Córdoba (or "Qurṭubah" as it was known in Moorish times) is a history lover's dream. This beautiful Andalucian city boasts a wealth of Moorish and medieval sights, topped off by the extraordinary Mezquita, one of the world's greatest religious buildings.
Constructed in the 8th century, the Mezquita was Córdoba's main mosque. When the Spanish reconquered Andalucia, the jungle of columns and arches inside wasn't demolished (thankfully). Instead, they were integrated into a breathtaking cathedral that is unlike any other.
Córdoba's Old City dates back to the Roman era, but most of the most impressive sights were built under Muslim rule from around 750 AD to 1236. Join a tour to ensure that you don't miss a thing.
Every spring, Córdoba stages its "Feria". The longest of its type in Spain, this two-week spectacular is filled with bull fights, dancing, feasting and blazing color.
Córdoba is also a major international musical center. If you love classical or flamenco guitar, be there for the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra in July.
Córdoba's ancient history is being kept alive by its community of artisan ceramics producers. Head to workshops like Blas' for stunning pots and vases in an unique Córdovan style.
Built in 1523, the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was once the meeting place for Córdoba's most powerful. The cathedral was erected in the center of a mosque and mahogany choir stalls carved with scenes from the Bible were embedded. Visit the choir stalls and take in their beauty. You'll be amazed by the diverse architecture made from Islamic, Gothic, and Moorish themes. Stroll over to the Mezquita flanked alongside one of marble columns that support the church. Housed throughout the mosque-cathedral are a myriad of entrances and chapels. Visit the Parroquia del Sagrario Chapel and admire its three naves or venture the cathedral's western halls and admire the Holy Supper by Juan de Ortuño. This breathtaking painting is located at the altarpiece of the Chapel of Santa Ana. Alongside the Holy Supper you'll see five elaborate oil canvases by Pablo de Céspedes.
Adjacent to the Guadalquivir river sits the Alcazar castle, once the home of King Fernando and Isabella. As you walk through the palace, visit the room where Christopher Columbus proposed his intention to reach India by sailing via a western route. Stroll to the downstairs gallery where Moorish, Catholic, and Roman artifacts are displayed and admire their cultural diversity. If you love heights, climb Torre de Los Leones and take in an aerial view of Córdoba's pictorial countryside. After a tour of the castle, relax by the Moorish styled gardens and admire the Arabic-influenced architecture.
Located in Plaza de Proto, this 15th century Episcopal Palace is now home to Córdoba's Fine Art Museum. Its exhibits include the works of Antonio del Castillo, Regoyos, Gonzalo Bilbao, and other Andalusian Baroque painters representing the city's artistic history. Tour the chapel, dining-room, and a hall paying tribute to Córdoba's artists. Its various galleries include medieval art, tapestries, the Cathedral's own collection of psalm books, and many digital panels describing pieces of historical art.
Located in the historic center of Córdoba, Córdoba's Roman bridge lies alongside the Guadalquivir river. Lavishly designed with sixteen Moorish styled arches, four of the arches are pointed while the rest have a semi-circular pattern. Take a stroll on the bridge and marvel at the Mosque-Cathedral and head towards the statue of San Rafael.
Take a tour of the Viana Courtyards and admire the architecture that complements each garden. Explore each of the 12 courtyards and marvel at the homage paid to Earth's plants, flowers, light, and water. Each courtyard has its individual theme and style. Roam through the Courtyard of the Cats and admire its Medieval decor. For a romantic stroll under the stars, book a night time tour of the palace and courtyards.
If you want to party with the locals, visit in late May for Feria. However, for sightseeing, April and early May are better, with fewer crowds. Summer is scorching hot, while the fall brings a little more rain, but is generally ideal for touring the sights.
The closest major airport is in Malaga, which has good European connections. From there, catch a train into Maria Zambrano Station, then tansfer to a Córdoba service (around EUR18).
Córdoba's station on the Avenida de America has links to Sevilla, Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid, and is located at the heart of town.
Take the E5 from Madrid or Seville, the A45 from Malaga or the A7 then the A45 from Barcelona.
Socibus services from Madrid run into central Córdoba (about 4 hours 50 minutes, EUR20).
Historical hotels like the Balcon De Córdoba and the Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailío offer rooftop terraces and beautiful rooms. There are also high-quality modern options like the Hotel Eurostars Palace.
La Catedral - Córdoba's historical core, La Catedral is home to the Mezquita, so it's the first port of call for most visitors.
San Basilio - South of the city center, San Basilio is home to a gorgeous palace built by the Spanish conquerors and great tapas bars like La Viuda.
Centro - Córdoba's modern heart, Centro is packed with shops and lively bars like Glam or Jazz Cafe, as well as lovely green spaces like the Jardines de la Merced.
Aucorsa provides bus connections to most parts of town and charge EUR1.30 for a single ticket.
Expect taxis to charge around EUR5 for the first mile, then EUR2 per mile after that.
Car rental companies in the Córdoba area include Avis and Budget, who charge around EUR20 per day for smaller vehicles.
For the best shopping opportunities, head for Plaza de las Tendillas, where you'll find boutiques like Matilde Cano and La Ormiga. Check out Blas' Ceramics as well, for gorgeous pottery creations.
Local supermarkets include SuperAlCoop and Dia. Expect to pay around EUR1.80 for 12 eggs.
Córdoba is a great destination for tapas lovers. Check out Casa Mazal or La Fragua if you are near the Mezquita for some exceptional home-cooked Andalucian fare. Prices should be around EUR20 per head.