There are times when you just want to get away from the normal routine. A week-long vacation may be out of the question, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a quick weekend trip to take in some culture. Córdoba is just the sort of place for a great day trip, short weekend or enjoy a full week. Most don’t know it, but in 1000 A.D., Córdoba was the biggest city in Europe! Between 500,000 and 1 million people lived there, and it was the capital of the Moors. At the time, it was a sophisticated city with advanced learning, famous doctors, and a relatively educated population. While its population is now approximately 330,000, it’s lost none of its allure as a fantastic place to visit. So if you are visiting, Seville, Malaga, or Granada, do make the effort to take a day trip to Córdoba. Even better stay over at least one night so you can take advantage of some free sights.
Most of the places described in this post are in Old Town. This area is large, but I’d recommend you park the car on the outskirts of Old Town, and just walk around. Certain areas are very difficult to navigate by car, and parking can be a nuisance. Better to walk, and soak in the vibe of the area. Be aware that you’ll be walking on cobblestone streets, so bring sturdy shoes.
Mezquita / Cordoba Cathedral (8:30 AM)
The absolute Must See place in Córdoba is the Mezquita Cathedral (The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba). In its day, it was the most important mosque of the western Islamic world. The mosque was built on top of a Visigothic church, and started in 785 A.D. The entire compound is big at almost 600 ft. x 425 ft. [179m x 129m]. Approximately one-third of that is the courtyard which contains fountains and dozens of orange trees. It took about two hundred years to finish the mosque, and when it was completed, it was the second biggest mosque in the world. Once the Spanish reconquered Córdoba in 1236, the mosque was “converted” to a cathedral. The stunning double horseshoe arches, and columns are a true indication of the architectural engineering used to build such an impressive building. The contrast between the Muslim outer section, and the Catholic nave, or inner section of the cathedral is astounding. The stained glass windows, and art adorning the walls is amazing to view. The Mezquita is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of Moorish art in all of Spain.
TIP: The Mezquita is free from the hours of 08:30 – 09:20 (except on Sundays/Holidays). After that it’s 8 Euros for adults and 4 Euros for children. It’s a great way to start your day trip, and it’s neat to watch them open the large doors first thing.
After exploring the Mezquita, if you’re needing a bit of some morning nourishment, try any one of the many cafés that surround the cathedral. Then take the time to just meander the pedestrian streets of old town and allow yourself to “get lost”. You never know what you’ll happen upon, perhaps the street of flowers (Calle de las Flores).
Synagogue [Sinagoga] (10:30 AM)
The Jewish Quarter [La Judería] was the area that many Jews moved to after the Temple of Solomon was destroyed in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. At the time, it was the largest Jewish community in Europe. You can walk through the Almodovar Gate, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like the rest of Old Town, it is filled with narrow streets, many different types of shops, and be on the lookout for the frequent ornate patios. On Calle Judios, the only conserved synagogue in Andalusia can be found. The geometric designs in the architecture are very detailed, and a great deal of work has gone into restoring the building and inscriptions on the walls.
Roman Bridge [Puente Romano] (12:00 PM)
As you can imagine, the Roman Bridge was built by the Romans during the reign of Augustus. The bridge crosses the over the Guadalquivir River during the time of Augustus. Along its banks you can see the Albolafia Water Mill. The wheel is no longer operational, but it must have been a great site to see (and hear!) when it was running. On the far side of the bridge, you’ll see the Calahorra Tower [Torre de la Calahorra]. Inside is a museum which collects, preserves, and exhibits artifacts and documents of multicultural Córdoban. The bridge is for pedestrians only, but you’ll see kids in strollers, bicyclists, and joggers crossing at all hours of the day. You’ll experience various artists painting, playing a violin or accordion, and that adds to the atmosphere. For those lovebirds out there, a nighttime stroll across the bridge when it lit up is very romantic. There is a legend that if you kiss your significant other on the bridge when the clock tower bell rings, you’ll have love and happiness in your relationship forever. OK. I made that last part up, but if you have a chance to give your sweetie a snog, why not do it?! Did you hear that rumbling sound? That’s your stomach. It’s tell you it’s time to get some food. You’ve seen a lot so far, and reward yourself with some fantastic food that you’ll find along the river. There’s Sojo Ribera which has good food and excellent views of the Guadalquivir from the top patio. The Regodera is also highly recommended. I didn’t try them, but the desserts there look divine!
