Ahhhh Cordoba, how fortunate I was to have met you and at the most auspicious timing.
” Note”: I visited Cordoba 6 years ago in the late spring of 2015 ….
Quick Wikipedia History: Córdoba (/ˈkɔːrdəbə/, Spanish: [ˈkoɾðoβa]), also called Cordova (/ˈkɔːrdəvə/) in English, is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was conquered by invading Muslim armies in the eighth century, and then became the capital of the Islamic Emirate and then Caliphate of Córdoba, including most of the Iberian Peninsula.
It has been estimated that in the 10th century Córdoba was the most populous city in the world, and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakam II it had also become a centre for education under its Islamic rulers. Al Hakam II opened many libraries in addition to the many medical schools and universities which existed at this time. During these centuries Córdoba became a predominantly Muslim society with minorities living in a restricted second-class status. It returned to Christian rule in 1236, during the Reconquista. Today it is a moderately sized modern city; its population in 2011 was about 330,000. The historic centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
I visited Cordoba The Summer ( the beginning of Summer) of 2015. I’ve just gotten back from an amazing Journey in Portugal with my friends visiting Lisbon: The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Fado and Sao Miguel: A return to my Azorean Roots
I took a quick flight into Madrid: A return to my favorite City on Earth MAD ( Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport ) on Iberia Airlines. The flight was super fast and easy. I took a quick train down to Atocha Station from the Airport and stored my luggage there for a nice 3 hour layover in Madrid to enjoy some much needed lunch.
When it came time, I boarded my Renfe AVE Train in Preferente class ( Business) with its final destination being Seville. The coach was gorgeous. Beautiful plush Leather seats, airy space, in a 2 -1 configuration. I sat on a single seater . Trains in Spain are exactly on time, and in no time we were off on this smooth 1.5 hour ride. The attendant for our coach soon came by to take our orders for cocktails . I of course had cava ( Spanish sparkling wine) and was given a nice light warm lunch to go with it. The attendant came around a few times offering me a new bottle and the spirit of my coach and the coaches ahead of me was very festive. People were partying. At each stop we all popped out to smoke a very fast cigarette ( I am now smoke free :O ) and the people outside were singing and hugging and dancing. I thought maybe I was traveling with a party group.
I may have had a bit too much cava on this journey, because while I was feeling all warm and fabulous, I looked outside to the stop we were just pulling into, all a buzz, and I notice: ” CORDOBA” OMG!!!!!!!!! I stood up and grabbed my luggage super fast and jumped out of the train that was about to take off again. I almost missed my stop because I was feeling way too good on cava. I guess I wasn’t the only one who almost missed their stop. Al the people who would smoke outside with me and were responsible for all the noise in the train also got out. They were all heading to Cordoba like me. But why?
I took a quick taxi to city center and found the little alcove where my Airbnb Host was expecting me to meet him. He was a kind looking man and at first when looking at the estate , one would think it to me a small hole in the wall local. Never-the-less , what surprised me, was how the demure secret little entrance, opened up into a gorgeous palatial estate of Moorish influence. In typical Andalusian design experienced last in Seville: Al Andalus and the Flamenco Capital of the World , the entrance opened up to a water garden with beautiful flowers and plants flanking its geometric ends. I was in the penthouse of this little oasis, which now upon a better look, were apartments in a townhome sort of way.
I was on the top penthouse of one location, and the nice studio apartment was perfect. lovely little sitting area, plush bed, nice sized kitchen and a drop dead gorgeous HUGE Patio that over looked the City’s famous Mosque and down to the river and carnival flats. I could see so much of the city from here it was fantastic. There was even an out door shower to use after soaking up the Andalusian sun in the summer one could enjoy a nice cold out door shower. Link to the fabulous airbnb :Penthouse Terrace Cordoba Mosque Airbnb
After checking in, and speaking with my host, he informed me that I came in a most auspicious time. It was the week long La Feria de Córdoba.
