What to see in Córdoba?

By | 19 February, 2024 | 0 comments

Discover the most beautiful places in Cordoba

The origins of Cordoba fade into antiquity. Its proximity to the river and the richness of the countryside made it an ideal location for the earliest prehistoric settlements. However, it wasn’t until the Late Bronze Age (9th and 8th centuries BC) that the first proper settlement was established. With the arrival of Phoenicians and Greeks to the peninsula, the city solidified its position as an important mining and commercial center, thanks to the navigability of the Guadalquivir River. This fact fostered relationships and artistic and commercial dissemination, integrating this locality with the major cities of the time. Wander through its streets, immerse yourself in its history, and discover the most emblematic places of Cordoba.



1. Espacios emblemáticos de Córdoba

Descubre los lugares más emblemáticos de Córdoba y déjate sorprender por su historia, su singularidad y su belleza.


La Mezquita-Catedral

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (World Heritage Site since 1984) is arguably the most significant monument in the entire western Moslem World and one of the most amazing buildings in the world in its own right. The complete evolution of the Omeyan style in Spain can be seen in its different sections, as well as the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of the Christian part.
The site which the Mosque-Cathedral occupies has been used for the worship of different divinities since ancient times. Under the rule of the Visigoths, the Basilica of San Vicente occupied this site, and later, after the Moslems bought part of the plot of land, a primitive Mosque was built.

The basilica was rectangular in shape, and for a while was shared by Christians and Moslems. As the Moslem population increased, the ruler Abderraman I acquired the whole site and demolished the basilica to make way for the first Alhama (main) Mosque in the city.
Some of the original building materials from the Visigothic basilica can still be seen in the first section of the Mosque built by Abderraman I. The great Mosque is made up of two distinct areas, the courtyard or sahn, with its porticos (the only part built by Abd al- Rahman III), where the minaret stands – nowadays, encased in the Renaissance tower – and the prayer hall, or haram. The area inside is made up of a forest of columns with a harmonious colour scheme of red and white arches. The five separate areas of the Mosque correspond to each of the five extensions carried out.

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Medina Azahara

Caliphate City of Medina Azahara – Included in the 2018 Nominations to the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
The history of Medina Azahara, the magnificent, enigmatic city palace which was built for Abd-al Rahman III at the foot of the Sierra Morena Mountains five miles from the city, is shrouded in myths and legends. According to popular belief, Abd al-Rahman III, after proclaiming himself Caliph in 929 A.D., after eight years in power, decide to build the city-palace in honour of his favourite, Azahara. However, recent research strongly suggests that the real reason for the Caliph founding Medina Azahara was to promote the new image of the recently-created independent western Caliphate as a one of the strongest, most powerful kingdoms in Medieval Europe.
The city was built on three terraces, surrounded by a city wall, with the Royal Castle situated on the highest and the middle levels. The lower level was reserved for living quarters and the Mosque, which was built outside the walls. Historical sources mention ten thousand people working daily on building the palace complex, on which no expense was spared by Abd al-Rahman in order to achieve the desired propaganda effect: he would project the image of the new city like the flagship of the powerful kingdom he governed. Rich marbles of violet and red, gold and precious stones, as well as the skilled work of artisans from the best quarries and the now legendary Byzantine contributions, helped to make the palace take on its full glory.

The part of the Castle which was public was where the official visits took place. In the highest part, stood the High Hall, with five naves decorated with arches.
Further down was the Rich Hall: this room was divided into three naves with red and bluish marble arches, with the sides of the building closed, but open in the centre. The Ataurique decoration (carved plant motifs) and the expensive materials used, gave the name to this hall, which also had baths and opened out onto the beautiful High Garden. This garden was divided into four parts, with a summer house in the middle and four ponds. Legend says that the pond in front of the Rich Hall contained mercury and lit up the area with thousands of flashing colours.
A series of steep, narrow streets leads us to the great eastern gate, where important foreign emissaries were received by the Caliph. In front of this gate is a large square where the troops were drilled and the ceremonial staff prepared for the new arrivals.
Outside the city walls stands the Mosque, which is said to have been built in just over one month. The site was completely destroyed by the succession of Civil Wars which ravaged al-Andalus at the turn of the 11th century, and Madinat al-Zahra is now in ruins. The immense effort taken to create this fantasy city was smashed to pieces after only seventy years, too short a life for what was the first Caliph’s «favourite».

