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Rustic Blue Holiday Guide to Cordoba

Once the largest city in the world under the Moors, Córdoba is a city with an incomparable legacy of great riches …

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The Puente Romano over the Rio Guadalquivir The Mezquita of Córdoba is, along with Granada's Alhambra Palace, the finest example of Islamic Art in the Western world Jardines de los Reales Alcazares There are, of course, plenty of festivals and fiestas Outside the Mezquita Torre del Alminar, the bell tower built on the site of the original minaret of the Mezquita Córdoba is a city of flowers and brilliant light
Córdoba
Population

325,450

Altitude

120 metres

Distance from Málaga

160 kilometres

Distance from the Coast

160 kilometres

Patron Saints

San Acisclus, San Rafael

Fiesta Dates

Easter Week

Día de La Cruz, 3rd May

Patio Festival, second and third weeks of May

Feria de Córdoba, 9 days of fiesta in late May

Climate

Córdoba is the hottest city in Europe with average daily highs in July of 36.2°C. Every year the temperature exceeds 40 °C on several occasions.

Winters are mild (possibly with a little rain) but without doubt the best times to visit are Spring and Autumn.

Description

The Mecca of the west

Córdoba was the largest city in the world in the tenth century, the capital of Al-Andalus, the Moorish kingdom which extended across almost all of Spain.

Córdoba was the largest city in the world in the tenth century, the thriving capital of Al-Andalus, the name used to describe Moorish Spain which extended throughout almost all of the Iberian Peninsular. In its heyday it was considered the Mecca of the west.

Today it is an extremely attractive provincial town, albeit Spain's tenth largest city with a population of around 325,000. What makes it so very, very special is its wonderful history, which has given the city a legacy of incomparable riches, dominated, of course, by its magnificent Mezquita, the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

Right in the centre of the city, surrounded by the old Jewish and Moorish quarters, The Mezquita of Córdoba is, along with Granada's Alhambra Palace, the finest example of Islamic Art in the Western world. It was the grandest and most beautiful mosque constructed by the Moors in Spain.

Overwhelmed by its beauty

The Christians who reconquered the city were so overwhelmed by the beauty of the Mezquita that they could not bring themselves to destroy it.

When the Christians reconquered the city they were so overwhelmed by its beauty that they could not bring themselves to destroy it (as was their custom, invariably building a church or cathedral on the site of the old mosques). Here they built their Cathedral inside the existing Mosque. It's one of only a handful of man-made places in the world which literally takes your breath away.

Constructed between AD 786 and 988, and it was the place of worship for the rulers of the great western Islamic empire. When Fernando III conquered Cordoba in the 1236, the Mosque was consecrated as a cathedral. Then, in 1523, the cathedral canons ordered the centre of the mosque to be pulled down to make way for a Gothic cathedral, which was later embellished with Renaissance decorations and Baroque choir stalls and pulpits.

Although the Gothic cathedral occupies the centre of the former mosque, large expanses of the original building still remain much the same as they were in the 11th century.

Ironically, it was the Christian conversion of the building to a cathedral that is responsible for its excellent conservation. Other important monuments in the city were plundered for their marble, cut stone and columns over the centuries, and no other mosque survived intact.

Strolling around

You are sure to come across a little square trickling with a fountain, peaceful courtyards and balconies overflowing with bougainvilleas.

The Islamic features which still remain in the Mezquita include the Minaret, now enclosed and reformed into a Baroque bell tower, the Orange Tree Courtyard, the Mihrab and the extensive forest of columns and double arches.

It is an enormous building, still one of the largest buildings in Spain, some 22,000 square meters in area, with high ceilings perched on top of double arches and the towering structure of the cathedral rising from the centre of the original Mosque. It is a unique example of the inter-play of Christian and Moslem cultures in Spain.

Quite apart from the Mesquita, there's much more to discover in Córdoba. A city to be savoured at leisure, it's very picturesque. A town to stroll around, you are sure to come across a little square trickling with a fountain, peaceful courtyards and balconies overflowing with bougainvilleas.

An elegant city

It's a city which has not lost its soul to modernity or to mass tourism, a place where you can relax in an authentic Andalusian setting.

It's an elegant city, large enough to offer a good range of amenities, yet small enough to walk everywhere. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, it's a city which has not lost its soul to modernity or to mass tourism, a place where you can relax in an authentic Andalusian setting.

