6 Top things to do in Córdoba

Córdoba was once the Roman and Moorish capital of Spain with its roots in the banks of the Guadalquivir River in Andalusia, Spain.  It has a rich cultural and architectural heritage and in medieval times it was one of the few places Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived together peacefully.  Yet, it’s somewhat overshadowed by its neighbors, Granada and Seville and left out of many Spanish itineraries.  I enjoyed my stay in the city so much, I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Spain and the South.  Here’s my 6 Top Things to do in Córdoba I compiled after my stay.

1.  Visit the Mezquita (Mosque-Cathedral)

The Mezquita is Córdoba’s most spectacular sight to behold.  It was built as a mosque in 786 and turned into a cathedral after the Christians finally conquered Córdoba in the 1200s.  It’s filled with a ‘forest’ of marble columns and typical Islamic red-and-white horseshoe arches, multiple domes, a mihrab (prayer niche) and various chapels.  You can spend hours here admiring the detail and grandness of the construction, reminding just how important Córdoba was in ancient times.  Be sure to take a look at the tranquil orange tree patio just outside the Mezquita.  See all my photographs and more info about a visit to the Mezquita here.

Cost: 8 Euro

Horseshoe arches of the Mezquita, Cordoba
Horseshoe arches of the Mezquita, Cordoba

2.  Take a walk across Córdoba’s Roman Bridge

Córdoba’s Roman bridge is another reminder of the city’s place in ancient times.  It was built by the Romans and still uses some of their first century foundations.  The bridge is a pedestrian zone that leads straight to the Mezquita.  You can get a great view of the grand structure of the Mezquita and some beautiful pictures at night.

Cost: Free

Roman Bridge and Mezquita at night
Roman Bridge and Mezquita at night, Cordoba
View of the Mezquita at night from the Roman Bridge, Cordoba
View of the Mezquita at night from the Roman Bridge, Cordoba

3. Explore the colorful patios

Córdoba is filled with pretty tiled patios and colorful flowers in a reminder to Moorish times and architecture where they were used to escape the summer heat (it was 42 degrees when we visited!).  Close to the Mezquita on the side of the bell tower, the famous Calle de las flores leads you down a narrow street of beautiful flowers and courtyards.  This is also the street most tour groups press into after visiting the Mezquita and it gets very crowded.  All throughout the old town you’ll find more hidden patios.  There’s even a festival in spring where people open their homes so that visitors can view their courtyards.

Cost: Free

Things to do in Cordoba
Cordoba is famous for its patios, flowers, orange trees and the Mezquita
Colorful flowers of a patio in Cordoba
Colorful flowers of a patio in Cordoba
Calleja de las Flores, Cordoba
Calleja de las Flores, Cordoba
Courtyard tile work in Cordoba
Courtyard tile work in Cordoba
Entrance courtyard of our budget hotel, Hotel Maestre
Entrance courtyard of our budget hotel, Hotel Maestre
Flowers in the Old Town of Cordoba
Flowers in the Old Town of Cordoba
Courtyard Mural
Courtyard Mural

4.  The gardens of Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

On the site where the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos stands today was once a Visigoth fortress before the Moors built a a residence of the caliphate on the site.  Later on it was used as a fortress for Ferdinand and Isabella, the Christian Monarchs and in the Spanish Inquisition.  Inside the building is some old Roman mosaic murals, but it’s the beautifully kept garden of the residence that lures visitors.

Cost: 4.50 Euro

Lush green gardens of Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba
Lush green gardens of Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba

 

The Christian Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Cordoba
The Christian Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Cordoba

5.  The Moorish ruins of Medinat-al-Zahra

I’ve gotten used to seeing Roman ruins everywhere in Europe, so when I heard about the ruins of a vast Arab-Muslim summer palace in a ruined capital of the Western Caliphate 5km outside of Córdoba, I really wanted to see them.  It was built by Abd ar-Rahman III between 936-940 against the foothills of the Sierra Morena, but became unoccupied in 1010 after a civil war.  The ruins and history are interesting and some of the horseshoe arches seen in the Mezquita can be seen ‘in ruins’ here.  There is a local tourist bus that runs to the site or your can take a taxi, just ask at the tourist information in town.  There’s also a museum at the sight showcasing some of the finds from the excavation area.  All throughout the South of Spain, I was really fascinated by the Moorish heritage and if you are too, I suggest a visit to Medinat-al-Zahra.

Cost: 1.50 Euro entrance, around 8 Euro for the bus.

Ruins of a Summer Palace, Medinat-al-Zahra
Ruins of a Summer Palace, Medinat-al-Zahra
Ruins of Medinat-al-Zahra, Cordoba
Ruins of Medinat-al-Zahra, Cordoba

6.  Watch a Flamenco show with an Equestrian twist

I absolutely love flamenco and try to watch a performance in every Spanish city I visit if I can.  In Córdoba I watched two shows, a traditional performance with dancers, singers and musicians and…a flamenco show with an equestrian twist.  The Cordobans are very proud of their Andalusian horses and a visit to Caballerizas Real (Royal Stables) will show you just why.  The creatures are breathtakingly beautiful!  The show is coordinated with flamenco dancers, horses and their riders and so much fun to watch.  It’s a good way to spend the early evening before heading off for a late dinner.  The traditional show I watched was at Tablao el Cardinal.  (Note: I had to sneak in some photos, didn’t want to disturb the performers.)

Cost: Anything for 18 Euro and up.

Traditional Flamenco performance in Cordoba
Traditional Flamenco performance in Cordoba
You can just see the flamenco dancer in the right-hand corner
You can just see the flamenco dancer in the right-hand corner
Flamenco and Equestrian Show in Cordoba
Flamenco and Equestrian Show in Cordoba
The Royal Stables, Cordoba
The Royal Stables, Cordoba

Other Information

Drink: Cafe con leche con hielo/Cafe con hielo (coffee with ice) against the heat

Eat: Bull tail stew, Salmorejo

If you have time, here are some more places to see: The Juderia (Jewish quarter) and La Synagoga, Viana Palace (former aristocratic residence with over 14 patios), Zoco Artisinal Market (for souvenirs), Museo de Bellas Artes (features Sorolla, Goya, ect.).  I also went to see a classical guitar show with orchestra in the concert hall.

Budget stay: There’s many options but we stayed at Hotel Maestre and they have a hostel section too.  The stay was OK for the price but the location was excellent.

Pin for later!

Top things to do in Cordoba, Spain

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Part of the #MondayEscapes link up.  Check it out here.

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31 thoughts on “6 Top things to do in Córdoba

  1. We visited Cordoba earlier this year. We only stopped for an afternoon and visited the Mezquita, but I came away thinking that theres a lot more to see in Cordoba. Your post proves it and I have to go back 🙂 Thank you for sharing. #MondayEscapes

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