If you plan to visit Cordoba, then a trip to La Mezquita (The Great Mosque) is a must. So beautiful and unique is this Mosque that King Charles V, after the Reconquista, deeply regretted having approved construction of a Cathedral in its main prayer hall. It was built in the 8th and 9th century by Caliphs to serve as a reminder of the Grand Mosque in Damascus and speaks to an age when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived harmoniously side by side. Now, it is a vestige of the Moorish rule and a showcase of some of the most exquisite Islamic architecture in the world. Inside La Mezquita’s vast halls is the famed arcaded hypostyle hall and the gilded Mihrab, a masterpiece covered in elegant, gold Kufic calligraphy. Preceding the Mosque is a courtyard shaded by Palm, Cyprus and orange trees gently welcoming you into the splendor of its interior. La Mezquita is the crown jewel of things to see in Cordoba.
In the knotted tangle of winding, cobbled streets, a stroll through the Jewish Quarter offers a whole heap of places to visit in Cordoba. To begin with, the atmosphere of a time gone by has seeped into the brick and mortar of the houses that line the narrow network of streets and walking through them is as if to step back in time. Sitting at the center of the quarter, on Calle de Los Judios, is the Synagog of Cordoba which is one of the best preserved Jewish sites in all of Andalusia. Further down in Plaza Maimonides is a statue commemorating Maimonides, the prominent Jewish philosopher. The Casa Sefarad, once connected to the Synagog by a tunnel, is a museum dedicated to showcasing Sephardic tradition. Here, five themed rooms cover everything from food to the prominent Jews of Cordoba and the Inquisition. A walk through the Jewish Quarter offers some of the best Cordoba sightseeing.
While you figure out what to do in Cordoba, head to Plaza de la Corredera for a coffee and a stroll. This lively, vivacious square is a fantastic place to park up and people-watch. Reminiscent of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid (minus the crowds), this 17th-century square has a storied history. It was once used as a space of public spectacle that put on everything from bullfights to circuses and public executions. Now, though, the rectangular plaza is ringed by arched porticos and balconied apartments and every morning host a fresh food market that boasts excellent fish stalls. If you want to get a sense of the city of Cordoba, there are a significant number of cafes and bars that offer up outdoor seating. From here you can sit in the quieter of Cordoba attractions and enjoy a drink in the afternoon sun with your finger well and truly on the pulse of a city.
Undoubtedly Cordoba’s centerpiece is the Unesco World Heritage site, the Mezquita, where Christianity and Islam come together. Caliphs build the monument between the 8th and 9th century as a reminder of the grand mosque in Damascus. Today, it is one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture and one of the top places to visit in Cordoba. A courtyard under the shade of Palm, Cyprus and orange trees provides a lovely introduction to the rolling arches and, in the summer, the soft scent of orange blossom floats through the air.
However, that is not the most curious things about it. Built after the expulsion of the Moors into the Mosque’s main prayer hall by Catholic Monarch’s wishing to assert their religious superiority, is a Cathedral. A rumor has it that King Charles V much regretted approving its construction, saying of the decision, “you have destroyed something unique in the world.”
To the west is Cordoba’s old Jewish quarter, an area characterized by its narrow streets and walls and balconies festooned with the bright colors of potted flowers. The area is also home to one of only three medieval synagogues left in Spain and the plaza Maimonides, which pays tribute to the Jewish philosopher.
Andalusia is also the Flamenco capital of the world. So, if you are looking for things to do in Cordoba, remember that the place is swarming with flamenco bars. When night falls, wind your way down to Tabla Flamenco Cardenal for a show before heading to any of the city’s other lively bars.