Wander the tiny streets of the Judería (the Jewish Quarter) with their flower filled patios and one of the last three synagogues still remaining in Spain (the rest were all destroyed following the expulsion of the Jews in 1492).

You should visit the beautiful gardens of the Catholic Kings, El Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, where Columbus first sought finance for his voyage of discovery from Fernando and Isabella. And a stroll across the Roman bridge past the Arab waterwheels to the other side of the Guadalquivir river is a great spot for a panoramic view of the historical heart of the city which is particularly beautiful at sunset.

There are, of course, plenty of festivals and fiestas. As elsewhere throughout Spain, Holy Week is full of ritual, display and devotion, the costaleros bearing their elaborately depicted biblical scenes on their shoulders through the narrow streets. Thousands of candles and masked penitents lead the way and trail behind, accompanied by music, adding to the solemnity and symbolism.

Cordoba's patios

Córdoba's patios capture the essence of the city and its civic pride; one can only marvel at the variety, beauty and loving care which is put into creating them.

The city's most emblematic event of the year takes place in early May. The Patio Festival is a unique opportunity to step into the private homes of the townsfolk, when house owners open their patios to the public. One can only marvel at the variety and beauty of these patios, and the loving care which is put into creating them.

Córdoba's patios perhaps best capture the essence of the city and the civic pride of its people; quiet and tranquil spaces, oasis isolated from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The aroma of lemon blossom, the exuberant colours of the flowers, the cool trickle of a fountain …

Las Cruces de Mayo is another spring festival which celebrates the exuberance of life and its triumph over death. It is a massive, lively street party. Neighbourhoods and associations around the city set up crosses in public squares, covering and surrounding them with flowers.

Springtime

The month of May is almost a non-stop street party, celebrating the Cruces de Mayo, the Patio Festival and Córdoba's nine days of Feria.

Music, dancing and drinking accompany the festivities, women wear colourful flamenco dresses, people drink chilled Montilla-Moriles wine and the most danced-to songs are "sevillanas".

And then there is La Feria, nine days of merrymaking in late May. During the Fair most businesses close at lunch time, everyone heads off to the fairground and the streets of the city centre are left deserted.

The main attraction are the casetas. These covered areas, with their own bars, kitchens, music and dance floors are set up by social clubs and associations to provide a place for their members, their families and friends to celebrate the week.

Best of all, unlike the famous Sevilla Fair, most casetas in Córdoba are open to non-members. There is something for everyone, and it is fun to go from place to place in search of the best party. And don't forget to finish off your festivities with an early-morning round of churros y chocolate!

Córdoba is more than just churches, palaces, monuments and museums. It is a very special place and a day or two spent wandering its tiny streets, relaxing in its beautiful little squares, drinking in its traditional old bars and dining in its fine restaurants is time very well spent.

Holiday villas

Holiday villas within two hours drive of Cordoba

  • ZS 16 - Sleeps 6

    This delightfully restored house is on the edge of the small village of Fuente del Conde, in a truly privileged setting. A choice of Individually styled terraces offer a multitude of ambiences, whatever your mood, whatever the time of day ... or night.

    from 1,230€ to 2,190€

  • ZM 24 - Sleeps 4 or 7

    Perched on a hill within a typically Andalusian setting of rolling hillsides bedecked with olive and cork oak, all is totally peaceful here. Inside, this refurbished country house is spacious and comfortable. A few exotic touches here and there add to its lovely rural charm.

    from 1,150€ to 1,490€

  • ZX 16 - Sleeps 8

    This secluded villa is a real rural getaway. Surrounded by rolling arable countryside, under a big sky, peace and privacy are assured. The English owners are farmers and it was natural that when they were looking for an Andalucían retreat, they chose to buy seven acres of land in the middle of wonderful countryside.

    from 1,200€ to 1,500€

  • ZM 19 - Sleeps 4 to 10

    A wonderful old flour mill lovingly renovated by the grandchildren of the last miller. The workings of the mill and bakery have been completely restored and the living quarters beautifully converted for comfortable, yet authentically traditional, quality holiday living.

    from 910€ to 2,150€

  • ZM 33 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    This classy villa, in the most delightful of settings achieves an old-time Spanish "hacienda" feel, exuding elegance and grace. The view's fantastic too, across the patchwork of fields below to the mountain ranges of Jaén and Granada far beyond.

