Córdoba (Spain)

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Travel Guide Europe Spain Andalusia Córdoba

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Introduction

Cordoba Street

Cordoba Street

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The city of Córdoba has had a long and important history on the Iberian peninsula. The town is located in the Guadalquivir river valley, which made for easy access to the natural resources in the nearby Morena Mountains. The city was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Ulterior Baetica, which was the southwest corner of modern Spain. The city remained very important during the Byzantine Empire and during the Visigoth occupation.

Córdoba became the capital again during the 10th century when the Moors set up an independent Caliphate in Spain. The city had between 250,000 people and 500,000, which is larger then today. The city went by the Arabic name of Qurţuba(قرطبة) at that time, and was one of the most important and the biggest western European city at that time. During the 10th century the city built many amazing sights and flourished. Everything changed in 1236 when the city was retaken by the Catholic ruler Fernando III during the reconquista. After that the city got in decline, until the late 19th century and the arrival of many industries, and later tourism. The reason why people visit Córdoba today is because of the many wonderful medieval sights in the city to explore.

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Neighbourhoods

The city is mainly divided between the north part of town and the southern part of town.

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Sights and Activities

Mezquita

Cordoba_La Mezquita_31

Cordoba_La Mezquita_31

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M-Sa 08:30-19:00, Su 08:30-10:30 and 14:00-19:00 (last entry 30 minutes before closing). €10 (free entry during 8:30-9:30 morning mass).

The biggest attraction in Córdoba and a truly must-see building, the Mezquita is a massive former mosque-turned-cathedral famed for its "forest" of columns topped with Islamic-style red and white striped arches among its other many architectural highlights and serves as a reminder of the glory and importance Córdoba held in medieval times. The building is full of history and beauty - you'll want to give yourself at least a couple of hours to do it justice.

Built in 786 as a mosque, the structure was expanded several times under Córdoba's Muslim rule while still remaining largely true to the original design. Following the Christian Reconquista of Córdoba in 1236, work immediately went underway to convert the building to a church, and four centuries later a cathedral at the center of the building was constructed, though not without controversy as it significantly altered the space. Today, despite the presence of the cathedral, most of the original mosque structure remains remarkably well-preserved.

Approaching the Mezquita, the first thing you will notice is the massive bell tower on the building's north side which looms over the surrounding buildings. Built in the 1600s the tower replaced a minaret previously on the site. Along the outside of the building the wall takes on the appearance of a fortress, with an elaborate set of Moorish-style archway and windows spaced every so often.

Stepping through one of the doors you'll enter the Patio de los Naranjos, or Court of the Orange Trees, which true to its name contains a grove of orange trees, planted in symmetrical rows that replicate the forest of columns within the building. A large fountain drips pleasantly in the middle, and the views of the bell tower framed by trees are excellent. The Patio is free to enter and is open during the day as a public park - the ticket booths are located on the bell tower side of the courtyard.

Entering the interior you'll immediately be standing before the forest of columns which recede into the distance, topped with their dazzling horseshoe arches. The light in the space will play interesting tricks with the arches and varies pretty dramatically as you walk through the building, going from rather dark when you enter to very bright at the cathedral in the middle and back and forth as you continue.

Opposite the room from the entrance is the Mihrab, a spectacular archway decorated with Arabic writing which was the focus of the mosque, as it faced in the direction of Mecca and was what every Muslim faced as they knelt on the floor to pray . Once, tens of thousands of people could fit into this space to pray, the multitude knelt on their rugs before the Mihrab. In the corner of the building nearby are glass cases with artifacts excavated from beneath the Mezquita, and the walls along the side of the building are lined with chapels, each one with an intricate piece of artwork.

