The majestic beauty of Córdoba

Orange trees with the Bell Tower in the background
Orange trees with the Bell Tower in the background

After spending the first part of Christmas in my hometown, it was time to meet my boyfriend and his crew to explore southern Spain. Our initial destination was beautiful Córdoba!

My Mum accompanied me on this trip from Irún to Majadahonda (a 5h car drive), after which we slept at my boyfriend’s family house. The next day, we hit the road again! After 4 hours, we arrived to Córdoba and met some family friends.
Our stay in the city was very short since we got there around lunch time (ie, late Spanish standard), had some quick snacks, visited the splendid Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba and headed to our final stop: Priego de Córdoba.
But let’s focus on the magnificent Mosque. This is indeed one of the most beautiful and unique buildings in the world, since it houses both a Mosque and  a Cathedral. A world heritage site, the origin of this monument can be found in a small Visigoth church that originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236 during the Reconquista, and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century.
The main features of the fascinating Mosque include the peculiar mihrab (the shell-shaped prayer niche faces south and not Mecca) and the stunning red brick-and- white stone striped archesSince we visited during the Christmas period, there was also a nice exhibition of nativity scenes.
I had actually visited Córdoba when I was a young kid and we used to spend our summer on a RV, but this time I realized how little I remembered. In any case, I love going back to various places for a second opinion!
Upon exiting the Mosque, we found ourselves in a big sunny courtyard called  ‘Patio de los Naranjos‘ (Orange Tree Patio). From this quiet space, you can admire the Bell Tower up close, which houses the old minaret.
On our way in and outside of Córdoba, we saw the Roman bridge and the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to visit those since we were in a rush to arrive to our final destination before dusk and we were a big group.
Finally, an interesting thing to be noted about Córdoba is not only the beauty of its monuments, but also of his patios (courtyards). These typically display colorful flowers in flowerpots. The best period to visit is in May, when the city organizes a festival to choose the most stunning ones.

Trip details:

Foodie tips:
  • On our way from Madrid to Córdoba, we stopped at Hotel La Perdiz (in La Carolina, province of Jaén). This is a great place for a quick snack before hitting the road again.
  • Taberna Puerta Sevilla: this is where we had lunch as soon as we arrived to Córdoba. Since it was a sunny warm day in the city (welcome to Southern Spain, y’all), we ate in the terrace outside but they also had a beautiful restaurant with a patio inside. We asked for the typical food from Córdoba (salmorejo , flamenquines, berenjenas con miel) along with some rabas and God knows what else.
  • Bodegas Campos: originally, we were supposed to have lunch at this more traditional restaurant but given the short time we had upon arrival to Córdoba, we had to skip it. Hopefully next time!

Tips for the Mosque:

  • Plan to buy your tickets in advance!  The information on the various tickets and opening hours can be found here. By the way, we bought the standard ticket to visit the Mosque only but apparently including the Bell Tower and/or the Fernandine churches are great options too.
  • I would suggest you visit as early as possible to avoid the crowds. We entered the monument at 15h30 and there were just too many people.  Getting a shot standing alone in the Mosque was almost mission impossible!
  • Last but not least, Córdoba gets VERY hot in the summer months (July-August), so consider visiting some other time of the year if possible.

Note to myself for the next visit: allow sufficient time to wander around the streets of Córdoba, enjoy some folklore at a tablao flamenco and stop by the Roman bridge, the Alcázar and the nearby archaeological site of Medina Azahara.

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