Cordoba is not a city that’s easy to forget. From the winding cobblestone alleys of the Jewish Quarter to the whitewashed walls of the houses around the old town that seemingly paints a cooler picture to the sizzling summer heat, this is a town that takes the slow lane and is mighty proud of it.
the ceiling of the mezquita in cordoba
The city is a popular pit stop for those doing the Andalucia circuit. But it’s a shame that this is mostly relegated to just a few hours’ stop. Busloads of tourists come here for just one reason, and that is to see the magnificent Mezquita of Cordoba. Personally, this was also my primary reason not just for coming to Cordoba but for going on this 2-week trip across the Iberian peninsula.
typical white-washed houses in cordoba
We decided to stay there overnight, which on hindsight was just right. We stayed in a hotel (highly recommended!) just beside the Mezquita and many of the sights in the old town can be explored by foot. Aside from the mezquita itself, there are no other must-see sights in Cordoba in my opinion, but it sure is a great idea to spend a couple of hours getting lost in the Jewish Quarter. It is lined by tons of (dime-a-dozen) souvenir shops, restaurants (some are great, others are tourist traps) as well as homes of real people. We saw a lot of vende (for sale) signs which again reminded us about the great Spanish recession. It seemed to have devastated Cordoba.
Like Salamanca, Cordoba also has a dramatic river-bridge-cathedral setting which is picturesque at night. The bridge I am talking about is the Puente Romano which we crossed just for the heck of it. I only discovered later that the bridge is actually more than 2,000 years old. And yet it is still functional to this day, albeit for pedestrian purposes only.
assumption day procession in cordoba
We happened to be in Cordoba during Assumption Day and we witnessed a religious procession later that evening. There was a parade consisting of people from the church as well as church-goers and schoolchildren. It actually reminded me of the processions that we have in the Philippines, and it’s great to see how they do it in the country of origin. Despite the hundred plus years since Spain left, the religious practice still remains virtually the same.
on the way to the mezquita
We went to see the Mezquita the following morning. Here’s a tip – if you enter from 8:30 to 10 in the morning, you don’t need to pay the Eur 8 admisson. The early morning visit brings about another benefit, and that’s in the way of less crowds. One gets to appreciate the place better this way.
inside the mezquita: arches and columns close together… typical islamic features
impressive islamic inspired ceiling
in contrast, this is the ceiling of the cathedral which is located in the same building
The mezquita is nothing short of spectacular, and despite having visited several mosques before, I was still wow-ed over the architectural details inside. The building itself has served various purposes over its more than 1000 year history. It originated as a pagan temple, then became a Christian church. When the Moors took over much of Spain, the building was converted to a mosque. Following the Reconquista, it was converted into a Catholic church. Despite the change in religions during the course of the building’s history, I would say that there are just two religions which are more apparent in the building’s interiors today and that’s Islam and Catholicism. The central part of the building as well as the chapels are very much similar to many of the churches in Spain. But everything else is heavily Islamic. From the ceilings to the arches, columns and down to the obvious-looking mihrab, huge sections of the building could easily hold as a mosque.
plaza de la tendillas during blue hour
Cordoba is not a particularly large city. Aside from the tourist-filled old town, the only other happening area is Plaza de la Tendillas. It is primarily a commercial area filled with your usual H&M, Zara and fast food chains. There are fewer tourists here, especially by night and it’s a great place to people watch and see what the locals do during the evenings. Compared to Seville, I didn’t sense that much of a night life scene here though I could be wrong.
After spending one night in Cordoba, it was once again time to head to the train station for our next destination – Ronda. By this time, Spain was becoming more and more familiar to me, from the food to the culture to people’s mannerisms and even the architecture to an extent. I came here expecting that since I was in Europe, I would be getting that same feeling I had when I last visited the continent 15 years ago. To clarify, Spain is as European as any EU country and certainly everything reflected this. But I suppose it’s because the Spanish culture was already built into my psyche so everything easily seemed too familiar. And in that sense, my trip to Spain, or to be more specific, the Andalucian leg, was a departure from many of the trips I’ve taken in recent years. Rather than to see a totally new place with no previous experience of it, Andalucia seemed like a trip that I had prepared myself for since birth.
Where I stayed:
The Hostal Posada los Alcazares is an excellent option in Cordoba. Situated just next to the mezquita, it is within walking distance to many of the sights and comes at an unbelievably cheap price. We paid around Eur 55 for a triple.
C/Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 68
Tel. 957 497 983