 10th century and were restored in the 1960s to make for an interesting museum.
  • The bullfighting museum – Cordoba has bullfighting in its DNA – with a rich history of legends and culture. I’m not a fan of bullfighting, but I found the museum interesting and helped me understand some other points of view.
  • Botanical gardens – a nice area for a stroll, with greenhouses, lots of different areas and a cafe.
More Cordoba gardens

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it’s inspired you to visit Cordoba, or helped you plan a trip there – when we are all out of lock down of course! But for now, stay home (preferably with that glass of prosecco) and stay safe, everyone.

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