The Córdoba Spring Fair is better known to locals as ‘La Feria de Nuestra Señora de la Salud’. Taking place at the end of May it is very similar in appearance to Seville’s ‘Feria de Abril‘ but is more visitor friendly as the ‘casetas’ are all open to the public. The venue for the fiesta is the fairground next to the football stadium at El Arenal which is walking distance from the historical centre of town. This is a truly Andalucían event centred on Sevillanas music, flamenco dancing, tapas and the drinking of vast quantities of local Montilla-Moriles wines. ….. taken from Festivals in Cordoba
He told me it was a week long and I will be able to enjoy it the entire time I was here. When looking out into the festival grounds, it looked like it was walkable , but a little note , it is walkable while one is sober. I only had 3 full days here, so I figured I better make the most of it….. and go down to the festival.
The festival was amazing. There were lights everywhere, little houses with music in them ( Casetas) , beautiful costumes and lots of flamenco dancing and some line dancing. I wasn’t sure yet what I was experiencing so I just took it all in, and found out that I could purchase wine at every little caseta, and after a few I headed home. Definitely a place you wanna be with friends.
Tired and a little intoxicated I headed home.
Woke up this morning fresh and excited. Like most airbnbs in Spain, it comes with fabulous Nespresso machines or a press to make coffee. Coffee and a cigarette on the patio was fantastic and I gazed into the city and tried to figure out which way I would head out to today. I was still hungry so I needed to find a bar to grab a bite and more coffee I need fuel.
Like so many medieval European cities, Córdoba is built around its main cathedral. Winding , twisting cobble stone roads make it quite the charmer. Today I am going to visit the Mezquita ( the famous Mosque) so I am trying to find a place to grab a quick bite and a coffee closer to the entrance.
The Mezquita of Cordoba was built in 785 CE when Córdoba was the capital of the Muslim controlled area of Spain called Al-Andalus. Currently it is a Catholic Church. To behold its majesty is something to experience. One cannot help but transport oneself to the time of the Great Mosque’s grand existence. Roll out your meticulously woven Matt and sit still in silence. It really is something. The Checkered arch ways roll throughout the Mosque in synchrony. You just can’t help but feel somewhat a part of its history now that you are standing center.
Tips: Courtesy of Voyagetips.com
- Buy your tickets at the vending machines, to avoid the big waiting lines. They are located right next to the ticket booth.
- If you know the exact date of your trip to Córdoba, you can buy your tickets in advance here. They also include an amazing guided visit of the mosque-cathedral.
- Visit the Mezquita around 12:45 there are a lot less people and you can take beautiful pictures of the arcades without anyone around.
- It is also possible to climb the minaret of the Mezquita for 2€
And last but not least, here is a great tip to save money:
If you plan to visit Cordoba’s 3 main monuments (the Mosque-Cathedral, the Alcazar and the Synagogue) in one day, the best is to book a guided tour of the 3.
La Juderia: Next on my list is the Jewish quarter La Juderia . Another twisting and winding alcove of Jewish history, shops and eateries. It is the heart of the old city and a UNESCO world Heritage sight. The quarter was filled with sightseers , locals, and fantastic shopping. I found this amazing little shop that pressed its own Argon oil, Rose hip oil and sold a plethora of different types of tea to help with all sorts of ailments . Got mother one for Rheumatoid Arthritis. There is a famous little tight walk way that leads to a spectacular view of the Mosque and of my next location , the Alcazar . That is of course, if I can find the strength to pull me away from all the artisanal jewelry shopping …
Next I left the Juderia and headed to:
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos: Alcazar of the Christian Kings
The Alcazar was the residence of the Catholic Kings it was also used as a prison during the terrible Inquisition. I started first climbing on of the towers, to get a commanding view of the grounds. I found that the gardens were the most impressive part of the Alcazar. Truly so beautiful . This was an easy 1.5 hour visit for me, as I sat down and soaked in all the beauty.
I have just two more quick stops before I sit down and devour a proper Andalusian Cordoba Lunch.
The Roman Bridge and Calahorra Tower:
The Roman Bridge: Built in 1 BC, it is the oldest and for 20 centuries, the ONLY bridge into Cordoba that carried her passengers of the Guadalquivir river. It also offers a fantastic view of the Mosque and is quite a strong and beautiful bridge with its gate.
Across the bridge is the :
Calahorra Tower: Located at the end of the Roman Bridge, this defense tower was used during the Muslim era of the city was used as a prison and ironically also as a school. Now there is an awesome little museum with puppet statues educating its spectators with how people dressed and looked in the time and also about the co-existance of Christian, Muslim and Jews.
