There are certain places in the world which seem to exert a special power, as they have repeatedly been chosen by successive civilizations as their nucleus; and Spain has more than its fair share of those cities, which, through their successive cultures have become cultural powerhouses; Cordoba is one of its most remarkable examples.
Cordoba is a cultural and historical wonder. Whether strolling through its narrow streets and alleys lined with immaculately whitewashed houses ablaze with the colour of the blooms from the pot plants adorning its balconies, windows, and walls; or, awestruck and humbled while visiting its legacy of cultural monuments, visiting Cordoba is like entering through a time tunnel taking us back through successive civilizations to times immemorial, and over a bridge spanning from East to West uniting Islamic, Jewish and Western culture and creed.
To most of us, Cordoba’s past means its Islamic heritage commencing in the 8th century AD, but the history of Cordoba goes back to a past lost in the annals of time. Through the ages, it has been chosen successively by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians becoming an important mining centre in the Bronze Age. It was named Corduba many centuries later by the Romans who chose it as the capital of their province Hispania Ulterior, which covered much of present day Andalusia.
With the Middle Ages, came the Islamic conquest, which saw Cordoba become the capital of the independent Emirate of Damascus, flourishing to become the cultural beacon of the Western world. Few beacons have ever shone as bright, enlightening the world in the fields of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, arts. By the 11th century, it was not only the most populous city in the world but also the cultural centre of Europe and one of the most advanced cities globally, being also the political, financial and economic centre. This World Heritage city was also the cradle of eminent doctors, philosophers, mystics and poets, and could boast having the largest library in the world.
The Hospes Palacio del Bailio is a 5 star luxury boutique hotel with 53 rooms and an outdoor swimming pool set in pretty gardens surrounded by orange trees, situated in a 16th-Century palace in the centre of the old city of Córdoba.
The Art Deco Ayre Hotel is a 4 star contemporary hotel with 156 rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts, located in a quiet residential area of the city.
The AC Córdoba Palacio is a 4 star contemporary design hotel with 162 rooms and a rooftop swimming pool located on Paseo de la Victoria, just a 5 minute walk from the old city centre.
Córdoba Mosque (Mezquita) & Cathedral
You will need at least two hours to become acquainted with what is, without a doubt the undisputed jewel in the city’s crown. The Mosque at Cordoba was the most important and impressive monument in Western Islam, as well as one of the world’s most fascinating monuments. It was built over a Visigoth Christian church and its construction began in 780 AD.
In the 16th century, after the Christian reconquest of Spain, a Christian Cathedral of plateresque style was built as an insertion inside the massive mosque. As you walk in from the sunlight and heat of the exterior to the cool and dim interior through a courtyard planted with orange trees and presided by a tower which has alternated from minaret to Christian bell tower, you’ll be impressed at the sheer vastness of the expanse of the red tiled floor.
The mosque has 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite, the striped red and white effect of the arches is achieved by alternating brick and stone. Towards the centre of the mosque, you’ll find a hallway lined with very large pillars. Beyond those pillars, you will walk from the dimness of the mosque into a brilliant white and golden light, and as you walk into that light you will find yourself transported into a magnificent cathedral with every surface intricately engraved in the rich plateresque style. The effect of the contrasts between both styles of worship is fascinating.
Córdoba’s Jewish Quarter & Synagogue
Just a five minute walk north of the mosque, you will find the Jewish quarter, where its a pleasure to stroll through its medieval narrow streets and lanes lined with whitewashed houses which provide one of the most iconic and picturesque images of the city. The Jewish community in Cordoba thrived under the religious tolerance, turning Cordoba into the most important centre of Jewish learning and culture in the world. Cordoba’s Jewish quarter is also home to the only synagogue in Andalusia which is one of the only three synagogues in Spain. The splendid synagogue is carved with Moorish Andalusian style decorations and Hebrew texts.
Rome is often called “The Eternal City”; Cordoba goes a bit further, because it’s as universal as it is eternal. Cordoba is a trip in both time and space. As you stroll through its narrow, blindingly white streets, adorned with colourful blooms; as you gape in awe at its monuments, legacy of a glorious past bridging culture and creed; as you sample a cuisine as rich and varied as its heritage; as you sip a glass of Moriles in a fragrant shaded terrace watching the world stroll past; as you visit its flower filled patios or enjoy its fiestas and festivals, you’ll fall in love with the soul of Cordoba. For, indeed, Cordoba has a soul, and soul, like a good Moriles improves with age. Cordoba is as deep and as discreet as it is old and wise.
Córdoba enjoys a Mediterranean climate; it is very warm and dry in summer, as this sunny inland city is amongst the warmest in Spain. During the summer months which are from June through to September, temperatures can rise above 35ºC. Winters are mild without extremes of temperature with daily highs averaging 18ºC and nightly lows averaging 10ºC. Most of the rain falls between the months of November to March. Possibly the best months to visit Cordoba are the Spring months of April, May and June, because you will most likely enjoy mild sunny weather as well as an impressive display of a city ablaze in blooms of every colour and delicate fragrance.