Did you know that at one time Córdoba was the most populated city in the world? That was just one of the facts that blew my mind when I visited this spectacular and historic city. Located along the Guadalquivir River in Spain’s southernmost region of Andalucía, Córdoba is the perfect place to spend your spring or summer holidays. Control of this strategic city passed through many hands over the millennia—from the Carthaginians to the Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and finally, the Catholics. What resulted was a mélange of cultures, religions, monuments and distinctive architecture. In fact, much of the old city is well preserved and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its cultural significance.
With rows upon rows of candy cane-striped arches, Cordoba’s Mezquita is undoubtedly the most famous site in the city. Originally constructed between 785 and 787 CE, this Great Mosque was expanded many times over the next several centuries. Toward the end of the Spanish Reconquista in the fifteenth century, a cathedral was built nearly square in the middle of the mosque. Fortunately for future generations, they found a way to integrate the religious structures of this architectural marvel.
The above photo shows the detailed, gilded dome over the prayer niche at the Mezquita complex.
Built in the 1st century BCE, the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) has withstood the test of time for over two millennia (multiple face-lifts notwithstanding.) Its sixteen stone arches span 810 feet (247 meters) over the Guadalquivir River.
The Torre del Alminar is a 305 foot (93 meter) tall bell tower located at the edge of the Mezquita complex on the former site of the mosque’s minaret. Date palms and orange trees are a common sight in the patios of Andalucía, giving shade from the searing Spanish sun.
The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is a medieval fortress adjacent to the Guadalquivir River and only a couple of blocks away from La Mezquita. This fortress was once the residence of los Reyes Católicos, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the very same Catholic monarchs who financed Christopher Columbus and his voyage to America. On the grounds are some gorgeous manicured gardens and fountains.
Along with Granada and Sevilla, Córdoba is another of the great cities of Andalucía worth visiting. Easily accessible from Madrid on Spain’s high-speed bullet train, the AVE, it’s a perfect destination for your Spain holidays this spring or summer.
Have you ever been to Córdoba? What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment in the section below!
Michael Figueiredo is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not gallivanting around the world, he’s enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and perfect weather of Southern California. So far he’s visited forty countries and territories on five continents. His goal is to see at least one new country every year! . Read more from this author