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If you're into stunning architecture, rich history, and a dash of that classic Spanish charm, you've come to the right place! Cordoba is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.
Whether you're a history buff, a foodie looking to savor some mouthwatering tapas, or an avid Instagrammer seeking those perfect Instagram-worthy shots, Cordoba has something to offer everyone.
In this post, we're going to take you on a whirlwind tour of the 10 most important places to visit in Cordoba.
So, grab your sun hat, and let's uncover the secrets of this incredible city!
Without a doubt the number one on the list is the Mosque-Cathedral, one of the most incredible buildings you can visit in Spain.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba combines history, impressive architecture, and religious significance, making it a must-see for visitors to Cordoba.
The exterior of the building is sober, but the interior, full of marble columns and beautiful arches, leave tourists speechless.
Today the building belongs to the Catholic Church, but formerly this building was a 23,000 square meter Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world in the Middle Ages.
The most incredible thing is that the Muslim part of the building has been preserved to this day and shares space with the Christian cathedral. It is precisely this Christian-Muslim combination that makes this building so special.
But surely you are wondering how the mosque became a cathedral.
The origin of this impressive building dates back to 784 when the Muslims decided to build a mosque over the Christian Basilica of St. Vincent Martyr.
Although little remains of that primitive mosque because throughout the Middle Ages the mosque underwent countless renovations and extensions.
However, the most important transformation took place in the 16th century when the Christians, who had conquered the city several centuries earlier, decided to build a Christian cathedral in the middle of the old mosque.
Although it may seem a controversial decision today, it was the construction of the cathedral that allowed the mosque to be preserved. Otherwise, the Mosque of Cordoba would have been demolished and lost forever.
In short, if you only have a short time to visit Cordoba, you should start with this building. You will not regret it.
Of course, the second place on our list is occupied by the Alcazar of Cordoba.
All the civilizations that passed through Cordoba gave importance to this building.
Initially, the building served as a residence for Roman governors (from the 2nd century B.C. until the fall of the Roman Empire) and then as a fortress under Visigothic rule (Middle Ages).
When the Muslims conquered the city, they modified the building and converted it into a Royal Palace.
Later, the Christians destroyed the old Muslim Alcazar and built from scratch this building to function as a residence when the kings visited the city. As a curious fact, the Catholic Monarchs met in this building with Christopher Columbus himself to finalize preparations for his voyage to America.
If you visit the Alcazar of Cordoba, you cannot miss:
Undoubtedly the most visited part of the building. The beautiful gardens are an oasis of peace full of fountains, irrigation ditches, trees, flowers, and aromatic plants.
The Alcazar of Cordoba had 4 towers that protected the building, but only two of them can be visited today: the Torre del Homenaje and the Torre de los Leones. The panoramic views of the historic center from these towers are really wonderful.
For centuries this room was used as a Catholic chapel. When the church lost the ownership of the building, this room began to be used by the Town Hall for various uses, such as: meetings, civil weddings, etc. Don't miss the interesting Roman mosaics that decorate the walls.
Under the Mosaic Hall you can visit the Royal Baths, Although the Royal Baths were created for Christian kings (14th century), they were designed following the Muslim model: a cold room, a warm room, and a hot room.
Later the Royal baths lost their use and unfortunately began to be used as prison cells and torture rooms.
Medina Azahara is a city-palace built in the Muslim era. But if you want to discover this amazing place, there is only one small problem. You will have to travel approximately 10 kilometers from the center of Cordoba. But honestly it is a visit that is well worth it.
In the 10th century the Caliph Abderraman III decided to build this immense city-palace as a sign of the wealth and power of his Caliphate. A few years earlier Cordoba had been declared the capital of the Caliphate.
The city is structured in three levels. In the two upper parts lived the Caliph and the elite of the city. Of course, this part of the city was equipped with all kinds of comforts and luxuries. In the lower part of Medina Azahara lived the workers of the city and also housed the mosque.
Unfortunately, the city was devastated by the internal strife and civil war that ravaged the Caliphate. However, thanks to the work of archaeologists it has been possible to recover a good part of the city and reconstruct important parts such as the Rich Hall where the Caliph received his guests.
In short, if you like history, you cannot miss Medina Azahara.
To get to Medina Azahara from the center of Cordoba there are buses that leave from Paseo de la Victoria, in front of the gourmet market of La Victoria.
The ancient residence of the Muslim rulers in Cordoba was demolished with the arrival of the Christians in the 13th century.
For centuries it was thought that nothing was left of the building, but in 1903 some routine works allowed to discover the remains of the Caliph Baths that were part of Muslim Alcazar (the ancient residence of the Muslim rulers).
