With its alluring historic quarter, magnificent Mosque-Cathedral and a historical and cultural legacy like no other, Córdoba is a must-see during any stay in southern Spain. As an Enforex Spanish student, you can sign up for our school-organized weekend trip to Córdoba, where you'll discover the world-famous Mezquita and the enchanting city surrounding it; just swing by the school and sign up!
While the city's earliest history dates back thousands of years, Córdoba's glory days came under Moorish ruler Abd ar-Rahman III, who proclaimed himself the caliph of the Cordoba Caliphate and cemented the caliphate's independence from rule in Baghdad.
The Córdoba Caliphate, at its peak, ruled over the vast majority of the Iberian Peninsula. Córdoba was its most important city, not to mention the biggest city in the western world, and was a center of not only religion but also philosophy, science and art. The city was full of dazzling mosques, beautiful streets and courtyards, observatories, libraries and other institutions dedicated to science and thought. Futhermore, Abd ar-Rahman's court was known for its multicultural diversity, as Christian, Arab and Jewish scholars coexisted and exchanged ideas and knowledge.
Following a period of bad leadership and near-anarchy, the city lost its stability and eventually succumbed in 1236 to the Spanish Reconquest, led at the time by King Fernando of Castile. Córdoba became part of the Spanish kingdom, where it became a provincial town with dwindling importance.
Nowadays, Córdoba is a delightful Spanish city with UNESCO World Heritage status... and it's not hard to figure out why. Spanning out around the Mezquita is Córdoba's wonderful old quarter, a labyrinth of medieval streets winding through whitewashed houses, intimate nooks, tiny squares, patios bursting with plants and blossoms.
What to See on Your Córdoba Trip
Mezquita-Catedral / Mosque-Cathedral
Founded back in 785 over the remains of a Visigoth church, Córdoba's mosque was Islamic Spain's most important place of prayer. Over the following centuries, as Córdoba grew in both importance and population, the mosque was enlarged until reaching the sprawling size we see today. Inside you'll find a veritable forest of columns topped by the mosque's characteristic red-and-white striped arches. The most lavishly decorated parts of the mosque are the maksura and mirhab, the latter incorporating a whopping 1,600 kilograms of golden mosaic cubes. Another interesting part of the complex is the full-blown cathedral that was plopped right into the middle of the mosque in the 16th, a rather symbolic act to show the predominance of Christian Spain.
La Juderia / Jewish District
Extending northwest from the mezquita-catedral is the Judería, long ago the neighborhood of Córdoba's historic Jewish population. Córdoba's Jewish community was a wealthy one, and it shows throughout this picturesque and impeccably-preserved neighborhood of flower-filled patios and whitewashed houses. Here, you'll also find a small 14th-century synagogue, one of Spain's very few surviving synagogues from medieval times. You can view the Hebrew inscriptions and elabroate Islamic patterns as well as the preserved women's gallery upstairs.
Alcázar / Fortress
Just a short walk southwest of the Mezquita you'll find the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs), which was built in the 13th century as a fortress and royal residence for King Alfonso X. While the fortress itself shows signs of its age, the gardens surrounding it are simply spectacular. Full of fragrant orange trees and blooming flowers, fish pond and fountains, the Alcázar gardens are considered to be amongst the most beautiful in Spain.
Puente Romanto / Roman Bridge
While's it's been renovated numerous times, the simple fact is that this bridge has spanned the Guadalquivir River since Roman times. You'll find it just down the street from the Mezquita, next to an old water wheel.