Cordoba, historic city
The city of Córdoba, whose historic centre has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, has a rich architectural and cultural heritage from its various legacies. Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir, it was notably the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba under the Umayyad dynasty and one of the leading cities of Islam.
Seneca, Lucain, Avarroes, Mainonides and many other thinkers were born there, making Córdoba a centre for philosophical research.
It is in the labyrinth of alleyways of the old town, the Judería, gathered around the Cathedral Mosque, squares and whitewashed patios that one can best feel the Spanish-Moorish atmosphere peculiar to Andalusia.
This illustrious past has also left its mark in local craftsmanship. Already famous in the Middle Ages for its leather craftsmanship, this knowledge has been perpetuated to this day with the work of cordobán, a cow or goat leather of great quality, light and soft. Córdoba is also famous for its jewellery, an important economic sector for the city.
In the middle of an agricultural plain, Córdoba has been able to combine past and present by offering modern infrastructures and services while being well connected to the other Andalusian capitals and Spanish cities, especially by train and bus.
Monuments of Cordoba
Alcazar of Córdoba
The Alcázar de los Reyes Católicos, a gothic fortress palace built in the 14th century during the reign of Alfonso XI of Castile, served first as a royal residence for eight years before being used as a permanent court by the Inquisition by the successors of Isabella and Ferdinand de Castilla.
The Alcazar of the Catholic Kings was declared a historical monument in 1931 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The magnificent gardens of the Alcazar designed on the former califal alcazar have been protected since 1986.
Built near the banks of the Guadalquivir and Judería on the site of a Visigothic fortress, the Umayyads first made it the Caliphal Alcazar of Córdoba. Later, Abd Er-Rahman I established the Emirate of Córdoba and enlarged the Caliphate palace by adding baths, gardens and a library which was at that time the most important in the West.
Some rooms open to the public allow you to discover a 3rd century sarcophagus, Roman mosaics and ancient Moorish baths.
The gardens of the Alcazar, unique in their design, extend over three terraces. On the upper terrace, two huge reservoirs collect water from the Sierra to channel it to the lower terrace, which is accessed by a large staircase. Three basins, statues, various beds, some boxwood and cypress hedges adorn it.
Among these statues, those of the Catholic Kings: Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile who received Christopher Columbus in audience at this place as he was preparing his departure for what would become, not the Indies, but the New World.
Access: Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires.
Visits: Tuesday to Friday from 8:30 am to 8:45 pm, Saturdays to 4:30 pm, Sundays from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Closed Mondays.
Admission: 4,50 €. Students: 2,25 €. Free from 8:30 amto 10:30 amTuesday to Friday except public holidays.
Sound and light show from March to September at 8:00 pm, 9:00 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:30 pm or 11:30 pm.
GUIDED TOURS OF THE ALCAZAR
Chapel San Bartelomé
Parish chapel built between the 14th and 15th centuries, the Capilla de San Bartolomé is, with its superb altarpiece, an exquisite example of Mudejar art.
Located in the Faculty of Letters, the former hospital of Cardinal Salazar to which it was annexed in the Baroque period, it underwent important restoration in the 19th century.
Once you have passed through the main portal, surmounted by a triple arcaded portico, you will discover a nave crossing the ribs, numerous plaster casts and walls covered with beautiful earthenware tiles, as well as a bedside table showing remains of murals.
Access: Calle Averroes. Judería.
Opening hours: 15 July to 15 September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30 am. to 1.30 pm. Closed on Mondays.
From mid-September to mid-July: Mondays from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, Sundays from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. Admission: 1,50 €, weekend 2 €.
Strolling along the Guadalquivir to link the historic centre and the Campo de la Verdad district, it was the only bridge in the city for twenty centuries until the construction of the San Rafael bridge in the middle of the 20th century and the main crossing point between Andalusia and the north of the country in this part of Spain without having to use a boat.
Dating from the 1st century BC, it has a range of 330 metres and has sixteen arches that were embellished during the Caliphate period.
The two defensive towers at its ends, the Calahorra tower and the Puerta del Puente tower, are of Muslim origin. In the past, the bridge gate was equipped with an office where the traveller had to pay consumer fees before entering the city.
The current door was designed in 1572 by the architect Hernan Ruiz. In the centre of the bridge, you can admire the work of sculptor Gomez el Rio:’ San Rafael’ created in 1651.