The visit to the Caliph Baths is really interesting and will allow you to know how this type of baths worked. Among other rooms, you will be able to visit the dressing room, the cold, warm and hot water rooms, or the room where the boilers were.
Although it may seem incredible, these baths had a primitive heating system that circulated hot air under the floor. Something fascinating considering that these baths are more than 1000 years old.
The Romans were true experts in civil engineering works. And of course, in Cordoba you can find good examples of this.
The most significant example of Roman engineering in Cordoba is undoubtedly the Roman Bridge. A work that after more than two thousand years is still standing and fully operational.
This bridge was built in the 1st century B.C. and was part of the emblematic Via Augusta, a Roman road that crossed the Iberian Peninsula from the Pyrenees to Cadiz (1,300 kilometers).
This Roman road allowed to promote trade, move troops more quickly and ultimately a more efficient management of the different regions.
The Roman Bridge has a total length of 300 meters and 16 arches. An incredible work of engineering for that time.
The Roman Bridge of Cordoba also houses some places of great interest such as the Calahorra Tower where you can visit the Museum of Al-Andalus, the Arch of Triumph- gate to the city dating from the sixteenth century-, and the sculpture dedicated to San Rafael, Custodian of the City.
The history of Spain, and especially of Cordoba, could not be understood without the Jewish community.
All major Spanish cities had an influential Jewish community, which often held positions of responsibility in local government and finance.
Unfortunately, the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 in Spain marked a turning point in the history of Spain.
The Jewish quarter of Cordoba that we visit today in Cordoba dates back to the 14th century and still retains much of its structure. In fact, it is one of the largest and best preserved medieval Jewish quarters in Europe.
Although, to tell the truth, the coexistence between religions was not always easy in the Middle Ages. That is why the Jewish quarter of Cordoba was surrounded by a wall from the rest of the city.
The narrow and winding layout of the streets, typical of medieval urbanism, is home to places of interest that you cannot miss:
- Sculpture of Maimonides, a prominent Jewish philosopher, physician, and rabbi who was born in Cordoba in 1138.
- The synagogue of Cordoba, built in 1315.
- The chapel of San Bartolomé, built in 1399.
- The Municipal Souk, a handicraft market located in a 15th century house.
- Casa Sefard, a cultural space, and museum dedicated to the history of the Jews in Cordoba and Spain
- The Almodovar Gate which was part of the medieval walls and was one of the boundaries of the Jewish quarter.
The Synagogue of Cordoba is one of the three medieval synagogues that remain standing after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
It is a small and modest building, but full of deep religious significance for the Jews.
The Cordoba Synagogue was built in 1315. In fact, its interior still preserves the original decoration and inscriptions in Hebrew.
After the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, the building was used for different purposes such as a hospital or a Catholic chapel.
In short, the Cordoba Synagogue is an incredible building that allows visitors to travel 700 years back in time and explore a Mudejar architectural jewel (architecture from Christian times with Muslim influence).
If you want to delve into the history of the Jewish people in Cordoba and Spain there is no better place than Casa Sefarad.
The term "Sefarad" refers to the Hebrew word for Spain and is used to refer to the culture of the Sephardic Jews, which are the Jews who lived on the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in 1492.
The Sefarad House in Cordoba is dedicated to preserving and disseminating the history of the Jewish community in Spain and its contribution to culture and society.
Inside you can visit exhibitions and attend cultural events and conferences related to Jewish culture. It is truly an enriching and interesting visit.
Right in front of the Sefarad House, is located the Andalusi House. This charming historic building is a window into the past that transports visitors to the golden age of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain from 711 to 1492).
The building's unremarkable exterior contrasts with the interior.
Walking through the building's rooms and courtyards, you can admire the wonderful craftsmanship of Andalusian artisans through the impressive mosaic floors, the iconic star-shaped skylights and the elegant stucco details that embellish the walls.
But it is not only interesting for its architecture, the Casa Andalusi houses an interesting collection of Islamic art, ceramics and furniture of the Muslim period, providing a unique insight into the Arab influence in the region.
This museum is truly a must-see for history lovers.
the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba exhibits an incredible collection of paintings, ancient coins, sculptures and numerous material testimonies from different periods.
The museum is divided into :
Among the most curious pieces of the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba, you can find two models: one of the Roman Temple of Cordoba, and another of the minaret of the Mosque of Cordoba (nowadays the Cathedral bell tower).
If after visiting all the rooms of the museum, you still want more, in the basement of the building you can visit the archaeological remains of the Roman Theater of Cordoba, one of the largest of the Roman Empire with capacity for more than 15,000 spectators.
Cordoba has proven itself to be an absolute gem for travelers. Don't think twice and travel to Cordoba to visit one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.