    from 680€ to 1,620€

  • ZX 11 - Sleeps 6

    Peace and calm work their magic at this lovely villa. Originally a farmhouse, it has been restored to offer high quality, modern comfort, pretty gardens and a fabulous pool. Set in beautiful countryside, city sights are also within easy reach.

    from 3,240€ to 3,330€

  • ZS 22 - Sleeps 2

    This picturesque little village house, still rustic in style but very attractively refurbished, is in as traditional a pueblo as you will ever find. For a couple looking for a base in the heartland of Andalucía and a bit of genuine local lifestyle, this could be just the place.

    from 550€ to 590€

  • ZM 34 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    This recently finished, quality holiday home enjoys a completely authentic, rural Andalusian setting, a great place just to ´be´. Great views, charm, comfort, quality furnishings and excellent facilities compliment the peaceful, unhurried lifestyle.

    from 1,110€ to 1,220€

  • ZS 15 - Sleeps 2

    Set amongst rolling hills on the edge of the Subbética Natural Park, this lovely little cottage is a fabulous holiday hideaway for a couple. Here you will enjoy sun, views and sunsets to the full. A great place just to relax, it's also an ideal base for exploring the treasures of Andalucía.

    from 550€ to 590€

  • ZX 37 - Sleeps 6

    More than 100 years old, this Hispano-Moorish farmhouse has been beautifully restored. It now offers everything you need for a perfect holiday: richly planted gardens, extensive grounds, a gorgeous infinity pool, amazing views and an immaculately furnished interior.

    from 1,300€ to 1,560€

  • ZX 18 - Sleeps 4

    Rolling hills of open farmland spread out before you, the massive crags of El Torcal rear up in the distance, and little birds fly out from the verges as you drive along. The house was a goat herder's ruin but the owners loved this area so much, they knew that this was their dream cottage.

    from 1,410€ to 1,560€

  • ZS 11 - Sleeps 12

    You can't fail to be grabbed by a sense of adventure as you approach. Embraced by a beguiling Mediterranean garden this family home couldn't be more perfect for getting you way off the tourist-beaten track and to the heart of that much-touted 'Real Spain'.

    2,400€

  • ZS 14 - Sleeps 8

    Tourists who bypass this region are missing out because the landscape here is nothing short of spectacular. Specifically designed to be inclusive, this bright villa is suitable for wheelchair users, families with children and all who want to experience a stunning part of Andalucía.

    from 1,500€ to 2,330€

  • ZS 23 - Sleeps 18 to 24

    Now a fabulous, interior-designed villa for a group of friends or family wishing to holiday together, this superbly restored olive mill is unique, a wonderful place to stay. In the heart of Andalucía, here you are perfectly placed to visit the great cities, beaches, mountains and ski slopes.

    from 3,830€ to 4,860€

  • ZS 12 - Sleeps 8

    Set amongst rolling hills on the edge of the Subbética Natural Park, this attractive, Mediterranean-style villa is a great place for a relaxing holiday. It's also right in the centre of Andalucia, perfect for exploring its many treasures.

    from 1,170€ to 1,530€

  • ZM 30 - Sleeps 4 or 8

    A lovely old farmhouse set in rolling hills to the west of Granada. Furnished with antiques and old curios passed down through generations, it successfully recreates the authentic atmosphere of days gone by.

    from 650€ to 1,220€

  • ZX 19 - Sleeps 4

    This house was, not so long ago, a humble shepherd´s house. No longer! Now it is a cheerful holiday home which still retains that 'rustic feel' which an old property like this deserves. In a fantastic location in the heart of Andalucía the countryside all around is fabulous.

    from 730€ to 1,260€

  • ZM 10 - Sleeps 6 & 2 children

    A classic farmhouse now reborn as a top quality, thoroughly modern home. Set in a glorious pastoral scene with lovely views over rolling, olive dotted hillsides. Ideal for lazy summer holidays by the pool, or an out of season break - the time for walking, cycling or riding to explore this historical landscape.

    from 1,230€ to 1,980€

  • ZM 26 - Sleeps 6

    A rustic farmhouse which has been renovated with care and skill, the location is superb, a paradise of silence amidst hills carpeted in olive trees. Sweeping views encompass the three provinces of Granada, Córdoba and Málaga. Everything is as it should be in a rural Andaluz cottage.

    from 780€ to 1,080€

More photos

More photos of Cordoba

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