Córdoba Day Trip – Top 11 Things To See And Do

Mosque-Cathedral Cordoba
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Here’s a question you might be asking yourself: Is one day enough to see Córdoba?

And the answer is: Of course not!! However, you can see many of the most important monuments of the city and take a big bite at its culture. You will know a lot about the city by the time your day is over, or at least, you will have acquired enough information for you to decide whether is worth a longer visit.

First, let me give some facts about the city:

– Córdoba has one of the biggest historic quarters in the world.

– In countries like Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and the United States there is a city called Córdoba (big Spanish influence in America)

– The patios are considered Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Now, what was the most important building of the cities in medieval times (or any time, really)? Yup, the church. Córdoba’s “church” is extremely peculiar and you’ll see why…

Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba)

Declared World Heritage Monument in 1984, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is one of the most beautiful and history-filled buildings of the entire world. The building is an irony itself; how can something be a Muslim mosque and a Christian cathedral at the same time?!

This magnificent construction was built in only 2 years since they “recycled” some of the pillars from Roman buildings that previously occupied the mosque site and others were sent from different Roman buildings located throughout the Iberian region. As you walk through the mosque-cathedral, you will notice the difference in material and design of all the columns. It once had 1000 columns and it currently has 856 which is still a lot of columns!

The history of this site is so complex and rich due to the many and different civilizations that left their mark all in only one place. First, the Romans built a temple to god Juno (or so it’s thought), then the Visigoths invaded the country and raised an Episcopal Complex. Thirdly, and the most defining in my opinion, the Muslims erected a monumental mosque that might have been an alternative of the Mecca for the people who did not have enough money. Lastly, after the Reconquista, Christians modified it once again, building a majestic cathedral right in the middle of the mosque symbolizing the restoration of the Catholic faith which took more than 100 years to finish.

This symbol of multi-faith tolerance reminds us of the times when Muslims could live peacefully alongside Jews and Christians. An architectural piece of this significance is definitely a must-see when you visit Córdoba.

Patio de los Naranjos

In English, the name of this garden is Courtyard of the Orange Trees and it is part of the Mosque-Cathedral. Initially called the Courtyard of the Palm Trees, in the century XVI some of the palm trees were removed and orange trees were planted thus changing its name.

This closed and private space, invited to contemplation and served, during the Muslims “reign”, as the Caliphate courtyard of ablution. Ablution is the ritual of purification prior to Muslim prayer, therefore making this garden an essential area of the Mosque. During this period of time, it was also used as a social meeting place and as a school for children until Al-Hakam II, second Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, built public schools.

Moreover, after the Catholic Reconquest, it was also a space of important ceremonies and of great solemnity.

Now, it is one of the most relaxing spots in the city (only if you can ignore the huge crowd!!).

Bell Tower

The Bell Tower of the Mosque-Cathedral is the tallest building of the city of Córdoba. It was originally a minaret (a tower from which the faithful are called to prayer) and after the Christian Reconquest in 1236, it was turned into a bell tower. And it wasn’t until the year 1589, after an earthquake affected its structure, that the tower was rebuilt to become what we see today.

The craziest fact about this bell tower is that the former minaret is still inside the tower; the Christians built the new bell tower enveloping the Muslim structure remains which can still be seen while going up!

The view from the top is magnificent. However, a downside could be 191 steps that you would have to climb to reach the top. By the way, it only costs 2 euros to go up.

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

The Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs was built in the year 1328 to serve a military purpose. The king Alfonso XI of Castile ordered to build his new palace on top of the former Andalusian Alcazar where the Caliphate of Córdoba resided.

The Alcazar was the place from which Ferdinand and Isabella, monarchs of Spain in the 15th century, planned taking over the last Moorish territory in Spain (Granada). It was also the setting of the conversations held with Christopher Columbus regarding his trip that led to the discovery of the Americas.

It is absolutely magnificent so make it a must-see!

Important: Free on Thursdays after 6:00 pm.

Calahorra Tower

This tower was built by the Moors (as you are beginning to notice, most of Andalusia was made by them 😆) as a fort and has suffered countless modifications ever since, in design and purpose.

In the 18th century it was used as a prison, in the 19th century served as a girls school, and now is a very interesting museum about the history of Córdoba centering on the coexistence of three cultures: Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

We didn’t have enough time to go in, however, I wish I could have visited the museum. Visit it for me, PLEASE!!

Roman Bridge

I don’t think the bridge can be called Roman anymore. It does not resemble Roman architecture whatsoever. However, it is still impressive.

The Roman Bridge of Cordoba was built in the 1st century BC to cross the Guadalquivir river and it was the only bridge that the city had for 20 centuries. Today, and after undergoing several modifications, the bridge is composed of 16 arches and has a length of approximately 820 ft.

You probably have seen this bridge before, since it was used to shoot some scenes of the fifth season of the series Game of Thrones (yup, a lot of GOT was shoot in Spain).

Gate of the Bridge (Viewpoint)

I don’t think this monument is on many tourist guides; I didn’t know it existed before going to Córdoba, but it is impossible to miss it since it is right in the way after crossing the Roman bridge.

There weren’t many people going up (AWESOME) but I love love love city views so I had to climb those steps. WILL NEVER REGRET IT.

It is also known as the Triumphal Arch and it was the main entrance to the city. There is not much information known about this gate but it is worth a visit.

Calleja de las Flores

Calleja de las Flores is one of the most popular/busy tourist streets in Córdoba. It is a very narrow alleyway ending in a cute little plaza and it is full of hanging pots with flowers (very Andalusian).

HINT: When you walk back, look up and you will see the bell tower of the Mezquita-Catedral in between the walls. Truly beautiful.

Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter of Córdoba, or Barrio de la Juderia in Spanish, is way less commercialized than the one in Seville. Therefore, you will see a more authentic side of the city.

Full of narrow streets, interesting buildings, and hidden plazas, this side of Córdoba will take you back to medieval times but most importantly you will be able to easily imagine the coexistence of three communities. For example, the Synagogue (Jewish) was built in Mudejar style, which is what they called the Muslims that converted to Christianity, thus giving name to the architectural style emerging in Christian times but carried out by Muslims workers.

Most important things to see in the quarter are the Jewish Synagogue, Calle del Agua (Water Alley), Maimonides Statue, La Puerta de Almodovar, Casa Andalusi, Juderia Street, and the Local Souk.

Casa Andalusi

Located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, Casa Andalusi transports its visitors to Caliphate times. The atmosphere, the aroma, the music; they all make you feel a part of those times.

It is a house museum and it is also home to the Paper Museum, which explains the process of papermaking, everything from material selection to its selling, adopted by the Andalusian of the time.

NOTE: You should also visit the Museum of Alchemy which is right next door.

Viana Palace

This incredible palace is almost 21326 square feet in extension of which 13123 square feet correspond to courtyards, gardens, and open spaces. Yes, you read right; more than half its surface is dedicated to open spaces!!

Built in the 14th century, the Viana Palace is also known as the Patio Museum (you can guess why). It was used as a house up until the end of the 20th century by noble families. You will notice their absolutely great taste.

You think you’d be interested in a day like this? If you are a Culture Vulture like I am you will have a blast!

Also, if you have been to Córdoba before, let me know if I missed any other important spots because I sure will be coming back to this charming city.

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