Renovated in 2004, it has become a pedestrian walkway allowing you to discover the Guadalquivir riverbanks, as it is close to the small nature reserve called Sotos de Albolafia, where many varieties of birds nest.
In this same space among the many windmills of the city you can discover near Torre de la Calahorra, almost opposite the recently renovated Molino de San Antonio and on the other side of the bridge El Molino de la Albolafia drawn on the coat of arms of Córdoba.
Puerta del Puente
The bridge gate, originally included in the ancient Muslim walls surrounding the city, was refurbished in a renaissance style in 1572 by the architect Hernán Ruiz III on the orders of the city governor Alonso Gonzales Arteagale.
The ensemble shows a central passage followed by two Doric columns and topped by a classical entablature.
It is possible to climb on this arch sometimes called Arc de Triomphe, the view on the Guadalquivir, the Mezquita and the city is splendid.
Access: Plaza del Triunfo. Right bank.
Visits Monday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm, from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Admission: 1€, free for children under 5 years old. Schedules vary widely, ask for information.
In the historic centre of the medieval city, the synagogue of Córdoba is a modest Mudéjar-style building built in the 14th century.
The synagogue, like the entire old town, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. Preserved inside, the inaugural plaque indicates its construction by the master builder Isaq Moheb in 1315.
Together with those of Toledo, these are the last synagogues dating from before the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.
After the so-called Alhambra decree, signed by the Catholic Kings authorizing this massive expulsion of the entire Jewish population of Spain, the synagogue of Córdoba was transformed into a hospital, the Hospital of Santa Quiteria, for people infected with the rabies virus.
It was later used in 1588 as a hermitage, El Ermita de San Crispin y San Crispiniano, patron saint of shoemakers, then as a public school in the 19th century.
After Rafaël Romero Barros discovered the Hebrew inscription inside the building in 1884, it was classified as a Cultural Heritage the following year.
Restored several times, it was opened to the public after the democratic transition in 1985. Year that coincides with the commemoration of the 850th anniversary of the birth of the physician philosopher and Talmudist theologian Maimonides Moses Maimonides. Maybe she’s closed to visits right now.
Access: Calle Judios, 20.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 amto 2 pmand then from 3:30 pm to 5 pm, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm on Sundays and public holidays. Closed at Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Crafts of Cordoba
It is in the cobbled and pedestrian lanes of the historic centre of Córdoba, particularly in the streets of the Judería district and around the Mezguita, that the main craft shops, fashionable shops and shops selling local products are set up.
Filigree silver filigree objects from the Jewish artisan tradition, articles in embossed or polychrome leather and gastronomic products, the reputation of Cordoba’s know-how has long since surpassed its borders.
The Cordouan sombrero, a felt with a broad, flat, flat, low-cut and cylindrical edge, first worn by agricultural labourers, dates back to the 17th century. From the twentieth century onwards, its use became widespread in Andalusia, making it the flagship product of this traditional craft industry.
See at this address: Sombrería Rusi. Calle Del Conde de Cárdenas, 1.
Restaurants, taverns or bars in the old town are the places where you can enjoy local gastronomy with many influences. The Romans introduced olive oil, the Moors introduced dried fruit, sweet and sour sauces and pastries, the Christians introduced meat.
Mezquita: Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba
Situated in the heart of the historic centre, the Mosque of Córdoba presents various architectural styles that have superimposed themselves on the construction and alterations that have lasted nine centuries.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba, Mezquita de Córdoba, was erected in 785 by Abd Er-Rahman I on the remains of an ancient Visigothic church, the Church of San Vicente, itself established on a Roman temple dedicated to Janus. Known as the most accomplished monument of Umayyad art in Cordoba, the mosque-cathedral was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
From the last Muslim alterations in the 10th century, there remains a magnificent maze of double row of arcaded columns combining semicircular arches and horseshoe arches. The mihrab of the mosque, richly decorated with marble panels, is one of the most important in the Muslim world.
The Sala de Oración prayer hall, a jewel of Islamic architecture, has 850 columns of jasper, marble and granite in different colours.
At the Catholic reconquest by King Ferdinand III of Castile, a cathedral replaced the great mosque and took the ecclesiastical name of Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.