I walked back on the Roman bridge to make my way into the city center. I will bet visiting and eating within Plaza De Las Tendillas.
Plaza De Las : Lined with bars and cafes, this pretty Art Deco infused looking town square was the perfect reprieve from the now looming afternoon sun. There is a square where children and adults alike run across the jetting water streams to cool themselves off the the warm days. I sat al fresco of course and enjoyed a fantastic and somewhat refreshing Cordoba famous Salmorejo. Like her sister soup dish Gazpacho, Salmorejo is a bit thicker with tomatoes, garlic, bread, olive oil, salt, and sherry vinegar. It is also a dish that Cordoba residents are most proud of and a must try while in Cordoba. I added to it Berenjenas con miel which is another famous dish consisting of Eggplant and honey. I topped it all off with another famous dish : Cogollos al ajillo , fried lettuce hearts. Of course to wash it all down I absolutely needed a lovely half bottle of the casa de vino, house wine, which just so happened to be Tempranillo ..
A bit buzzed , full and tired, I did what any good Spaniard would do at this point, I headed home and took a lovely 3 hours siesta. Fantastic.
I woke up to a warm breeze blowing in through all the open windows and doors. Its warm touch woke me from my pleasant rest and reminded me that tonight is my last night in Cordoba. I took a shower again and got ready for the late afternoon and evening affair ….. at the Fiesta …
It must’ve been around 5 pm by the time I left the house. I was all dolled up, in my travelers wears….I truly wished I wore one of my fabulous dressed. This time when I crossed one of the bridges to the fairs grounds, I noticed all the vendors selling all sorts of things like belts, clothes etc. Found cute stuff but didn’t buy too much. I wanted to enjoy myself not be cumbersome by things. …..
The fair grounds was festive and busy. There were flamenco dressed women everywhere with their flower of choice sitting perky on top of their head like a fabulous flower crown. There were families with children in tow, single looking men half falling over and the sounds from every little casalito seducing one to come and support them and enjoy their wine and music.
I learned later that each of those little houses actually belonged to a civic group, family or organization. It was the perfect time to raise money while enjoying. I also learned that many people end up sleeping there because they party for days on end. Now that’s commitment and sounds like good head pounding fun. I walked into my first house and it was a flamenco style dance with this beautiful lady in a marble cut looking flamenco dress dancing with her partner so effortlessly and so beautifully it was something to behold. I got a drink for I think 3 euros and enjoyed. I moved to another house and it too was playing flamenco style music but this time their drink of choice was vermouth on tap. Every house had some special type of music , theme and even drink and food. Some danced to reggaeton, house music, and even a Zumba inspired group of people dancing to I will survive. It was absolutely fantastic. Full of food , alcohol and love I left the fair grounds around 10 pm. and stumbled my way back to the apartment. How I did this I do not know .
Day 3: Last full day
My host was so sweet to allow me a late check out as my bus to Granada wasn’t leaving until 5 pm. While I was not able to stay in the apartment he allowed me to store my bags there while the cleaning person cleaned . That helped me a lot.
Today I retraced my steps after breakfast and enjoyed the city from a more leisurely point of view. I did make one big stop though and that was to The Roman Temple of Cordoba. Discovered in the 1950’s this important excavation tells a more in-depth story of Cordoba’s past. While only ruins, you can still imagine what this temple, probably built around 50 AD , was decadent and a beautiful temple .
A nice lunch and wine in the Plaza again, I then headed to the apartment to gather my things, say goodbye and thank you to my host and catch a taxi to the bus station.
Cordoba was a wonderful stop along my Iberian journey . It was so full of surprises. I would love to return and spend a nice week or month even , as I would like to be there for the Festival of Patios and for the Fiera .
Initially I was hoping to take a train to Granada but being that something prevented me from doing so ( I can’t remember as that was 6 years ago ) I had to bus it. I think if I’m not mistaken, Granada’s train station was undergoing renovations. A 3 hour bus ride was beautiful and allowed me to see the Andalusian country side in a slower pace ….
Thank you for following me on this memory journey. I visited Cordoba 6 years ago. Why I never blogged about it is beyond me. But being that I am not able to safely visit Spain because of the Pandemic, it was so nice to go back in time and remember my journey and time there.
To learn and experience more of my fabulous Spanish Adventures, please see Spain: A tapas of beautiful people and landscapes