Cordoba: A Trifecta of Culture
As we head out from Seville on a cloudy, rainy day, we are less than convinced about this trip to Cordoba. But, after a couple hours and a coffee stop at our favorite spot "Ines de Rosales" Cordoba greets us with a sunny smile.
This historic city in southern Spain is located (as Sevilla) on the Guadalquivir river, and the Sierra Morena mountain range is nearby. On the Sierra Morena’s eastern side is the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park, a preserve for, among other animals, the rare and endangered lynx.
In ancient times the city of Cordoba was called the city of three cultures. Around 200 BC Roman general Claudius Marcelus settled the area, and less than a century later it became one of the most important colonies of the Roman Empire.
After the fall of the Roman empire, the city was under Byzantine rule, before, in the eighth century it was taken over by Umayyad Arabs. It was then that area became the independent Emirate of Córdoba. This is also the most dynamic period of the city's development. At that time, the city was inhabited not only by Muslims but also by Christians and Jews. In the 13th century during the reconquest of Córdoba, Christian theology dominated, and currently, Córdoba is an industrial, scientific and tourist center.
Córdoba is a perfect day trip from Sevilla by train or car. It takes about an hour in each case...Tourists come to Cordoba see La Mezquita Cathedral (Great Mosque-Cathedral) one of the largest mosques in the world, which was originally a Roman temple, and eventually became a christian church. The story goes that after the fall of the roman empire, the Visigoths built a basilica dedicated to Saint Vincent. After the Moors had captured the city, and the times of the Umayyad Al-Andalus came to and end the temple was transformed into a mosque. It is interesting that this Mosque is not orientated towards Mecca, but rather towards Damascus. The reason may be that Caliph Abderramán I, who came from Damascus, missed his home so much that he asked for this familiar orientation.
After the Reconquista in 1236, a gothic cathedral was constructed in the center of the structure, making this is a sacred place for both Christians and Muslims.
La Mezquita however is not the only destination Córdoba has to offer. Strolling through the narrow streets, we mix with the crowd and breathe in the atmosphere of this place. For Arabian tea we go to the most famous teahouse in the city Salon de Té Cordoba at Calle Buen Pastor 13. The room is full of intense colors, bowls with fruit and beautiful Arabian scallops. I just can not stop photographing this place, and for a moment I think I am in Morocco ... or maybe Casablanca with Huphrey Boggart and Ingrid Bergman ;)
Then we visit Judería - one of the oldest and most fascinating districts. It was built in Roman times, and expanded under Muslim rule.
Walking through the old town of Córdoba, you have the impression that you have fallen into another world...narrow streets, antique shops offering colorful Moroccan shoes, goldsmiths and artisans working on the street...we stop for a moment and admire the work of one artist who creates a bull an important symbol here.
The Alcazar, a fortress left over from the Umayyad reign was rebuilt by Alfonso XI in the years 1327-1328, and later imbued with gardens and turkish baths. Regretfully this beautiful place was the seat of the inquisitorial court during the war with Grenada. There are beautiful gardens with ponds and fountains and Roman mosaics.
As our empty stomachs tell us it is time for tapas, we enter the famous Casa Pepe de la Juderia. We try the local fino while the waiter tells us amazing stories about the life of this restaurant since 1930, and the long history of the building itself.
The most famous event in Córdoba is the Patio festival which happens every May. Spaniards and tourists alike come here for two weeks to admire the most beautiful patios and balconies in the world, all dressed in beautiful and colorful flower arrangements.
The Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba was held for the first time in 1921 when the city council organized the competition. In its early years, the festival was not a huge success, but in the 1950s it began to gain popularity. It was declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest in 1980, and 2012 it became an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity sponsored by Unesco.
This year, the festival will take place from May 1st-13th.
For more information click here
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