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Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

he Alcázar (castle) of Cordoba, with its thick defensive walls, served both as a fortress and a palace, and is a perfect illustration of the development of Cordoban architecture through the ages. Roman and Visigoth ruins lie side by side with Arabic remains in this magnificent building, which was once the favourite residence of the different rulers of the city. However, when Cordoba was taken by Fernando III «the Saint» in 1236, the former Caliphal Palace was in a pitiful, ruinous state.
Alfonso X «the Wise» began the restoration work, which was finished off during the reign of Alfonso XI. It has fulfilled many different functions over the years, such as Headquarters of the Inquisition, or a prison (first half of the 20th century). At first sight, one of the most surprising features of the fortress is its almost rectangular shape with its long walls made of solid blocks of stone (ashlars) and four corner towers (the tower of the Lions, the main keep, the tower of the Inquisition and the tower of the Doves).
Inside, the different halls are distributed around courtyards with an exotic array of flowers, aromatic herbs and mature trees. Both rooms and corridors are covered by stone cupolas in Gothic style. In one of the galleries leading to the halls, there is a RomanDays for visit: Tuesday to Saturday sarcophagus on display, a pagan work dating from the early 3rd Century, on the front of which there is a sculpture in relief depicting the journey of the dead to the underworld through a half-opened door. The most interesting hall is the small Baroque chapel, the Hall of the Mosaics, where a series of Roman mosaics, discovered underneath the Corredera, are displayed around the walls.

Below this hall are the baths, built in Arabic style, which are divided into three rooms with vaulted ceilings containing the familiar star-shaped openings. The boiler which provided water for the baths was situated below the Main Keep. There are two courtyards, but the one in Mudejar style is by far the most attractive. The cool marble floors and the murmur of water, running down the channels and into the ponds, refreshes the hot summer air and soothes the weary visitor’s spirits. The spacious gardens, stretching out to the west, give this Alcázar, or castle, an air of monumental grandeur.

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Puente Romano de Córdoba

The view over the Mosque-Cathedral, with the river, the Gate of the Bridge and the Roman Bridge of Cordoba itself, is one of the most wonderful sights of Cordoba, especially at dusk, when the last rays of the sun linger on and make the stone surfaces glow a deep golden red. The bridge was first built in the 1st century A.D., but has been rebuilt many times since then, and in its present form dates mainly from the Medieval period, with the latest changes being made in 1876. There are sixteen arches, four of which are pointed and the rest semi-circular. Halfway along the railing on one side is a 16th century statue of San Rafael by Bernabé Gómez del Río.

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La Torre de la Calahorra

At the southern end of the Roman Bridge stands the Calahorra Tower of Cordoba, an ancient defensive fortress which is mentioned in a number of Arab sources on “Al-Andalus” (Arab Andalusia), as well as historical records ever since the Christian conquest of Cordoba. Its architecture reflects the successive renovations made to the tower. The horseshoe archway serves as an additional entrance gate, and its rectangular enclosure flanked by towers was rebuilt in the 12th century. In the early 20th century, the tower was declared a historic-artistic monument. After different uses over the years, it currently hosts the Living Museum of al-Andalus, which celebrates the period when the Jewish, Christian and Muslim cultures lived in peaceful coexistence in the city.

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Royal Stables

In 1570, King Philip II, who was a great lover of horses, set out on a scheme to create a pure thoroughbred Spanish horse. For this reason, he ordered the Royal Stables, “Caballerizas reales”, to be built on land belonging to the Castle of the Christian Monarchs. Like the castle, it is predominantly a military building. Here, in this attractive setting, he bred the Spanish horse, also known as the Andalusian horse, which was of Arab origin. The main stable room itself, with its vaulted ceiling supported by sandstone pillars is divided into smaller separate areas, known as boxes.

