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You do not have to look for many excuses to launch yourself to discover (or rediscover) one of the most beautiful cities in Andalusia, but if we have to use one we can hold on to spring as the scenario in which Cordoba displays all its beauty, which is immense. With May and its patios and crossings just around the corner crowding streets and skyrocketing prices, April is presented as the ideal month for a weekend getaway that if extended one more day ends up being perfect.
Not only its mosque, the Jewish quarter or the gardens of the Alcázar, but also its gastronomy are worth a visit to the only city in the world that treasures four declarations of World Heritage Sites: the mosque-cathedral (1984), the historic center that surrounds it (1994), the Fiesta de Los Patios (2012) and Medina Azahara (2018).
"We have a lot of tourism, but the paradox that Cordoba is a great unknown. People usually spend three days to visit Seville, two to see Granada but only one to Cordoba. It is clear that we have not been able to sell ourselves, "complains Rafael Soldevilla, tour guide and owner of Woow Córdoba, a guided tour company with several years of experience.
Following his advice, we started the day with churros for breakfast in the Don Pepe cafeteria, next to the Plaza de Las Tendillas and its clock that marks the hours with the strumming of a soleá, to then visit the Mosque-Cathedral, unique in the world. The temple, of 23,400 square meters and more than 20 centuries of history, came to have capacity for 40,000 faithful. Its interior houses a forest of columns and jewels such as the prayer hall, the maqsura and the mihrab. Its walls summarize the complete evolution of the Umayyad style in Spain, together with the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of Christian construction.
Interior of the Mosque-Cathedral, with its forest of columns. EM
Touring it with a guide is a must if we want to soak up its impressive history. The entrance (without a guide) costs 13 euros but can be accessed for free from Monday to Saturday between 8:30 and 9:30 in the morning. If we go during Holy Week (that of Cordoba has nothing to envy to the Sevillian one), we can coincide with one of the 38 brotherhoods that this year will go out in procession to the main altar of the cathedral.
After the visit, the ideal is to approach the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, 500 meters away, where the Catholic Monarchs lived for 10 years. There they met with Christopher Columbus and organized the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Strolling through its gardens is a sensory experience that can also be enjoyed at night with the light and sound show Nature Ignited: Roots (from 12 euros), one of the last tourist attractions in Cordoba.
The Alcazar of the Christian Kings.EM
We leave the Alcázar to stroll through the Jewish Quarter, which is part of the historic center of the city, where we find the synagogue (built in 1315 in the Mudejar style), the Craft Market (one of the most characteristic spaces of Córdoba) and the Mudejar chapel of San Bartolomé. The street is linked to tapas, because in the Jewish quarter we find taverns with tradition to taste salmorejo, aubergines with honey, artichokes or oxtail. Casa Pepe de la Judería and the Sociedad de Plateros are perfect for an aperitif with a glass of Montilla-Moriles wine and a good tapa. If we prefer a more forceful menu, we can sink our teeth into the Cordoban churrasco, the star dish of the famous inn called El Churrasco.
The croquettes of Taberna Almodóvar are the most famous in Córdoba.EM
To lower the food nothing better than visiting the Ferdinand churches of the city. Cordoba houses 11 of the Christian temples ordered to be erected by King Fernando III El Santo after the conquest of the city in the thirteenth century. Of these, five are essential: the churches of San Lorenzo, Santa Marina, San Pedro, San Pablo and San Miguel. The entrance to these temples, which are about 15 minutes walk between them, is included in the mosque ticket.
The second day is reserved to visit the archaeological site of Medina Azahara, eight kilometers away. You can go by car or shuttle bus, which is free. The city was built at the foot of Sierra Morena by order of Abderramán III, first caliph of Córdoba, to show its power and superiority over its enemies, but ended up devastated by civil wars. The excavations, begun in 1911, have only brought to light 10 of the city's 112 hectares. Medina Azahara is another recommended visit to do with a professional guide.
Terrace of Sojo Fusion, illuminated at night. EM
Back in the capital we booked the afternoon to get to know the famous Cordovan patios and relax in Arab baths (Hammam Al Andalus, in the heart of the historic center, with experiences from 32 euros). Outside the Fiesta de los Patios (this year, from May 2 to 14), there are at least six private patios, with hundreds of pots, open all year round to visit them without the saturation that is lived in the days of the party.
Flamenquín de Taberna La Montillana.EM
Gastronomy is another treasure to discover. It is difficult to eat badly in Córdoba, but if we want to bet on the safe we can drop by Taberna La Montillana (impressive its oxtail and its flamenquín), Taberna Almodóvar (mazamorra and croquettes that are mythical) or Sojo Fusion, more modern and with a spectacular terrace that shines at night. The House of Manolete Bistro, outside the historic center, alone deserves the trip to Cordoba. Andalusian cuisine with Frenchified touches in the palace that the bullfighter gave to his mother and that chef Juanjo Ruiz and his wife, Reme Romero, have turned into a beautiful restaurant with a menu where dishes such as steak tartare or the perfect foie gras with amontillado stand out.
Flamenco at the Posada del Potro, which houses the Fosforito.EM Flamenco Center
Flamenco (El Patio de la Judería, El Cardenal or Baños Árabes de Santa María are some of the essential places to enjoy live shows), as well as the equestrian show of Las Caballerizas Reales, put the finishing touch to this getaway through the Andalusian enclave. If we finally stretch the trip, just 10 minutes by car we find the mountains, with several hiking trails available for all levels, and the castle of Almodóvar del Río (scene of the series Game of Thrones), also highly recommended.
ARRIVE. By AVE from Madrid (1 h and 45 m).
SLEEP. The inn of Sojo. Nineteenth century building in the heart of Cordoba. Lovingly restored, it houses six apartments. From 126 € (laposadadesojo.es).
EAT. The House of Manolete Bistro. Local cuisine with a French touch. Tavern La Montillana. Ideal to enjoy classic dishes such as salmorejo, oxtail and flamenquines with Cordoban wines. Taberna Almodóvar. Mazamorra and croquettes, which are famous. The Churrasco. Specialist in churrasco cordobés. Sojo Fusion. Traditional base market cuisine with innovative touches.
MORE INFO. On the www.turismodecordoba.org website
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