Although tourists set their sights on Seville, Granada or Madrid when they think about visiting Spain, it would be a mistake not to go to Cordoba.
Cordoba is the only city in the world with four protected UNESCO sites. It is one of the few places in Europe where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together relatively peacefully. It is the home of the largest mosque in the world which co-exists with a cathedral. It was an important Roman city as well as a major Islamic center. It was the largest economic and culture center in the Western world.
In southern Spain, Cordoba is a fabulous place to visit in spring or autumn. In the summer, temperatures can reach 100 or higher making sightseeing difficult.
At GetAway Travel we can arrange your trip to Cordoba and some of the surrounding cities and make sure you have tickets to the bull-fighting museum and/or Cordoba’s month-long flower festival.
Mezquita is the city’s star attraction
Mezquita or the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba looks like a cathedral from the outside, but inside you can see the storied heritage where a mosque once stood. The site actually started as a church, then it was torn down to make way for the mosque and then was converted to a Christian house of worship around 1236.
Imagine, the largest mosque in the world built in the 10th Century surrounded by a 16th Century cathedral.
While an altar sits in the center you can see the mosque design in the endless, gorgeous striped archways. It is a unique structure well worth of UNESCO status.
West and northwest of Mezquita, narrow streets make up Judería de Cordoba, the Jewish quarter of Cordoba. Jews lived in this area between the 10th and 15th centuries. Judería is close to the center of the city which shows cultural importance since that was the power center of the city.
As Jews fled persecution in other areas, Judería became home for some of the most famous and respected members of society including doctors, administrators, lawyers, philosophers and poets.
Spectacular examples of ancient architecture abound
The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos also known as the Alcázar of Cordoba is a medieval fortress that was the home of Isabella I and King Ferdinand II. Hallways surround gorgeous gardens with exotic flowers, herbs and mature trees. The gardens fell into disrepair for a time, but are back to their splendor. The orange blossom gardens are particularly fragrant. There are great views of the city from any of the four towers at the palace corners.
There are elements of gothic and Arabic design in the palace. It has an important place in history because it is here that the royal couple commissioned Christopher Columbus to take on the voyage to the New World.
The Episcopal Palace was built in the 15th Century on the remains of the Caliph’s palace. The palace houses the Diocese Museum. The museum has extensive collections of religious art as well as ancient psalm books and tapestries.
The Roman Bridge, built over the Guadalquivir River is a prime example of Roman building and also one of the best places to photograph some breathtaking sunsets.
Food, flowers and flamenco
Let’s start with flamenco. Tourists have the mistaken impression that every bar you go to has local residents dancing the flamenco. That idea sells the dance style short. It is a guitar and castanet playing theatrical style show. Flamenco performances are held in numerous venues throughout the city and usually require a ticket. Your GetAway Travel advisor can help you ferret out a venue that will work for you and also get tickets to a performance or any of the other tours offered in the city.
Free flamenco performances as well as bullfights are part of the Fiera de Córdoba in late May. That is a week long celebration that sometimes eases into early June and it marks the end of the Feria de los Patios. The Fiera de los Patios is a gigantic flower festival and garden walk where the internal courtyards of some of the oldest and finest homes are decorated with flowers and plants and open to the public.
Although not every bar and restaurant has flamenco, they do all have some sort of tapas. Tapas, or small plates, can be anything from olives to pieces of beef slow simmered in a wine sauce. You usually order a drink and get a tapa! You can order others from the tapa menu or ask for the house specialty.
You can also get tortillas, but they are not the Mexican variety of tortillas. Tortillas in Spain are thick omelets with potatoes and other vegetables mixed in served cut in wedges. Eat a tortilla like a local and submerge it in salmorejo which is a cold tomato-based soup with garlic and olive oil and breadcrumbs. Top it with dry cured ham and hard-boiled eggs. Flamenquin is a deep-fried battered roll of ham, pork loin and cheese and rabo de toro is bull or ox tail simmered for hours in a red wine sauce.
Walk off the calories in the shops that feature pottery, artisan jewelry and handcrafted leather items renowned around the world.
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