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Alminar de San Juan

It is by pure luck that this minaret has survived practically intact, in its original 10th century state, since, together with the Mosque it was connected to (which was completely demolished), it was due to be cleared to make way for a church of the Order of San Juan. It is a square tower built of solid stone blocks (ashlars), but its most notable decorative features are the twin horseshoe arches with marble columns. It is owned now, along with the church, by the religious order Esclavas de Jesús.

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La Capilla de San Bartolomé

This chapel, once the parish church of San Bartolomé, now forms part of the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, the former Cardinal Salazar hospital, and is a splendid example of Mudejar architecture. It was built between the 14th and 15th centuries, and in the Baroque period was incorporated into the hospital, and then restored in the 19th century. The main entrance is covered by a portico with three arches. The interior is made up of a single nave with crossed vaulting on the ceiling, and features fine plasterwork and a tiled plinth. There are traces of former murals behind the altar. The last restoration work was carried out in the 1970s, but recently work has started to recover the 19th century side chapel with its Baroque altarpiece.

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Templo romano

Next to the Town Hall of Cordoba stands the only Roman temple in Cordoba for which we have archaeological evidence. The sheer size of the building is remarkable: it was dedicated to the cult of the Emperor, and along with the Circus Maximus, formed part of the Provincial Forum. It originally stood on a raised podium and had six free-standing Corinthian columns in the entrance. In front of this was the ara or altar. The present reconstruction was carried out by the architect Félix Hernández, and has left Cordoba yet another reminder of the splendour of the city in Roman times. Some of the original pieces from the museum are on display in the Archaeological Museum or in unusual but attractive places dotted around the city, like the fluted column lying in Plaza de la Doblas.

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Sinagoga de Córdoba

Unique in Andalusia and the third-best preserved from medieval times in all of Spain, the Synagogue of Córdoba is located in the Jewish Quarter. Constructed between 1314 and 1315, as per the inscriptions found in the building, it served as a temple until the definitive expulsion of the Jewish population.

Upon entering through the courtyard, you reach a small vestibule. To the right, stairs lead to the women’s section. Straight ahead opens the main chamber. With a square floor plan, it is adorned with Mudéjar latticework. The wall supporting the women’s gallery features three arches embellished with beautifully crafted plasterwork. In 1492, Jews were expelled, and the building was repurposed as a hospital. Later, it served as the hermitage of San Crispín and, finally, a nursery school. In the late 19th century, it was declared a National Monument.

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Casa Andalusí

Just a few meters from the Synagogue, you’ll find Casa Andalusí, a 12th-century building that reflects the typical dwelling model of Al-Andalus, influencing the distinctive architecture of Córdoba.
This location provides a perfect setting to comprehend the nature of homes in Al-Andalus and gain insight into the Moorish lifestyle. The house is divided into several rooms, combining Arab decor and details with Andalusian influences, creating a space rich in symbolism.

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2. Museos y Centros Culturales

Baños del Alcázar Califal

In 1903, remains of Arabic baths were unearthed by accident in the area known as Campo de los Santos Mártires, but they were covered over again soon after. However, between 1961 and 1964, a group of Cordoban archaeologists started digging the site again and revealed the sheer size and importance of the find.

These baths were called hammam, and were situated next to what used to be the Omeyan Castle, which it was most likely attached to, and were one the biggest baths of their kind in the city. Ritual washing and personal hygiene played a fundamental part in the lives of Moslems. Washing was carried out before prayer, and was considered an important social ritual. The baths were built during the reign of the Caliph Alhakem II, and are made up of a series of rooms with walls made of solid stone blocks.

The ceilings were vaulted (with their characteristic star-shaped openings), and supported by semi-circular arches with marble pillars and capitals. From the 11th to the 13th centuries, the baths were used by the Almoravid and Almohad rulers. Panels of decorative plasterwork with floral designs and borders with Arabic inscriptions survive from this period, which are now on display in the Archeological Museum.

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C3A – Centro de Creación Contemporánea

The C3A, Centre for Contemporary Creation of Andalusia, was inaugurated in December 2016 with the intention of becoming a centre of reference for artistic creation and production.

