Choose from 12 Fun Things to Do in Cordoba
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Cordoba’s Plaza de Tendillas sits in the very heart of Cordoba and at the crossroads between the older part of town and the relatively newer modern one. Its construction dates back to the 1920s, when it was built to be used as a central meeting place in the big southern city.
Nowadays, the almost entirely pedestrian-only square is home to various events, including protests, markets and celebrations. Arguably its biggest celebration is New Year’s Eve, which is marked by the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes in sync with the midnight strikes of the clock — which, here in Cordoba, are always marked by the musical strums of a flamenco guitarist rather than the sound of bells. Come to the plaza to check out the famous El Gran Capitan statue (erected in honor of the famous military commander Gonzalo de Cordoba), to people watch while having a drink al fresco, and, during summertime, to cool off in the geyser-like fountains especially loved by the kids.
Given Plaza de las Tendillas’s central location, it also happens to be a hub of city transport. As such, while here, take advantage of the public bus lines, or enjoy Cordoba more easily by joining a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which makes a stop in the plaza. Note that there is also a tourism office in the square.
Address: Plaza de las Tendillas, Cordoba, Andalucia 14002, Spain
From $ 29
Originally the site of the Christian Visigoth Church San Vicente dating back to AD 600, Cordoba’s Mosque–Cathedral (Mezquita de Cordoba) stands as the city's most proud monument and one of the most exquisite Islamic structures in the Western world. Learn about its rich history while taking in the 850 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite.
Most city tours make a stop at the popular Mosque–Cathedral of Cordoba. Guided tour options range from an hourlong history tour focused on the cathedral and former mosque to a half-day walking tour with stops at other Cordoba monuments such as the Castle of Catholic Monarchs (Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos) and the ancient synagogue of the Jewish Quarter. Others visit the Mezquita on a day trip from Seville, Granada, or Costa del Sol.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Mezquita is a must-see for history buffs, architecture lovers, and all first-time visitors to Cordoba.
- Choose a daytime tour, night visit, or entrance to the bell tower.
- Audio guides are available in several languages, including English, for an extra fee.
- The cathedral is wheelchair accessible; disabled toilets and wheelchairs are both available.
- As a functioning holy site, hats and head coverings are not permitted within the cathedral, and visitors should dress appropriately.
How to Get There
Located in the heart of Cordoba, you can access the Mezquita via its Orange Tree Courtyard (Patio de los Naranjos), which is free to enter. The easiest way to get there is by taking bus lines 3 or 12 to the Puerta del Puente stop.
When to Get There
The Mosque–Cathedral is open daily, and bell tower tours depart every 30 minutes. If you’d like to attend a mass, plan to visit in the morning Monday to Saturday or in the early afternoon Sunday.
The Soul of Cordoba
Night visits, officially called The Soul of Cordoba, include an hourlong light and sound show detailing the history and religious significance of the building and its religious art, as well as a tour of the monumental site.
Address: Calle del Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003, Cordoba, Spain
Hours: Summer: Mon-Sat: 10am-7pm Winter: Mon-Sat: 8:30am-6pm Sun/Holidays: 8:30-10am and 2-6pm
Admission: Adults: €10, Child: €5
From $ 17
Sprinkled across the Spanish Peninsula, you'll come across Jewish Quarters known as juderías. In Córdoba, which was once considered the most populous city in the world, the Jewish community especially thrived, and now its ancient neighborhood of white buildings is considered one of the most famous juderías in Spain.
The Jewish community indeed played an important role culturally in the history of the Iberian Peninsula. During the Moorish Caliphate -- the period of Islamic rule over Spain which ended in 1031 -- the Jewish community flourished as Córdoba rose as a center for commerce, prosperity, education and religious tolerance.
Of course, in 1492 during the Spanish Inquisition, people of Jewish faith and the religion itself were expelled from Spain, their neighborhoods becoming only artifacts of their presence in the country's history. Among Córboba's Jewish Quarter's most famous sites is undoubtedly the synagogue, one of just three of its kind in Spain that survived the Inquisition (the other two are located in the city of Toledo), and the only one in all of Andalucia.
Also located in the barrio's small streets is Casa Sefarad, a cultural project dedicated to telling the story of Judeo-Spanish history in Spain. Within its walls, you can visit five different rooms, featuring Sephardic music, handicrafts and other cultural artifacts.
While wandering the small streets, keep an eye out for the statue of Maimónides, the famous Jewish doctor and philosopher, and peruse the jewelry and silversmith shops, for which the neighborhood is renowned.
The Jewish Quarter is situated just to the north and west of the Mezquita, reaching as far west as Puerta de Almodóvar, and east to Calle El Rey Heredia.
Address: Barrio Judío 14001, Cordoba, Spain
From $ 17
The Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, a new UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to the mid-10th century, when it served as the seat of power for the Umayyad dynasty in Córdoba. When the caliphate ended after a civil war in 1010, the city was laid to waste and forgotten until its rediscovery in the early 20th century.
There’s no better place to learn about Spain’s medieval caliphate than the ruins of this royal Moorish city, a popular excursion from nearby Córdoba. During a typical tour of the grounds, visitors explore the remains of palaces, ceremonial halls, mosques, and workshops that make up the largest archaeological site in Spain. An on-site museum and interpretation center showcase artifacts from the excavated site.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Medina Azahara is a must-visit for history buffs and those interested in Spain’s Moorish past.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat; not all areas of the site are shaded.
- Give yourself two to three hours to explore the museum and archaeological site.
How to Get There
To get to the interpretive center, catch a public bus from Avenida Alcazar in the Córdoba city center, or drive along the A-431 motorway. A shuttle takes visitors from the parking lot and interpretive center to the archaeological site itself, situated a couple of miles away.
