Un día en córdoba

November 2019 —

Oh my gosh if you have the opportunity, you need to see the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba, Spain!! I just about cried when I walked in because it is absolutely and purely incredible!! This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in the late 700s AD, and is like receiving a historical and cultural awakening at the same time. The strong Arabic influence on almost everything in Southern Spain is extremely evident, meaning everywhere you go there is something to see!

Taking a day trip to Córdoba is well worth the wait to get into the mosque-cathedral, plus there is a very intact castle with massive strolling gardens! The beautiful and fragrant pomegranate, lemon, and orange trees give off a pleasant aroma when wandering the castle grounds and there are lots of lively flowering plants, palm trees, and fountains. I felt like I was a princess in a Disney movie. : ) 

After feeling quite settled into my flat in Madrid, and having just been to Ávila, Spain to see the stunning city walls, I felt it was only right to visit the diversified city of Córdoba. So I booked a day trip by train to visit the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Puente Romano de Córdoba, and the Torre de Calahorra. It is approximately a 2 hour journey from Madrids Puerta de Atocha station to the Renfe Station in Córdoba. For the day I packed a backpack filled with a bountiful lunch, a raincoat, a vest, and a phone charger. for a journey like this I typically need to recharge my phone midway through using it for GoogleMaps and taking photos as it is not a new phone.

 

My Route for the Day

Upon arriving to Córdoba around 9 a.m., I was immediately greeted with a warm delightful breeze. Walking from the station to the bus stop on the next block over, and I could just tell that it was going to be a very nice day! I took a bus to the center of town where the historic district is primarily located on Avenida del Alcázar, or Castle Avenue, and the Guadalquivir River. I had until about 5 p.m. to soak in as much of the city as possible before having to catch my train back to Madrid.

The first place I decided to partake in was the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, or The Castle of the Christian Monarchs. The elaborate and ancient craftsmanship of this castle is attributed to the Moors who controlled much of Southern Spain for hundreds of years, and built this castle around the early 1300s. Attached to the castle are the stunning Jardines del Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos which are some of the most beatifically laid our gardens I have ever seen. There are perfectly groomed shrubs, lemon and orange trees, pomegranate trees, rows of colourful flowers, hand laid out Roman mosaic fountains, and palm trees every which way that one can look. I arrived about 9:45 a.m., and boy am I glad I did because about 10 a.m. the line to get in grew to a couple hundred people! I probably spent about an hour and a half here. This is a must see sight for sure, and I am super happy that I got an early entrance ticket. The cost to get in is not very much, and I would suggest visiting it for sure!

From there I wandered over to the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, or the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, which is perhaps one of the most famous structures in all of Spain!! It is world renown for its mind boggling and incredibly intricate Arabic archways that engulf the whole interior of the mosque. I really am still perplexed as to how they designed all of these red and yellow patterned archways so well that it looks as if they were simply one piece to begin with. I would say that when you consider visiting Spain and the sights to see, this is on the list of the top 5 things to see in Spain. And if you mention Spain to almost anyone who has considered visiting, they will surely know of this godly masterpiece. Even the exterior courtyard is wonderful to admire and walk around in. The exterior entrances of the mosque-cathedral are gold plated with detailed red, yellow, and brown painted patterns. This is also quite possibly one of the most interesting sights in Spain given that there is a Christian cathedral smack dab in the middle of the mosque. It is a rare example of how a mutual respect was forged between the Moors and the Christians. I wandered around awe struck for approximately 2 hours, and I would have stayed longer!

Afterwards I went down in front of the mosque cathedral where there is an open square that leads to the Puente Romano de Córdoba, or the Roman Bridge of Córdoba, and ate lunch while gazing at the sun sparkles over the river. This heavy duty bridge is probably more sturdy than a good portion of modern day bridges. The Romans sure knew how to build things to last as I believe that this bridge was primarily constructed around the 700s A.D., but originally formed several hundred years prior. There is not a single flaw to be seen in the stone work when you cross! On the opposite end of the bridge, there is the Torre de Calahorra, or Calahorra Tower, which is essentially a mini fortress that guarded the other end of the bridge.

Just near the Torre de Calahorra on the riverbank is a sweet little park with peaceful views of the babbling water flow. Additionally, there is a rather old water wheel that is decently intact and located on the opposite side of the river. The city is also known for having a very prominent Jewish Quarter which has lots to see and do. The Córdoba Synagogue is as equally ancient as the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, but filled with a completely different outlook on history.

If you walk on along the river in front of where the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is located there are partially crumbled but still formidable walls that used to be the primary line of defence for the castle. There is also another tower that is in good solid condition, though I think it has been closed off from visitors of recently. If you find yourself looking for a casual stroll, then just wandering around the narrow winding streets of the city will promise many unusual and fascinating discoveries. I found several fun candy stores, gift shops selling Arabic lanterns and Spanish fans, and even hidden garden areas that shook you with their beauty. Right on the river, just a few blocks down from the mosque-cathedral, there is a quaint little bookstore that sells antique books and irregular reads. I stopped in and spent around 40 minutes just checking out all of the National Geographic magazines that were on display from the 1960s all the way to the early 2000s.

 

Suggestions

I wouldn’t suggest planning out one super long day, instead spend the night and look for additional sights to see and things to do. I didn’t need to be there for as long as I planned given what I wanted to visit, and therefore a shorter visit would’ve sufficed. The last hour and a half that I was there, I spent sitting by the river waiting for the bus I needed to bring me to the train station. Thus, I’d suggest narrowing down your visitation time to 6 hours instead of 8 hours as I allowed for myself, or making it a larger trip by spending an overnight.

Going in November is a great time because it was still pretty warm outside. The castle gardens were still in bloom, and as such, I would advise to try and visit sometime between May and November just for this reason. Of course the gardens will be lovely no matter the time of the year, but to be there when the flowers, trees, and plants are in bloom is probably going to factor in to just how spectacular they will be.

Also, I chose to bring my own food to save money, but since Córdoba is part of Andalusia it is well know that meals are significantly cheaper than in other regions in Spain. Meaning, you could easily find a lovely restaurant with decently priced meals if that is what you prefer. : )

Be sure to check out my other posts for more amazing tips! Click below : )  Budgeting: Where to Stay & How to Get There                                           Plan Ahead: Do More & Worry Less                                                                       Minimize: Pack Lighter & Smarter                                                                     Be Smart, Vigilant & Observant 

 

Overall, Córdoba is one in a million between the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba! If you find yourself pondering what iconic places to visit in Southern Spain, this city should be on your list!!

~ La Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba ~

The view of the Puente Romano looking towards the Torre de Calahorra.
The Puente Romano from the water level. This side was much drier than the other, so the "river" is on the other side. From here I am looking towards the mosque-cathedral.
One of the tiniest streets of the city, just a mere 5 feet wide!!
Remnants of an old church that has been converted into a house.
The view from within the Mosque-Catedral de Córdoba looking out towards the river.
The entrance to a secret garden I found.
A unique mini church tucked in between rows of houses.
One of many eloquently potted windows that line the narrow streets.

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