In the 10th century there was a congress held in Fez over several weeks in order to appoint a place for the expansion of human inspiration: Greece, Persia, the kingdom of Damascus, Samaria, Provence, lower Egypt, and even Paris were among the favorites. Al-Andalus was the final winner. And Córdoba, the capital, was her prized jewel.
In those years, Córdoba was comprised of Arabes, Christians, and Jews. As one of the largest capitals of the world, it was considered a cultural center with a top-notch university and a library with over 400,000 books.
Greek and Phoenician influences from the Guadalquivir river, Capital of the “Hispania ulterior” with the Romans, Capital of Al-Andalus, of the independent emirate of Damascus, and the Omeya western Caliphate… Walk where you will in Cordoba, it is full of history.
Everyone says that one day is enough to see the city, even just a morning or afternoon. But when in Cordoba, you have to breath in the city, you have to smell her, and you have to taste her. If you aren’t obligated to your schedule, you will unquestionably choose to stay an extra day.
The must-see sites: of course the mosque-cathedral, which offers free-entry visits before 9am. The Jewish quarter, which is the most touristic area but also the most beautiful and best preserved, and the Roman bridge and temple. El Alcazar, is where Cristopher Colombus and the Spanish queen and king had their first meeting. Here, they rejected his proposal of his expedition to the Indies. The Plaza del Potro, which is mentioned in El Quijote by Cervantes, and finally the fernadine churches. Many of these are converted mosques that were constructed during the reconquest in 1236, after the arrival of Ferdinand III, also know as “The Saint”.
To connect all these points you have no choice but to wonder through the small narrow streets. And what better way to explore, because the soul of Córdoba is found in her streets. Loose yourself among the white houses that alternate between the brilliant blue and marked mustard colored structures, and amid the orange trees and fountains. Poke around the patios. And finally, when the afternoon heat begins to smother you, take a siesta.
Leave your Google maps in the hotel and ask a Cordoban, (perhaps a woman, because they are famous for being the most beautiful women in Spain) who are always open to chat and share the joy of their culture and traditions.
Have a tapa in the Plaza Corredera, which is sure to be a lively place both day and night, partly for the history it has left behind of being an open air market, bull arena, and site of execution during the Inquisition. It is a perfect place to try the local gastronomy: Flamenquín, bull tail, caliphate eggplant, and Cordoban salmorejo. All should be properly drizzled with premium olive oil because the province of Córdoba has the second highest production of olive trees in Spain (with the permission of Jaén province). The Victory Market, offering traditional dishes fusioned with international cuisine, is also a good option to fill your tummy.
Sometimes in Córdoba it is difficult to find an open cafe or coffee shop before 8 o’clock in the morning. However, you may be overwhelmed with places to eat and drink open until the early hours of the morning. The Fuenseca Tavern, which we stumbled upon by chance as with most of the best things encountered while traveling, will allow you to have a taste of local flamenco culture as you listen in to improvised music and singing while sipping an excellent glass of wine. Legend has it that, after the Reconquest, the first mass was held in the same building. Another unique option is the Jazz Cafe where you enjoy jazz, bossa nova, or funk jam sessions in a relaxing and enjoyable environment.
For half day excursions: Medina Azahara, the mid evil castle of Almodovar, or finally Montilla for the wine route lovers.
It’s difficult to explain or describe Cordoba. You have to feel it…