Cordoba, Spain

La Mezquita interior, the Great Mosque of Cordoba and its 856 columns, Andalusia, Spain

La Mezquita, the Great Mosque of Cordoba and a few of its 856 columns. Photo by Timor Espallargas.

Why visit Cordoba, Andalucia?

Córdoba is a charming little old city in southern Spain’s Andalusia region that has seen a remarkable number of religious changes over the last 2, 000 years, from Roman to Visigoth to Islamic and finally Christian, with remnants of these cultures still to be found around the town. The main attraction is this spectacular structure, La Mezquita.

La Mezquita's spectacular domed ceiling of Byzantine mosaics in the mihrab, Cordoba, Spain

The mosque’s domed ceiling of Byzantine mosaics in the mihrab. Photo by Ruggero Poggianella.

The site of La Mezquita was originally a Roman temple, replaced by a Christian Visigoth church, bought by Moorish rulers and built over as a mosque from 784 – 987. Many of the column pieces used were recovered from the Roman temple.
When King Ferdinand recaptured Córdoba in 1236 he began converting the mosque into a church. It is now officially the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, though few tourists will recognise the name.

La Mezquita's west exterior wall, Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

The west wall of the Mosque of Cordoba. Photo by Hameryko. The entire centre of Cordoba, Andalusia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cordoba attractions

The Puente Romano over the Guadalquivir River. The Great Mosque is distant right. Photo by Tomas Fano.

The first evidence of settled, developed life in Córdoba is of the empire of Carthage, a short reign around 220 BC (they called the place Kartuba) only to be rudely interrupted by the Romans in 206 BC when they conquered the town, occupying it for hundreds of years before the the Visigoths wandered in, followed shortly after by Muslim Berbers in 711. Today the town layout is basically Roman even if the biggest sight is Islamic.

The Bridge Gate, Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Córdoba’s Bridge Gate. Photo by Tomas Fano.

The Bridge Gate connected the old town to the Roman Bridge and is another much-replaced, culturally-competitive structure. In this case it started out as Roman, morphed into Moorish a few hundred years later and was finally reborn as a renaissance display in 1572.

La Puerte de Almodovar gateway, Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

La Puerta de Almodovar. Photo by Michael Bryan.

The medieval Almodovar Gate gives access to Córdoba’s Jewish quarter and also to a pleasant walk beside the city wall. More remnants of the medieval city are the Sevilla gate, Bridge Gate and Malmuerta Tower. Other bits of wall or gates have disappeared into the foundations of the new city.

More Cordoba attractions

The gardens of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

The gardens of the medieval Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, a fine medieval palace/fortress built mainly by Christian rulers and not far from the Mezquita. Photo by Cristianos003.

After capturing the city from the Muslims in 1236 King Ferdinand of Spain ordered a church building program, mostly on top of mosques.

The stunning interior of the Iglesia de San Jose, Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

The stunningly ornate interior of the Iglesia de San José. Photo by Zarateman.

• elaborate Triumphal Statues beside the Roman Bridge.

• a stylish 14th century Jewish Synagogue at the centre of the Jewish quarter.

• three large water mills along the banks of the Guadalquivir River that propelled streams to the palace or ground grain.

• Medinat al Zahara, the ruins of a magnificent palace complex.

• Banos Califales, stone walls and pillars of 10th century Arabic-style hammam, bathhouses.

Malaga to Córdoba distance: 169 kms. By train or car/bus taking about 2 hours.