Located in the south of Spain, in the beautiful region of Andalusia, Cordoba is a small but beautiful city that deserves to be visited. Known as the “beautiful Andalusia”, Cordoba has a fascinating history and several monuments that bear witness to a cultural and religious mix, notably its sumptuous mosque-cathedral and its Jewish quarter.
What is a must-see in Cordoba? How long to stay? How to explore the city, here is a travel guide to help you prepare your discovery of Cordoba!
Cordoba in short
When to go? Córdoba is a city where it can get hot very quickly, and in summer the high temperatures can make it difficult to stay. In addition, the small streets can quickly become saturated with tourists. I would therefore advise you to go in the spring or autumn to take advantage of the good weather and avoid the crowds.
How to get there? There is no airport in Córdoba, so you will have to get there from another major city in Andalusia. It takes 45 minutes by train from Seville and 1.5 hours from Granada.
Who is it for? For everyone (couples, friends, families) as long as you have an interest in heritage, as the points of interest in Cordoba are mainly historical monuments.
How long should I stay? Córdoba is a small city, and a day is enough to discover it, to be included in a tour of the rest of Andalusia.
How to communicate? You can easily make yourself understood in English or by “gabbing” a few words of Spanish!
How do I get around? Everything can be done easily on foot: 15 minutes from the station to the city centre where all the historical sites are located.
A little history to understand Cordoba
The city of Cordoba was founded in the 2nd century BC by the Romans, who gave it the Latin name of “Corduba”. It was an important city at the time, capital of the Baetica, the Roman province that took place in present-day Andalusia. The philosopher Seneca and the poet Lucan were born here.
When the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century, Cordoba came under the domination of the Vandals, the Visigoths and finally the Muslims in 711. This was a prosperous period for the city, which had nearly 300 mosques and numerous palaces.
The year 1236 marked a turning point when the city was taken by Ferdinand III of Castile during the “Reconquista”, the period of reconquest of Spain occupied by the Muslims by the Christians.
This long history explains the presence of Roman, Muslim and Christian monuments in the city, which you are sure to discover!
What should you visit in Cordoba?
Stroll through the historic centre
Start your visit to Córdoba by strolling through the historic centre, whose many cobbled streets are full of charm. The city is not very large, so don’t be afraid to get lost! Take the time to wander from one alley to the next, and you’re sure to come across some charming perspectives that are typical of the region.
The Cathedral Mosque
This is one of the most incredible monuments I have seen so far! The “Mezquita de Córdoba” is one of the most important religious monuments in the world and the reason it is so fascinating is that it has a fascinating history.
From the 8th century until 1236, this monument was a mosque built following the arrival of Abd al-Rahman I in the area. Expanded three times, this mosque covered 23,000 m2, making it the largest mosque in the world after Mecca. It is a vast quadrilateral of 180 x 130 meters in which one discovers a forest of 850 columns!
In 1236, when King Ferdinand III of Castile took back the city of Cordoba from the Muslims, the mosque was consecrated as a new Catholic church. Various alterations were made, but the most striking was the erection of the central chapel, “Capilla mayor”, in the 16th century, which seems to be a cathedral built in the middle of the mosque, giving this monument its atypical architecture! Although it is called a “mosque-cathedral”, Muslim worship is forbidden here and today it is only a Catholic place of worship.
Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Cathedral Mosque alone is worth a visit to Cordoba and is a must-see.
You can visit only the mosque-cathedral for 11 € or opt, for 3 € more, for the visit of the bell tower. This is a visit I recommend if you are physically fit (it is the equivalent of 12 floors to climb) because the view of the whole city is extraordinary and allows you to better understand the architecture of the building thanks to the view from above.
Prices: €11, €9 for under 26s,
6 € for children under 14, 4 € for children under 10
From 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm
Can be purchased online
Alcázar De Los Reyes Cristianos (Alcázar of the Christian Kings of Cordoba)
The other must-see monument in Córdoba is the Alcázar, located near the cathedral. Built on the ruins of the old Moorish fortress, this fortress was a defensive building that was the residence of the Catholic Kings after the Christian reconquest of Cordoba.
It was here that the Infanta Maria, Queen of Portugal, was born and where the Spanish monarchs met Christopher Columbus in 1492 as he prepared his first voyage to the Americas.
Tuesday to Sunday from 8.45 am to 3.15 pm
5 € / 2.5 € for under 26s
The Roman Bridge
Built over the Guadalquivir, this Roman bridge, also known as the “old bridge”, was the only bridge in Cordoba for twenty centuries. Built at the beginning of the 1st century during the Roman domination, the bridge was rebuilt in the 10th century by the Moorish Caliphs and then underwent several restorations.
Its massive architecture is not lacking in charm and has even seduced the directors of the Game of Thrones series, some of whose scenes were filmed here!
The synagogue of Cordoba is a relatively small medieval building whose interest lies in its 14th century Mudejar style.
What is the Mudejar style?
After the “Reconquista”, i.e. the reconquest of Muslim territory by the Christians, some Muslims were allowed to remain in the region. They were then called “Mudejar” which means “submissive”. The Mudejar style corresponds to the art created by the Muslims in the Christian era to decorate palaces and churches.
Book your hotel in Cordoba
There are many hotels and guesthouses available in Cordoba. Remember to book as early as possible to benefit from lower rates. Also, don’t hesitate to leave the city centre to find cheaper accommodation. As the city is small, you will be able to reach the tourist sites easily.
To help you find your way around Cordoba, here are the must-see sights on this map:
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