Classic Córdoba


Córdoba is a beautiful city, marked by different cultures over the years and situated on the River Guadalquivir at a point where it is no longer navigable. It has the reputation for having the highest summer temperatures in Spain and is famous for its great monuments lincluding the Mesquita/Mosque, and a lovely old Jewish centre. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city began as a small village in the Copper Age (3500-2300 BC). In 161 BC the Romans established a permanent camp on the banks of the river and two centuries later it competed in magnificence and importance with Rome itself. There was a large Forum, the usual walls and gateways, and a bridge, the Puente Romano across the river. It was during this time that the famous Córdoba Treasure was buried, and is now housed in the British Museum.

The following two pictures are from the wall in a Visitor Centre on the far side of the river. The first is a plan of the Roman town, the second shows the Forum.

Cordoba had at least 5 squares. The oldest, the Forum, existed around the mid 2nd century.
The Forum was the centre of administrative and civic activity.

The present main gateway – an 18th century replacement. Alongside it are remnants of the original, Roman wall:


Here are a couple of photos of the bridge and river today:



After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Moors arrived in Spain in 711 and Córdoba became their headquarters. By the 10th century it had become the richest and most sumptuous city in the known world, with many libraries, medical schools and universities.

The previous picture also shows the islands downstream of the Roman Bridge. Today these are inhabited only by birds, but the remnants of flour mills can be seen on some of them. One larger mill, still with its wheel, is located close the the bank and is known as the Albolafia Water Wheel.


Built by Abd al-Rahman II ( (731–788) to pump water up to the Emir’s Alcazar/Palace, it lasted until the 15th century when it was dismantled on the orders of Queen Isabella (Isabel La Católica, wife of King Ferdinand). She claimed she didn’t like the sound of the noisy chains so close to the Palace.

One of the main, Moorish attractions in the town is the great Mezquita-Cathedral, or simply La Mesquita. This is a view of it taken from the Roman bridge.


The site on which the Mezquita stands has long been a sacred place. First a Roman temple then a Visigoth Christian church occupied the site, and after the Moorish occupation, the building was initially used by both Muslims and Christians. This arrangement stopped when Caliph Abd al-Rahman I purchased the Christian half. He had the entire building demolished in order to build the Great Mosque. Its construction lasted for over two centuries.

These photos inside the Mezquita show the wonderful Moorish design. The first two show the hypostyle hall (hypostyle meaning filled with columns).


022It was difficult to get close enough for a good photo at the next site, but besides the sparkling gold work are dark blues, reddish browns and yellows:

The Mihrab, the famous horseshoe-arched prayer niche. Mihrabs are used in a mosque to denote the wall that faces Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The Mihrab, the famous horseshoe-arched prayer niche. Mihrabs are used in a mosque to denote the wall that faces Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

In 1236, Cordoba was taken by the Christians and, for a while, the building again served both Christains and Muslims. In the 16th century it officially became the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption. It is right in the centre of the mosque, and it seem odd going through one to the other. However, it’s undoubtedly a magnificent and ornate affair.




Today, Córdoba is a thriving modern city, the seat of one of the most powerful universities in Andalucía and the centre of communication between the higher and lower parts of the region. Unfortunately, this was not even an overnight stop for us, and we had only four hours here to see as much as possible and grab some lunch. We spent a while wandering around the tiny, narrow streets in the Jewish quarter, where most of the ‘eateries’ are but didn’t have time to visit the Alcazar (palace). I suppose there’s always a next time…