The ancient minaret, Torre del Alminar, which was closed to visits and entered through the Door of Forgiveness, offered a magnificent view of the city.
Among its Christian ornaments are the Baroque altarpiece and the mahogany wood choir stalls completed by Byzantine mosaics and carved marbles.
Access: Calle Cardenal Herrero, 1.
Immanquishable from the banks of the Guadalquivir, one enters the vast patio known as’ Oranges’ through the Postigo de los Deanes and to the mosque through the St Catherine’s gate.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 7 pm., until 7:30 pm from April to June, 5:30 pm. in December and January. From 8:30 am to 10 am and from 2 pm to 6 pm on Sundays and public holidays, until 7 pm. from March to October.
Admission: 8 €, children: 4 €. Free in the morning from 8:30 am to 10 am, partial visit, except on Sundays and during services.
REPORTAGE ABOUT CORDOBA
VISIT OF THE CATHEDRAL MOSQUE
CALAHORRA TOWER – LIVING MUSEUM OF AL ANDALUS.
Located on the left bank of the Guadalquivir, the Torre de la Calahorra is a defensive gate built in the Almohad period to protect the Puente Romano, the old Roman bridge dating from the 1st century B. C. access to the medieval city.
Dating from the 12th century, it was originally made up of an arched door framed by two square towers. Effectively, the fortified gate forced Ferdinand III of Castile to use rafts to cross the river in order to conquer Cordoba in 1236.
To the existing square towers, Henry II of Castile had three towers added, two of them cylindrical, giving the Calahorra its current appearance.
Declared a Historic Monument in 1931, the Calahorra Tower, which was renovated in 195, now houses the Living Museum of Al-Andalus.
Museum that informs about the city’s ecumenical past, its impact on science and philosophy. Beautiful models, a free audio guide in French, a magnificent view of the Roman bridge and the mosque-cathedral complete the visit.
Access: Puente Romano left bank. In front of the Mezquita.
Opening hours: every day from 10am to 6pm, summer from 10am to 2pm and then from 4:30pm to 8:30pm. Admission: 4.50 €. Reduced price: 3€. Audiovisual screening: 1.20 €, 5 to 6 daily screenings.
Built in the fourteenth century, then modified and enlarged from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, the Viana Palace, also known as the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana, was transformed into a museum in 1980 after its acquisition by the Provincial Fund of Cordoba of the third marquise de Viana, a widow and without descendants.
Various rooms, bedrooms or living rooms still show decorations from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The palace also has an archive of about 800 documents relating the history of the Viana Lords and the Cordoba nobility through wills, deeds of privileges or concessions. The oldest, written in Latin with a few words of old Castilian, dates back to 1119.
Added and transformed over the centuries, twelve patios and gardens were renovated and opened to the public in 2012 in a profusion of colours and scents due to bougainvillea, orange trees and roses in the gentle murmurs of the many fountains.
Access: Plaza de Don Gome, 2.
Timetable: July – August: Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm. The rest of the year: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm, Sundays from 10am to 3pm. Closed on Monday.
Admission: full visit: 8€. Patio tours only: 5€. Free for children, handicapped and accompanying persons.
The complete visit lasts about 1 hour, it is done exclusively in Castilian but leaflets in French are available.
FINE ARTS MUSEUM
The museum, dating from 1862, is located in the Hospital de la Caridad built in the 15th century between the banks of the Guadalquivir and the Plaza del Corredera.
The museum presents paintings by Andalusian Baroque painters: d’ Antonio del Castillo, Zurbarán, Valdés Leal, Palomino as well as works by the Cordoba school supplemented by sculptures.
Access: Calle Hospital de le Caridad. Plaza del Potro, 1.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm, Sundays until 3pm. Closed Mondays. Admission: free for EU nationals, 1.50€ for other visitors.
One of the most complete museums in Spain, it covers the period from prehistory to the Middle Ages, with as its main collection pieces from the Iberian, Roman and Visigothic Muslim cultures and from the Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Access: Plaza Jerónimo Páez, 7.
Opening hours: in summer: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. From mid-September: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 8.30pm, Sundays and public holidays until 5pm. Closed Mondays. Free admission for EU citizens, 1.50€ for other visitors.
VISIT CORDOBA FROM SEVILLA
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Cordoue – À partir de 30 €