TOP THINGS
TO DO & SEE in Cordoba, Spain

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Cordoba’s star attraction is without a doubt the Great Mosque. Its interior is captivating and the amazing history told through its architecture is equally as impressive. But Cordoba has more than just the Mosque to make it a great destination. The old Jewish quarter is a pleasure to stroll through and there are tons of perfectly manicured patios full of flowers and vegetation to discover. And don’t forget to check out the Alcazar palace and walk across the Roman bridge to the Calahorra Tower.

Top 5 Things to Do

1

GREAT MOSQUE

Impressive row of arches in the interior of Cordoba's Mosque, Spain
Interior of Cordoba's Great Mosque

Córdoba’s majestic mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city’s main attraction. It is one of the world’s greatest works of Islamic architecture as well as a symbol of the sophisticated Islamic culture that flourished in Córdoba when it was once the centre of Western Islam.

The construction of the mosque started in 785 AD, when Córdoba was established as the capital of Al-Andalus. Over the centuries numerous new additions were made to the original building. In 1236, Cordoba was retaken by the Christian King from Castile and the mosque was converted into a church. Finally, in the 16th century, a massive cathedral was built in the center of the Mosque.

Patio of Cordoba's Mosque, Spain
Views of the Mosque from the Bell Tower – Cordoba

What makes the mosque truly special is that it was never destroyed by the conquering Christian forces but instead was repurposed and added on to, leaving behind centuries of history in a single building.

Apart from the interior of the mosque itself, its courtyard, known as the Patio de los Naranjos (The Patio of the Orange trees), is always free to visit. Inside, you can visit the 17th century Bell Tower which was built over the remains of the mosque’s minaret. With its height of 54m (177ft), it offers some of the best views of the city.

2

ALCAZAR

Alcazar seen from its lush gardens in Córdoba, Spain
Gardens of the Alcazar – Cordoba

The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Kings) was built in the 13th & 14th centuries on the remains of a Moorish palace. During the reconquista, Isabella I and her husband, Ferdinand II, used the castle as their primary residence. Inside, they also established the first permanent tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition which lasted for 3 centuries.

Although there isn’t much to see inside the building today, the Alcazar of Cordoba is still definitely worth a visit. There are some great views from the top of one of the towers and outside you will find beautiful terraced gardens that are a delight to walk through: fish ponds, fountains, orange trees and plenty of colorful flowers. It’s easy to imagine caliphs and kings walking through these same gardens centuries ago.

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Enlarge Image of Cordoba's Alcazar, Spain Enlarge Image of the wall of Cordoba's Alcazar, Spain
3

JEWISH QUARTER

Tourists walking down a colorful street in Cordoba's Jewish Quarter – Spain
Jewish Quarter – Cordoba

The Jewish Quarter (“judería” in Spanish) is located next to the Mosque. This labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed buildings was once home to a vibrant Jewish community that, by the 10th century, was well established in the society (doctors, jurists, administrators, etc.).

However, once the christians arrived to Al-Andalus, the Jewish community faced persecution. Thousands were killed for not converting to christianity and by 1492 all were expelled from Spain. As a result, there isn’t much “Jewish” in the Jewish Quarter today, with the exception of a small but beautiful synagogue (free entrance).

Cordoba's San Bartolome Mudejar Chapel, Spain
Chapel of San Bartolome – Cordoba

The neighborhood is still very charming and it’s worth it to wander through its winding streets. You will also find many bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. In addition, there are several other small points of interest:

  • Chapel of San Bartolomé (1.50€ entrance fee) is a splendid example of Mudejar architecture.
  • Artisan Market (Zoco Municipal de Artesanía, free entrance) is formed by a charming series of courtyards surrounded by the studios of local artists. You can buy leather, glass, textiles, pottery, etc.
  • Sefarad House (4€ entrance fee) is a Jewish museum in a restored 14th century home. Not many local artifacts though and a lot of reading.
  • Casa Andalusí (4€ entrance fee) houses a small exhibition of Córdoba’s history, art and culture.
  • Córdoba’s Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino, 4€ entrance fee). If you have already seen the bullfighting museums of Ronda or Sevilla, you can skip this one.
4

PATIOS & VIANA PALACE

Lush courtyard with a palm in its center in the Viana Palace – Cordoba, Spain
Courtyard in the Viana Palace – Cordoba

Cordoba can get hot. Real hot. It’s not uncommon to surpass 40°C (99°F) in the summer months. Back in the day, every building in Cordoba would have a small courtyard patio that would function as a private oasis, away from the sweltering heat. Inside these patios, it’s typical to find a fountain surrounded by shade-giving trees, brightly colored flowers and special architectural features such a tiles, ironwork, arches and columns. These are places that invite you to slow down and relax – away from the stress of the city around.