At the center of the building, the Cathedral towers over the rest of the building, and the transition from the impressive-but-intimate mosque structure to the overwhelming awe of the cathedral is abrupt and rather jarring, but don't let that stop you from taking in the beauty of the cathedral, with its rich decoration and well-illuminated interior, standing to suggest triumph over the Muslims who previously used this building. The presence of the cathedral also offers the unique opportunity to so easily compare the differences between Muslim and Christian architecture.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Historic Centre of Córdoba - Visit the stunning old town of this amazing city that is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Synagogue is a nice 14th century synagogue.
  • Walcha Cave was built in 1489.
  • Palace of Viana is an amazing 16th century palace.
  • Medina Az-Zahra, Cordoba

    Medina Az-Zahra, Cordoba

    © All Rights Reserved Mancunion

    Medina Az-Zahra is a ruined city 5 km outside of Córdoba, of which only 10% has been excavated. The city was built from scratch and was only occupied for 80 years during the late 10th century. The city was destroyed in 1010 and became myth until rediscovered in 1911.
  • The Tower of Calahorra is a 14th century tower.
  • The Door of the Bridge was built in the 16th century.
  • The Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) - A Roman-style bridge over the shallow Guadalquivir River that was once the main crossing over the river, securing Córdoba's importance to the region. The entrance to the bridge is marked by a triumphal arch and an adjacent single-column monument and it crosses to an old fortified gate (now a museum, described below) on the other side.
  • The Molino de la Albolafia is a restored water wheel dating back to the 8th century. It stands on the bank of Guadalquivir river, near the Roman bridge.
  • The Plaza Vieja
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Plaza del Potro - A small old square where Don Quijote de la Macha stayed in one of his adventures. You can find there a nice fountain with a small horse and a 'Triunfo de San Rafael'. Julio Romero de Torres local painter Museum and Fine Arts Museum are also located in this place.
  • Plaza de la Corredera - The only 'Plaza Mayor cerrada' (closed main square) in Andalucía.
  • Museum of Al-Andalus Life (Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus), C/ Puente Romano (at the opposite end of the Roman Bridge), ☏ +34 957 293 929. October-April 10:00-18:00, May-September, 10:00-14:00 and 16:30-20:30. A history museum located in the Torre de la Calahorra, which once served as the old fortified gate to the city. Upon entering the museum the greeters (who speak good English) have you don a headset which will explain the exhibits and artifacts on Muslim Andalusia you will view as you walk from room to room. The narrators take a very philosophical take on the whole thing and their descriptions of Islam may come off as rather flowery, but the artifacts are worth a look and the balcony on the top of the tower offers an excellent view of the river and the city. €4.50, €3 children.
  • Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, C/ Caballerizas Reales. Tu-F 08:30-19:30, Sa 09:30-16:30, Su 09:30-14:30. Built in the 8th century as a caliphate residence on the site of a Visigoth fortress, the Alcazar was used as the residence and fortress of Ferdinand and Isabella (the "Christian Monarchs" for whom the building is now named) as well as a headquarters for the Spanish Inquisition. The fortress, with its artifacts (including a series of Roman mosaics and a Roman sarcophagus) and two towers is now open for touring, but the main attraction here is the lush and beautiful gardens on the site. €4.5, students €2.25.

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Weather

The summers are extremely dry with daily thermal oscillations. Some of these oscillations can reach up to 40 °C and the average daily maximum temperature is around 27 °C, which is the highest in Spain and Europe. Most of the rain occurs during the winter months of December through February with annual rainfall around 500 mm. Winters are mostly between 10 and 15 °C during the day, though nights can get chilly and frost is not unheard of.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max14.7 °C16.9 °C20.5 °C22.1 °C26.2 °C31.6 °C36.2 °C35.9 °C31.7 °C25 °C18.9 °C15.3 °C
Avg Min3.7 °C4.9 °C6.4 °C8.6 °C11.8 °C15.5 °C18.1 °C18.5 °C16.2 °C12.1 °C7.6 °C5.2 °C
Rainfall64 mm53 mm40 mm61 mm34 mm17 mm3 mm3 mm24 mm62 mm85 mm89 mm
Rain Days98710631137810

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Getting There

By Plane

Córdoba Airport (ODB) is a small airport that only used to serve a few flights within Spain and to Casablanca. The airport is located about 6 km west of the city centre.
Fly Sur was the only operator, but flights have been temporarily suspended.

