City Guide to Cordoba, Spain
Author: Julie Thompson | Last Updated: 23 Jun 2018
Córdoba is like Seville’s younger sibling, while it may seem much smaller than Seville, this neighbouring city boasts some of the prettiest patios and streets in the south of Spain. During the spring, residents’ patios are shown off to the public signalling the beginning of the season in a creative way. It is also home to the Mezquita, a Moorish mosque characterised by its many distinctive arches which really leave an impression.
Best time of year to visit:
The best time of year to visit Córdoba is in the spring. Like Seville, and many Andalusian cities, Córdoba reaches insufferable temperatures for many people in the summer so it’s advisable to visit in the Spring. Furthermore, if you’re around in the month of May, you can bear witness to the battle of flowers and patio festivals, vibrant events which really show off the vitality of spring.
First up, the large Moorish palace comparable to that of Seville, this palace is different though, at one time home to Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, it boasts a long history and was once even used as a garrison by the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte. Historical significance aside, the palace houses a large, exotic garden and a large pool of water lined with fountains. You can contemplate the eventful history of the palace while wandering around the many courtyards, before exploring the interior, full of great halls and royal baths.
If you’re planning to visit in the spring, make sure you are here for the first few weeks of May, not only will the sun most likely be shining, but you can join the spring festivities. Something the Cordobés people take great pride in, the patio festival is a celebration of the residents’ patios which they open up to the public once a year. This festival is unique since unless you are invited to the home of an Andaluz, you’re unlikely to witness the splendour and beauty of a traditional patio decorated with typically blue plant pots and an array of vibrant flowers.
Calleja de las flores
If you can’t get enough of these patios, or couldn’t make it to the patio festival, you should go to the ‘Calleja de las flores’ (the street of flowers). This narrow street is decorated generously with radiant blue plant pots and flowers everywhere you look, and the street leads straight towards the cathedral too providing an excellent photo opportunity. The narrow street has become iconic in the city, representing the life and vibrant nature of the locals and the exciting way they bring the place to life with flowers and plant pots.
Mosque Cathederal of Cordoba
The cathedral of any spanish city is usually worth a visit, and that of Córdoba is no exception. In fact, this cathedral stands out among many others for the fact that it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the south of Spain, and is also known as the Mezquita. The Mezquita is a large Moorish-style cathedral, with a giant courtyard at its entrance and inside a labyrinth of red and white striped arches stretch out as far as the eye can see. Such an unusual interior makes this cathedral worth entering, after all it is considered one of the best examples of Moorish architecture. Visiting Córdoba without seeing the Mezquita would be like going to New York and missing out on Central Park, it is essential.
Salmorejo, the cold tomato soup with bread, garlic and olive oil, was first thought up in the city of Córdoba so this is the place to try it. If the idea of cold tomato soup doesn’t sound very appetising to you, then why not try one of the other flavours on offer at Mercado Victoria, like beetroot, avocado or even squid ink. If you still can’t get into the uncommon taste of salmorejo, then explore the other gourmet tapas available at the market such as a plate of jamón or a board of cheeses. High quality, locally sourced food is a priority at this market so you won’t be disappointed if you decide to go there for lunch or pass through for a snack.
After a nice Andalusian lunch, take a stroll down towards the river and cross the bridge take in the city from the other side. When you get to the other side, you will notice the distinct Roman style to the bridge as you look back across the city. Built by the Romans in the 1st century BC, this bridge has been around for centuries and has been reconstructed and renovated various times so it can act as a reminder of Córdoba’s rich and extensive history spanning different civilisations. If you’re looking for a great photo, head down to the embankment and capture the historical bridge looming in the background.
Talking of Córdoba’s long and varied history, the Viana palace offers visitors the chance to explore a building that has been around for 5 centuries. Originally a medieval house, the palace evolved over time into a renaissance palace, adopting elements for different eras and art styles along the way. Similar to the alcazar, the Viana palace has many courtyards and halls waiting to be explored, many of them featuring the typical cordobés features. Inside you will get a glimpse of what it used to be like for Andaluz nobility, an idea into how royalty and the upper classes used to live.
Plaza de la corredera
When you imagine large, open squares in Europe, you probably think of something similar to the plaza de la corredera in Córdoba. The grand 17th century plaza, centrally located in the city, is full of bars, cafes and restaurants with the outdoor terraces that you would expect from a spanish city. What makes this square different is the mesmerising red and white pattern present in the surrounding balconied apartments, it’s hard to take your eyes off the simple yet striking design. The best time of day to experience this plaza at its liveliest is in the morning when there are many market stalls set up selling fresh, local produce.
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