This World Heritage City was the capital of the independent Umayyad Caliphate of Damascus and became one of the most important political and cultural centres in the world. These days it is very easy to reach, as the high-speed train (AVE) line from Madrid to Malaga stops at Cordoba. The journey takes about an hour and 40 minutes.
A walk around Cordoba seems to move backwards and forwards through history. Take your time and discover its charms gradually, visiting the Great Mosque, strolling around the old Jewish quarter and stopping at spots like the Roman bridge, with splendid views of the city, especially at dusk.
It is also very famous for its courtyards decorated with pots of flowering plants, its 'fiestas', its Arab baths, and for the equestrian shows at the Royal Stables.
The Great Mosque: The Great Mosque of Cordoba is the most important Islamic building in Europe, and one of the most stunning anywhere in the world. It is an amazing experience to be surrounded by 800 marble, jasper and granite columns and 400 red and white ogive arches. You can visit by day or at night to see a sol-et-lumière show.
Ramadan nights: A month-long festival of films, workshops, concerts and exhibitions. The exact dates vary from year to year.
Shopping: Cordoba is an Area of Artisan Interest, making it the ideal place to shop for a souvenir, whether in leatherwork, metalwork, jewellery or ceramics. Ask for directions to the Platería Califal (silver) and Cerámica Califal (pottery).
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos: A fortress and palace which was a favourite spot for the city’s rulers. Part of the former Caliph’s Palace, a walk around its gardens, full of flowers, canals and pools, is quite an experience.
Courtyards (Patios): Cordoba’s courtyards (patios) form a collective World Heritage Site, and one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods to see them is the Alcázar Viejo. Some can be visited year round, but the most special time to see them is during the Courtyard Festival, normally held in the first two weeks of May.
Equestrian show: the Caballerizas Reales (Royal Stables) of Córdoba offer a magical show starring Spanish thoroughbred horses, combining dressage, music and flamenco dancing.
Medina Azahara: this was once a luxurious city which Abd-ar-Rahman III had built in the foothills of the Sierra Morena. Today it is an archaeological complex just eight kilometres from the city of Cordoba, and since 2018, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Festivales and fiestas: the Cordoba Fair is held in late May, a very festive occasion with traditional casetas (bar-booths), sevillana dancing, and riders in traditional costume. June is the time to enjoy flamenco in the city’s streets and squares, with performances and shows organised on the Flamenco White Night. And July brings the Cordoba Guitar Festival.