By Train

The train station which was rebuilt in 1992 is a major stop along the high speed AVE Madrid - Seville line as well as many other regional and national train lines. Check RENFE for more information about schedules and prices.

By Car

Córdoba lies along the A-4 motorway, between Madrid and Sevilla. From Málaga you can reach Córdoba via de A-45. From Extremadura (Badajoz), you can take the national route N-432.

By Bus

The bus station is located across the street from the train station. Check Movelia for routes and more.

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Getting Around

Just about everything of interest in Córdoba is within easy walking distance (the one notable exception being the Medina Azahara), and the typical tourist can do with the standard tourist map which can be obtained from the tourist offices (one on the east side of the Mezquita, another between the Alcázar and the city walls, and yet another in the train station, to name a few).

The area with by far the most to see is the Old City surrounding the Mezquita. The Old City is a tangle of medieval-style streets roughly bounded by the Guadalquivir River on the south, the area surrounding Plaza de las Tendillas on the north and the tree-lined Paseo de la Victoria on the west. This area is crammed with places to stay, eat and buy souvenirs, though many visitors may find certain areas (particularly immediately surrounding the Mezquita) too touristy, with more interesting things found wandering into the tiny streets of the Jewish Quarter to the west and north of the Mezquita. Behind the Mezquita the Roman Bridge crosses the Guadalquivir River to a museum in the old gate on the opposite side.

The area immediately to the north of the Old City, roughly from the area around Plaza de las Tendillas to Avenida de America is a more modern section of town and is where the train and bus station is located as well as a major shopping area. Along Paseo de la Victoria on the west side and Avenida de America on the north are large parks that make for a pleasant stroll.

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Eat

Restaurante Casa Rubio, Calle Puerta de Almodóvar, 5, ☏ +34 957 420 853, ✉ comercial@cabezasromero.es. M-Th 13:00-16:30 19:30-23:30, F Sa 13:00-24:00, Su 13:00-23:30. In the heart of the Juderia, this place offers decent tapas for the price. A bit more expensive version of it is next to the mosque, called Casa Pepe de la Juderia, which serves the same food at a slight markup for location. Excellent bravas. Worth checking out. (updated May 2016 | edit)
Taberna Góngora, Calle del Conde de Torres Cabrera, 4, ☏ +34 957 49 03 62. Daily 12:30-16:00, 19:00-23:30. Popular with locals and well known for their cured meats (carne de monte).
La Abadia, Avenida. del Aeropuerto, 4. 09:00 - 00:00. One of the few places in Cordoba that serves free tapas. It is located along a 'tapas' boulevard popular with the locals for food. Crowded on football game days. Tapas range from 1.70 - 3€.
Delorean, Calle Alfonso XIII, 2. 08:30-16:00; 20:00-00:30 (Kitchen opens at 12:30). Near the Templo Romano, this place serves free tapas with every drink, with every additional tapa at €1. Their house specialties include Piruleta de Barbacoa (Barbecued meat on a lollipop) and Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style cooked octopus). €2-3.50.
El Caballo Rojo, Calle del Cardenal Herrero, 28 (near the Mezquita), ☏ +34 957 475 375, fax: +34 957 490 318. Locals claim it has the best rabo de toro in town. Daily 09:00-24:00.
Bodegas Campos, Calle Lineros, 32, ☏ +34 957 497 500. Daily 13:00-16:00, 20:30-23:00; closed 24 Dec, 31 Dec. Classic Córdoba place to eat. Historic building and famous for people who have visited. Food is fantastic, very recommended!
Casa Mazal, Calle Tomás Conde, 3 (between the mosque-cathedral and the synagogue), ☏ +34 957 94 18 88, ✉ info@casamazal.com. Daily 12:00-16:00, 20:00-23:30. This restaurant offers customers a chance to sample traditional Sephardic Jewish cuisine. Although the meat is not kosher certified, none of the dishes mix meat and dairy. The restaurant is run by a Sephardic family. The food is, truly, divine.
Restaurante Castillo de la Albaida, Carretera De Trassierra, km 3, ☏ +34 957 27 92 69. A refurbished castle in the foothills of the Córdoba Sierra, 10 minutes from city center by car. Very good Cordoban food with splendid city sights.
Restaurante El Churrasco, Calle del Romero, 16 (very close to the Mezquita), ☏ +34 957 290 819, toll-free: +34 957 421 661, ✉ elchurrasco@elchurrasco.com. Daily 13:00-16:00, 20:30-24:00. With amazing meat dishes.
Restaurante Amore Bonapasta, Calle Reyes Católicos, 17, ☏ +34 957 48 4848. Su-W 13:30-16:00, Th-Sa 13:30-16:00 21:00-00:00,. Fantastic pizza and pasta. Try the pasta carbonara, very nice.
Taberna La Fragua, Calleja del Arco, 2 (off C/Tomás Conde), ☏ +34 957 48 45 72, ✉ restaurantelafragua@hotmail.es. Delicious home made food and traditional cooking with a modern and personal style. Enjoyable meals in an authentic 16th-century charming courtyard accompanied by flamenco ambient music. It is also possible to try tapas and drinks for a very reasonable price. Relaxed atmosphere.
Taberna La Lechuga, Calle Tomás Conde, 12. Córdoba traditional style food. Try their brand name tasty specialty, seasoned "lettuce sprouts", served with garlic. They serve a wide range of traditional dishes. Don't forget their croquetas, but to be sure about their daily recommendations just try and ask their friendly staff.
Taberna San Miguel (Casa El Pisto), Plaza de San Miguel, 1 (behind Iglesia de San Miguel), ☏ +34 957 47 01 66. M-Sa 12:00-16:00, 20:00-24:00. Established in 1880, this very popular place should not be missed. Serves great Montilla, as well as rabo de toro and pisto.