While you can often have a peek into many patios throughout the city, one of the best ways to experience them to their fullest is by touring the gorgeous Viana Palace (5€ entrance fee). This exuberant 16th century Renaissance Palace is set around 12 beautifully manicured patios. For an extra 3€, you get a 1 hour guided visit of the inside of the building, which is definitely recommended.

Cordoba's colorful flowers in the Viana Palace, Spain
Colorful flowers in the Viana Palace – Cordoba

Patios are a serious thing in Cordoba. Every year, the best patios compete for the prize of the most beautiful patio in the Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba (Patios Festival), celebrated around May’s second and third weeks. During the festival, all of the competing patios are open to visitors for free. The rest of the year, only some patios are open for free, while others can be visited as part of a Patios Tour.

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Enlarge Image of Cordoba's Viana Palace, Spain
5

ROMAN BRIDGE & TOWER

Roman Bridge and Mosque at sunset – Cordoba, Spain
Roman Bridge & Great Mosque at sunset – Cordoba

Córdoba’s Roman Bridge was the first one to be built over the Guadalquivir River. Originally, it formed part of the ancient Via Augusta which ran from Narbonne in France to Cádiz in the very south of the Iberian Peninsula. Via Augusta was the longest and busiest road built by the Romans in ancient Hispania.

Córdoba’s bridge has also appeared in season 5 of Game of Thrones as the Long Bridge of Volantis. In the show, the bridge is so large that it is covered in rows of buildings, taverns, brothels and marketplaces, forming a small neighborhood on itself.

At the end of the Roman Bridge, stands the Calahorra Tower (4.50€ entrance fee), a fortified gate from the 14th century built to protect the Christian city. Currently it houses the Museum of Al-Andalus Life. Inside, you will find information about the thriving Moorish culture that existed in Córdoba during the time of Al-Andalus (9th-12th centuries). The top of the tower offers some of the best panoramic views of Córdoba.

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FLAMENCO

Flamenco is at the core of Córdoba’s culture. This old tradition is still very much alive today. Flamenco is part of most festivities and celebrations. It is not uncommon for children to attend flamenco school since an early age. There is even a yearly Certamen de Academias de Baile (Dance Academies Competition) when the students of all the flamenco schools in the city perform for free for a week for the joy of both locals and visitors.

For a list of venues celebrating flamenco shows in Cordoba and more information about all things flamenco in the city, check out our page Where to see flamenco in Cordoba.

JULIO ROMERO MUSEUM

Córdoba’s most visited museum is devoted to the beloved local painter Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930). Housed in a former hospital, the museum (4.5€ entrance fee) exhibits the work of Romero de Torres, including some of his famous paintings of Andalusian female beauty.

PLAZA DE LA CORREDERA

Plaza de la Corredera is Córdoba’s "main square" ("plaza mayor" in Spanish). Dating back to the 17th century, this historic square is often used for markets and other celebrations (concerts, etc.). The buildings that surround the square have had many different uses throughout the centuries (town hall, jail, hat factory, etc.). Today, apart from the Market Sánchez Peña, there are also a variety of bars and restaurants surrounding the square, making it the perfect place to sit in a terrace and enjoy a drink and/or snack.

ANDALUSIAN HORSE SHOW

Horse breeding has a long tradition in Córdoba. In 1570, the royal stables (Caballerizas Reales) were built next to the Alcázar with the goal of creating a new horse breed, the Andalusian horse. This horse was bred to be the pure Spanish breed, a symbol of prestige. Today, the Caballerizas Reales offer a 1-hour equestrian show (16.5€ entrance fee) featuring the Andalusian horse and combining a variety of riding styles with flamenco dance.

If you don’t have a specific interest in horses, you can skip it.

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