Cordoba is located in Andalusia, in southern Spain. The southern area of Spain has a Mediterranean climate but it does get very hot in the summers. When I visited Cordoba I did it in a day! I would certainly try to stay longer then that but in one day you can see the main sites. For travel information see “travel tips” below.
Cordoba is an impressive city. In the Middle Ages Cordoba was actually one of the largest cities in the world!
On my trip to Cordoba I took the train from Madrid (2.5 hours) and from the train station you can take a taxi right to the Mezquita. You can also walk from the station but if you are short on time a taxi is the best option.
The Mezquita is the main attraction in Cordoba and I believe it is one of the items on the “must see before you die list” and I can vouch that it really is a “must see.” The Mezquita is also known as Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. It was originally a Mosque and is now a Roman Catholic Cathedral and this is the precise reason that the building is so magnificent, intriguing and stunning. You can’t help but walk in and be stunned. Most of your visit will be spent wandering through the Mezquita and marveling at the structure.
A little history about the Mezquita… In 600 AD the building was begun as a Christian Visigoth church but was then bought by Emir Ad bar-Rahman who restructured the building as a mosque, a process that took two centuries to complete! The mosque has an unusual position as it points south instead of east-southeast in the direction of Mecca. The mosque was also an adjunct to Abd ar-Rahman’s palace. (Abd ar-Rahman was the founder of Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba, a Muslim Dynasty that ruled most of Iberia for almost three centuries).
The Mezquita is recognized for its unique interior. There are 856 columns with large striped arches. There is also a large dome in the center, decorated with blue tiles. The mosque was completed, along with the orange tree courtyard, in 987. But in 1236 Cordoba was taken over by King Ferdinand III of Castile and that is when the mosque was converted into a cathedral. The main alteration to the building was the insertion of a cathedral nave in the middle. The mixture of architectural elements is what is so intriguing.
After exploring the Mezquita you should see the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos which is right by the Mezquita. The palace has extensive gardens with fountains and statues. Admission is free on Wednesdays! For a link to more information and admission prices see travel tips below.
And then I suggest you walk through the old city center, as I did, and explore the narrow streets lined with white houses. As you pass the white houses you will notice an abundance of flowers and flower pots as well as patios and courtyards that you will get glimpses of through iron gates. One popular street is the Calleja de las flores which is very photogenic.
Overall Cordoba is a wonderful Mediterranean city with charming streets and the magnificent Mezquita!
1 – You can see Cordoba in one day if that is all the time you have. From Madrid you take the train right to Cordoba and it is a two and a half hour ride. So if you get there in the early morning and leave late evening you will have plenty of time to see the main sites. For train times and prices click here for Rail Europe.
2 – Cordoba’s historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.