The name, Cordoba, instantly conjures up the image of the majestic Mezquita, one of the world’s greatest Islamic buildings. This grand monument is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a symbol of Cordoba’s heritage as the Islamic capital of Spain more than 1000 years ago.
But there’s more to this Spanish city than this, even if it is the Mezquita which puts a trip to Cordoba high on your wishlist. Sat on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, this lively city is filled with atmospheric narrow streets, busy tapas bars and medieval architecture. Its colourful courtyards, decorated with cheerful flowerbeds have earned it the nickname of the ‘City of Flowers’.
Although a tour of Cordoba is sure to focus on the city’s Islamic heritage, this historic place actually has Roman roots, when it was once an outpost of the Roman Empire. A city of three cultures, here you can trace the influences of Christianity, Islam and Judaism throughout the old quarter.
Situated in the region of Andalusia, visiting Cordoba is an unmissable highlight of any tour of Spain. Untouched by mass tourism, here you can experience authentic Andalusian hospitality and marvel at some of the most spectacular architecture in the country.
At the top of the list of things to see in Cordoba is of course the spectacular Mezquita, also known as the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba or the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumption. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 8th-century when Islamic leaders constructed a mosque on the site of an old Visigothic cathedral. Expanded over the centuries, including the addition of a Christian cathedral in the 16th-century, today the Mezquita acts like a living piece of history. The interior is spacious with an eclectic mix of decorative styles. Highlights include the charming Patio de Los Naranjos, a courtyard filled with orange trees, and the Torre Campanario Bell Tower. Climb the 54-meters to the top for unforgettable panoramic views across the city.
Another relic of Cordoba’s rich history is the Medina Azahara, the remains of a 10th-century city palace and a major archaeological site. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, guided tours of the ruins bring to life the spectacular architecture and importance of what was once one of the most beautiful cities in the caliphate. Around 7-kilometers from the city center, Medina Azahara is easily reached by public transport.
One of the best-preserved medieval synagogues in Spain, Cordoba’a Sinagoga is located in the old Jewish quarter. Unique in Andalusia, this ornate place of worship dates back to the early 14th-century. Considered a national monument today, a visit to this synagogue just goes to show the diversity of this historic city.
Delving even further back in time, an icon of the cityscape is the Roman Bridge, one of the best things to see in Cordoba. Spanning the Guadalquivir River and dating back to the 1st century, today this pedestrian bridge is part of the protected historic center of Cordoba. Cross the bridge to feel the immense history of this city beneath your feet!