It has a full programme of exhibitions, activities, courses, workshops, performances, concerts and artistic production residencies, which have enabled it to become a meeting place for the development of different artistic disciplines.

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Museo Julio Romero de Torres

This museum, housed in the same building as the Fine Arts Museum, in front of the Posada del Potro, was created in 1931, one year after the painter’s Julio Romero de Torres death. The museum takes us on an illustrated tour of his life and works, from his early beginnings to his best-known and most impressive paintings, such as La Chiquita Piconera (the Little Coal Girl), Naranjas y Limones (Oranges and Lemons), Cante Hondo (Flamenco Song), or Poema a Córdoba (Poem to Cordoba). The museum has been rebuilt three times, the last time being in 2012.

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Palacio de Viana

This impressive palace, situated in the plaza de Don Gome, is surrounded by twelve splendid patios and a marvellous garden. A stunning variety of flowering plants decorate and scent every nook and cranny of this splendid museum. The original flavour of this 14th century palace was kept intact by the last Marquis of Viana, Sophia of Lancaster. Inside, the numerous palace rooms house a wide range of collections (paintings, dinner sets, mosaics, tapestries, decorative tiles, firearms, and so on). There is also an outstanding collection of embossed leatherwork and a fascinating 16th-18th century library. The sheer quality of the exhibits makes this one of the most worthwhile visits a visitor to Cordoba can make.

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Museo de Bellas Artes

This museum, situated in the Plaza del Potro, was opened in 1862, by its first director, Rafael Romero Barros, father of the famous Cordoban painter Julio Romero de Torres. The building in Plateresque style it occupies was formerly the Hospital de la Caridad, but it underwent a lengthy series of reforms, until in 1936 it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style which survives to this day. Although there are a number of works by masters of the Italian Renaissance, most of the paintings are either Baroque or 19th century. There are outstanding works by Bartolomé Bermejo, Luis de Morales, Valdés Leal, Ribera, Zurbarán, Murillo, Antonio del Castillo and the Cordoban sculptor Mateo Inurria. The building is well worth a visit in itself, with its charming little courtyard packed with orange trees and a Baroque staircase with a carved wooden ceiling featuring chamfered (rounded-off) corners.

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Museo Arqueológico

Since 1965, the former Renaissance-style palace of the Páez de Castillejo family has housed one of the most impressive archaeological museums in Spain: The Archaeological Museum of Cordoba. Its job is to preserve, research into, and put on display the archaeological remains found in Cordoba and the province, from prehistoric times up to the period of Arabic rule known as Al-Andalus.

A wide range of exhibits from different periods and architectural styles are displayed in the eight rooms and three courtyards, in which history seems to reach out to us, and take us back, room by room, courtyard by courtyard, to the Cordoba of yesteryear. In addition, in January 2011, a new building adjacent to the existing one was opened. This expansion, in a contemporary architectural design, perfectly complements the Renaissance Palace of Jerónimo Páez.

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Posada del Potro – Centro Flamenco Fosforito

This fascinating building, situated in the square which is also named el Potro (the colt) gives us a remarkable insight into popular 14th and 15th century housing. They were known in popular jargon as corrales (yards), and were arranged around a communal courtyard with a well in the middle. It was one of Cervantes’ favourite haunts both in his works and in real life as well as staying here, some scenes in his works are set here too. The Posada del Potro (Inn of el Potro) – “Fosforito” Flamenco Centre has recently become a new venue for the performance, production, research and dissemination of Flamenco.
The Centre revolves around two main areas:

  • A venue, the Posada del Potro, a 14th century neighbour’s courtyard which was used as inn right up until 1972, with its long history and cultural relevance.
  • A Flamenco singer from Cordoba, Antonio Fernández, known as “Fosforito”, one of the most universally important Flamenco artists.

