Located in SW Spain, in Andalucia, at the heart of Cordoba Province, 250 mls SE of Madrid, 105 mls NW of Granada. Cordoba is almost 200 mls E of the border with Portugal and 85 mls NE of Seville’s international airport. It is situated astride the River Guadalquivir, largely on the N bank. The Sierra Morena foothills rise to the N; rolling farmland extends to the S.
Capital of Cordoba Province, the city is one of Spain’s most historic, renowned for its wealth of centuries-old architectural monuments and fortifications. The centre measures just 1 ml from N to S and contains an old section dominated by an 8th-century combined mosque/cathedral. Shady patios, cobbled streets and alleys characterise the surrounding Jewish Quarter, more often than not decorated with bright geraniums. Beyond the old city walls (sections of which still remain) lies modern Cordoba, an assembly of nondescript mid-rise residential and commercial buildings concentrated around the railway station.
The area is popular with mature middlemarket visitors drawn by the resort’s history, architecture and archaeological remains. A younger student population swells visitor ranks during holidays. Many Spanish tourists as well as N Europeans and, increasingly, Japanese tour groups.
Accommodation offers mainly middlemarket options, none above 4-stars; very few self-catering choices. Wide choice of pensions, B&Bs and medium-sized hotels in the old town. Some larger, business-orientated properties beyond the city walls.
Shopping options are varied with small souvenir shops in the cobbled streets and alleys of the old Jewish Quarter and around the mosque/cathedral. Modern shops and department stores centred on Avenida Ronda de los Tejares and Bulevar del Gran Capitan. Markets in Plaza Corredera (daily except Sun) and Gran Via Parque (Tues and Fri). Leather goods and ceramics are popular buys; local artisans produce fine silver filigree, paintings and wood carvings, with merchandise often available direct from workshops.
Popular activities here include sightseeing and walking tours around the cobbled streets of the Jewish Quarter; mosque/cathedral; Fortress of the Christian Kings; Roman walls and temples; synagogue (only one in Andalucia); 10th-century Caliphate Baths; 14th-century Viana Palace; museums including Bullfighting Museum (with 19th-century posters), Diocesan Museum (important ecclesiastical works, paintings and sculpture from the 13th to 18th centuries), Archaeological Museum and Fine Arts Museum; balloon flights; horse-drawn carriage rides; zoo; botanical gardens. By night there are lively pubs and clubs in the Jewish Quarter; a few discos near the bullring; flamenco shows; concerts, opera and plays in Gran Teatro.
Gastronomy offers a wide variety of simple cafes and tapas bars serving traditional Spanish dishes, seafood and chicken; charming courtyard tavernas and restaurants serving local recipes including Cordovan pie (puff pastry with candied pumpkin peel and almonds). A few fast-food options exist on the more residential outskirts of town. Most hotel restaurants offer international-style menus. Local beer and wines are good value.
Local excursions consist of full day drives into the surrounding countryside, including national parks in the Sierra Morena foothills, hermitages and the ruins of lavish Villa Azahara; fortress towns in the farmland to the S; dam at Iznajar (good for water sports); Seville. Two days: Madrid.