Museums (2:00 PM)
If museums are your thing, Córdoba does not disappoint. The Fine Arts Museum [Museo de Bellas Artes] and Julio Romero de Torres Museum are both great places to visit if you like paintings. The religious paintings in the Fine Arts Museum are first-rate, and the portraits by Julio Romero de Torres display the symbolist style for which he is best known. If archeology is your thing, then the Archeological Museum [Museo Arqueológical] is a special treat. Inside you’ll find exquisite mosaics, Iberian sculpture, ceramics, and sculptures that are a special treat.
TIP: The museums normally open at 10:00, but it’s a good idea to check their respective web sites for their hours as they can change throughout the year. If you’re a EU resident, then admission is free (free is always good, right?), and if you’re not an EU resident, the entry fee is a mere 1.5 Euros. A great bargain!
Corredera Square [Plaza de la Corredera] (5:00 PM)
No trip to a Spanish town would be complete without a visit to a local square or plaza. The Corredera Square is massive, and contains some nice restaurants (try the Kebabs!). Besides the people watching, you’ll find the Sánchez Peña Market which carries some pretty interesting food items. The square is a great place to grab a bite to eat, have a glass of wine, and unwind. You’ve seen a bunch of stuff today, and you haven’t even scratched the surface of all that Córdoba has to offer.
While this isn’t in the Old Town, Medina Azahara is a great place to visit. Perhaps on your way out of Córdoba? The remains of Medina Azahara are about 5 miles (8 km) out of Córdoba. This built-from-scratch city was built between 936 and 940 A.D. by the Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III. This city was built as his new capital, and as such, he wanted it to outshine all other Arab capitals as a show of his power and wealth. Plan on taking a few hours at Medina Azahara. There is a lot to see here. While the site was completely destroyed by the numerous Civil Wars around the turn of the 11th century, the immense amount of time and effort into creating such a wonderful city can still be seen even though Madinat al-Zahra is now in ruins.
TIP: Check the website for opening times as they vary throughout the year. There are also daily buses and guided tours to the site, so check availability.
With so much to offer, it’s hard not to fall in love with Córdoba, and it’s one of those cities that you’ll want to visit again and again. Where did we stay? Apartamentos Alberca, Córdoba, with top notch service, location and history. Check Prices Here
Other Family Friendly places to stay in Córdoba
- Hotel Averroes – 2.6 km from Cordoba train station, This low-key hotel is a 10-minute walk from Plaza del Potro and a 14-minute walk from the Roman temple of Córdoba. Featuring free Wi-Fi, the cozy, straightforward rooms have flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, as well as desks and seating areas. The outdoor pool overlooks a courtyard and a fountain.
- Apartamentos Turisticos Duque De Hornachuelos – 8 fully equipped apartments, immersed in a new building with modern content and design, making sure every detail to ensure your comfort. Their new building, contains in their interior a shared patio with archaeological remains of a Roman bath belonging to different historical periods such as the high imperial period, low Imperial and Late Antique tradorromana (1st century AD), highlighting the main pool and different large-scale mosaics and beauty that we move to the historical development of the city.
- NH Cordoba Califa – This straightforward hotel, near the historic Jewish quarter, is a 5-minute walk from Cordoba Synagogue, a 12-minute walk from the ancient fortress Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and 14-minute walk from Torre de la Calahorra tower. The contemporary rooms and suites with marble floors and en suite bathrooms feature free Wi-Fi and satellite TV, plus minibars and work desks.
- Sercotel Hotel Selu – This central Córdoba hotel is just 10 minutes’ walk from both the railway station and the Mezquita. It offers air-conditioned rooms with satellite TV, a safe and minibar. Córdoba’s main shopping area is about 5 minutes’ walk away, while the Conference Centre can be reached in 10 minutes.
- Seneca Hostel – Set in a Moorish-style house on a narrow street in Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter, This relaxed hostel is a 4-minute walk from the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba and a 7-minute walk from the Alcazar Christian Reyes (a 14th-century palace). The straightforward private rooms and beds (with up to 6 beds) feature low-key decor. Some quarters offer private bathrooms and / or balconies.
- NH Collection Amistad Cordoba – Set 750 m from the Museo Arqueologico archaeological museum, this elegant hotel comprising a pair of 18th-century Moorish mansions is also 1 km from the Roman Temple of Córdoba and 3 km from Córdoba train station. The bright, contemporary rooms provide free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and pull-out sofas, as well as minibars and coffeemakers. Upgraded rooms add balconies, and suites come with living rooms.
- Balcon de Cordoba Hotel – This luxe hotel in a 17th-century Andalusian house is a 2-minute walk from Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, and 9-minute walk from Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a 14th-century palace. The 10 refined rooms and suites Have tiled floors and soft, muted tones. They offer free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars. Some rooms add private terraces, and some add separate lounges.
There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you. Click here to see their latest Spain Deals!
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