The Posada del Potro “Fosforito” Flamenco Centre is the only centre in Andalusia dedicated to these characteristics of Flamenco, being both a venue for performances as well as a museum for promotion and exhibitions. A journey through time takes us from the birth and evolution of Flamenco up to the present day, through the different elements which make up the cultural uniqueness of Flamenco. The aim of the Interpretation Centre is for visitors to leave the building with more knowledge about Flamenco and above all with curiosity and interest to learn more. The museum hall covers topics like the origins of Flamenco styles, genres, styles, instruments, artists, costumes and links with other cultural aspects.

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3. Otros lugares de interés

Calleja de las Flores

In the Heart of the Jewish Quarter, not far from the Mosque-Cathedral, we find this charming little street, which everyone who visits Cordoba comes to see. The narrow alleyway leads up a gentle slope to open out onto a small square. Flowers fill the balconies, with their wrought-iron window grilles, filling the air with pleasant scent, to the delight of visitors. A fountain graces one side of the square, and there is a fine view of the bell-tower of the Cathedral.


Parque del Pañuelo

The Alley of the Handkerchief, just next to the Mosque-Cathedral, is a must for every visitor to Cordoba. The alleyway starts off from the square Plaza de la Concha and is in Moorish style: its most remarkable feature is that at its narrowest point it is no wider than a lady’s handkerchief. Right at the end is a tiny square – considered by some as the smallest in the world – containing a small fountain and an aromatic orange tree. The gentle trickle of water and the scent of orange blossom charm the visitor in the intimacy of this diminutive square.

Calle Cabezas

From the Portillo Arch, this narrow street leads past the fortress-tower of the House of the Marquises of El Carpio. The street got its name, according to the tradition, because it was home to Gustios González, father of the seven princes of Lara. According to this grim legend, it was here where, while he was holding a banquet, the seven heads of his sons were brought before him. Legends apart, the street is in the heart of the Jewish Quarter and its buildings date from the 13th to the 16th centuries.

Plaza de la Corredera

Archaeological excavations have unearthed a series of wonderful mosaics from the Roman period, which are now on show in the Castle of the Christian Monarchs. The present-day square is rectangular with arched porticos running around the ground floor, designed in the style of the old city squares of Castille, of which it is the only one of its kind in Andalusia. It was used in olden days as a bullring, and to this day there is a street named Toril (Bulls’ enclosure). The square has seen everything, from autos de fe and public addresses to public executions during the French Invasion, and now contains a number of cafes and bars, as well as hosting a Medieval Market in the month of January.

Plaza de las Tendillas

This square is now considered as the city’s main square, and has existed in its present form since the 1920s. Subsequently remodelled on various occasions, it has now become one of the favourite meeting places for Cordoban people and visitors. Right in the middle of the square, surrounded by the main fountain, stands the equestrian statue of the Gran Capitán by the sculptor Mateo Inurria.

Casa de los Luna

The House of the Luna family is one of the best examples of an Andalusian aristocratic mansion in Plateresque style. The most striking feature is the stone façade, which probably dates from the late 16th century. It was later enlarged by the addition of an extra floor, with double loggia-style windows. The main entrance gate, framed by mouldings and pilasters on the door posts, features original terminations in the form of stone balls on the ends and relief work depicting garlands on the lintel, with the coat of arms of the Luna family above. There is a double right-angled balcony on one corner, spanning over two floors with a central column and framed with decorative stone mouldings. The building stands in a charming setting in the plaza de San Andres.

Casa de Sefarad

The House of Sepharad – House of Memories, is a cultural centre situated right in the heart of the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba. There are permanent exhibitions and cultural activities aimed at arousing interest in this forgotten heritage and recovering memories of a tradition which is an essential part of our cultural identity: the Sepharad, or Hispano-Jewish tradition. The permanent exhibition, Memories of the Sepharad, is divided into five thematic rooms, displaying: Domestic life, Women in Al-Andalus, the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba, Festive traditions and Sephardic music.

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Cordoba awaits you! Discover a historic city with an immense artistic and cultural heritage. Sample the local cuisine at Restaurant Arbequina while contemplating the remains of an ancient Roman house beneath your feet, and recharge with treatments at Spa Bodyna, or descend underground and immerse yourself in the warm waters of the Roman baths, feeling your worries disappear one by one. We look forward to welcoming you!

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