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Drink

Plaza de la Corredera. A lot of bars in this beautiful place, nice environment and nice people.
Vial Norte (Paseo de Córdoba). A lot of modern bars in the newest part of the city. Cute people and fancy pubs.
El Brillante, el Tablero Avenida del Brillante. For summertime, fancy bars, fancy people in those rich neighborhoods. From June to September.
Polígono industrial de Chinales (Chinales, industrial park). Very close to the city center (5-10 min by car, €4 by taxi).
Ciudad Jardín neighborhood Alderetes street, Julio Pellicer street. A lot of small but very fun places to dance, drink. From October to May.

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Sleep

Hostal Lineros 38 A very nice place with beautiful Andalusí (Islamic from southern Spain) architecture.
The Terrace Backpackers (aka Pension Pilar del Potro / Funky Córdoba), Calle Lucano, 12, ☏ +34 957 492 966. Good location. Clean privates and dorms. Air-conditioning. Strangely has three separate names.
Séneca Hostel, C/ Conde y Luque, 7, ☏ +34 957 491 544, ✉ eservas@senecahostel.com. Kitchen, wi-fi.
Backpacker Al-Karte, C/ Martínez Rucker, 14 (near the Mezquita-Catedral), ☏ +34 626 389 706, ✉ alkatre@alkatre.com. Built in a traditional Andalusian house, with an open courtyard as the centre of the hostel. It has private rooms for parties as large as six to six-bed dorm rooms. Pleasant environment and friendly owner who will go all out of the way to give advice on what to see in Córdoba.
Hotel Maciá Alfaros. Great hotel with old town central location. Walking distance to central plaza, shopping, archeology sites, drinks.
Hotel Los Abetos Cordoba, Av. de San José de Calasanz, 2 14012 Córdoba Córdoba, ☏ +34 957 767 063.
Hotel AC Córdoba Excellent hotel in a modern environment set a block from the bus and train stations, very close to the city center.
Hotel Córdoba Center The newest hotel in the city, 5 minutes walking distance from Train/Bus station and city center.
Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailío, the only 5-star hotel in town. Centrally located. Incredible old city palace from the 16th century. Respecting both Roman and Moorish architectural influences. 53 rooms, restaurant and spa. The new essence of Hospes Palacio del Bailío tells an old story, its architecture speaks of history in the old quarter of the city, next to the Cristo de ls Faroles square and 10 minutes from the Mosque.
Hotel Mezquita, Plaza Santa Catalina, 1 (on the eastern side of the Mezquita), ☏ +34 957 47 55 85, fax: +34 957 47 62 19, ✉ recepcion@hotelmezquita.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Next to the Mezquita, this is good value with friendly service. Free wi-fi, luggage storage available. From €40/singles, €50/doubles; includes breakfast.
Hotel NH Amistad, Plaza de Maimónides, 3, ☏ +34 95 7420335, fax: +34 95 7420365, ✉ nhamistadcordoba@nh-hotels.com. In the heart of the old town, 5 minutes walking from the Mezquita. Settled in the old city walls, inside a beautiful palace. There is another NH hotel right next door - the NH Califa.
Hotel casas de la Judería, Calle Tomás Conde, 10, ☏ +34 957 202 095, ✉ nhamistadcordoba@nh-hotels.com. Renovated historic 4-star hotel near the Mezquita Cathedral.
Hotel Boutique Caireles, Calle Cardenal Herrero, 12 (right across from The Mosque), ☏ +34 957 49 65 61, ✉ reservas@hotelcaireles.com. In the Jewish Quarter.

View our map of accommodation in Cordoba or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is widely available within Spain. Most airports have wifi-zones and in most towns there are internet cafés or shops where you can use internet for a fixed price. Wi-Fi points in bars and cafeterias are available after ordering, and most hotels offer Wi-Fi connection in common areas for their guests.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international access code for Spain is +34. The emergency number for police, ambulance and the fire brigade is 112.

In cities you can find plenty of public phones, and 'locutorios'. The latter are small shops where you can use the phone and use internet. Most of them also sell prepaid cards for mobile telephones. These shops are used a lot by foreigners to call to their mother country.

The main mobile network operators in Spain are Yoigo, Vodafone, Movistar and Orange, as in most of Europe voice and data coverage is generally good in urban areas however it can be patchy in rural locations. Cheap mobile phones (less than €50) with some pre-paid minutes are sold at FNAC or any phone operator's shop (Vodafone, Movistar, Orange). Topping-up is then done by buying scratch cards from the small stores, supermarkets, vending points (often found in tobacco shops) or kiosks.

Post

If you want to post a card, you can head to the post office (Correos). The Spanish post is not yet as efficient as colleagues in other countries so receiving a card can take a bit longer than the number of days that it should take. On the website of Correos, you can find the locations of nearby post offices.
Post offices are generally open from 8:30am to 2:00pm, although times will vary according to the size of the city/town and the main post offices might be open until the early evening. Most will also open again on Saturday mornings, but in the smaller towns will close as early as 12 noon. When posting a letter, look for a yellow box and, if possible, post at the post office itself where there will also be divisions for local, national and international mail. Be prepared for long queues at the post office. This is why tobacco shops sell stamps and many will also have the facility to weigh packages. Standard letters/postcards of up to 20 grams sent within Spain are €0.34. However, non-standard letters/postcards of up to 20g are €0.39. Letters/postcards of 20 to 50 grams are €0.45. In the case of international shipping, the price is €0.64 to most countries within Europe for standard envelopes (letters/postcards) up to 20g, for a few European countries and outside Europe it is €0.78. If you want to send a package you are probably better off with a private courier company like TNT, DHL or UPS, as they offer quick and reliable services against competitive prices.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 37.884727
  • Longitude: -4.779152

Accommodation in Córdoba (Spain)

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This is version 26. Last edited at 12:06 on Sep 9, 19 by Utrecht. 12 articles link to this page.

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