When to Get There
The museum and archaeological site are open from Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year, with extended hours during high season (April through June). Expect temperatures as high as 100°F (38°C) during July and August.
Levels of Medina Azahara
This Moorish city was built on a gentle hill in three tiers, each with its own purpose. On the lowest level, you’ll find the mosque and homes of much of the city’s population. Many of these structures remain unexcavated. The second level comprised government buildings and a public garden. The top level—and the level with the best views—was the royal palace and residence of Abd ar-Rahman III.
Address: Carretera de Palma del Río, Cordoba, Spain
From $ 20
Located in an old hospital, you will find one of Córdoba's most famous museums, Museo Julio Romero de Torres, which features the art of its namesake, one of Spain's most revered painters.
Essentially a portrait artist, Córdoba native Julio Romero de Torres was born in 1874 into a world surrounded by art, thanks to his father, an impressionist artist and also the founder and director of the Fine Arts Museum. During his career, Torres studied and worked in Madrid, traveled around Europe and to Argentina, and was influenced largely by impressionism and realism. Ultimately, he became known for his symbolist style, with many of his pieces featuring sensual images of Cordoban women.
The museum, which was dedicated to his memory after his death by his family, contains six salons, and is home to the largest collection of Torres' work. Beyond his own pieces, the galleries also house the art of other famous baroque, renaissance and contemporary painters, such as Francisco de Zurburán, Valdés Leal and Alejo Fernández.
Among the museum's rooms, you can view famous pieces like Torres' Marta and Maria, The Portrait of Love and The Poem of Cordoba, and many others. Various personal effects are also on display, such as Torres' paintbrushes, palettes and even his guitar.
Address: Plaza del Potro, 1, 14002, Cordoba, Spain
Hours: Tues: 2:30-8:30pm; Weds-Sat: 9am-8:30pm; Sun/Holidays: 2:30pm
Admission: Adults: €8; Child: €4
From $ 181
Courtyards and Córdoba go together like a cold glass of gazpacho and a sizzling Spanish day. And few places will give you a better look at these famous southern patios than Cordoba's Viana Palace.
Often known as the Museum of Patios, the Renaissance palace is famously home to 12 different courtyards, but also centuries of history, as it was originally built in the 14th century, and lived in, enlarged, and modified until the 1900s. As such, it provides a unique look at an evolution of architectural influence, décor, and aristocratic life.
Of course, the courtyards are what give Viana Palace its fame and make it especially representative of its home city. These patios, especially common in Córdoba, are influenced by Roman and Arabic tradition, and defined by their central location within the interior of homes and buildings. Over the centuries they have served as the heart of family and social life, and provided a cool respite from the often-suffocating summer heat thanks to their shade and abundance of plants and fountains.
At the Viana Palace, expect to find some of Córdoba's most luxurious patios, filled with gardens, bubbling fountains, and pebbly mosaic-filled flooring. Beyond marveling at its famous courtyards, a visit to the palace also allows visitors to peruse its interior, which includes salons filled with frescoes, a library of 7,000 books, and Flemish tapestries, among many other treasures.
Address: Plaza de Don Gome, 2 14001, Cordoba, Spain
Hours: September-June: Tues-Fri: 10am-7pm; Sat/Sun/Holiday: 10am-3pm; July-August: Tues-Sun: 9am-3pm
Admission: Complete visit: €8, Only courtyards: €5
From $ 14
Situated in what was once part of an archbishop's palace, Tablao El Cardenal is the most-coveted spot in Córdoba to catch one of Spain's most beloved art forms.
Indeed the south of Spain is steeped in a history of flamenco, as it is believed that this is where the tradition originated. Consisting of clapping, guitar playing, singing and of course dancing, tablaos -- places where flamenco is performed -- are the ideal venue to become acquainted with the soulful tradition.
Just meters away from the Mezquita, in the city's Jewish Quarter, the 25-year-old Tablao El Cardenal offers what is considered the best of Cordoban flamanco in a ultra-traditional setting. During fall and winter, the shows take place in the indoor auditorium, meanwhile in spring and summer, they move to the courtyard, so emblematic of this southern city of patios.
The hour-and-a-half to two-hour performances typically include several different dancers, who perform alongside guitarists and singers. The show also features various types of flamenco from different time periods, ranging from sevillanas to allegrías, seguilladas, and more.
As the most popular destination in the city for flamenco, it's a good idea to book tickets well in advance, not only because they sell out, but also because you can ensure a better table (the closer to the stage, the better!).
Address: Calle de Torrijos, 10, 14003, Cordoba, Spain
Hours: Mon-Sat: 10:30pm - 12am
Admission: General: €23
From $ 27
Córdoba doesn't just have a Grand Mosque, but also a palace: the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. Once the site of a Visigoth fortress, it was ultimately rebuilt to house the caliphs of Córdoba, before being taken over by the Christians. Once in their hands, the palace was famously home to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel for eight years during the Spanish Inquisition. During that time, it was even visited by Christopher Columbus, who came to explain plans for his westward journey to the Catholic Kings.
The palace has gone through various rounds of re-buildings and modifications, with today's structure maintaining little of the Moorish one that stood before it. Even so, the present-day Alcázar still has a Moorish flavor, given the Múdejar style of design and architecture implemented under King Alfonso XI.
Since its time as a royal palace, it served as a prison, before ultimately being turned into a tourist attraction in the 1900s. Now, during a visit to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, you can wander its premises, enclosed by a fortress of jagged-topped walls, punctuated by four towers. Most popular are the gardens, filled with palm trees, fish-filled ponds, cascading fountains, and statues of the famous Catholic Kings.
The Alcázar is located on the southwest side of the city, just north of the Guadalquiver River, and only a short walk away from the Grand Mosque. Entrance is free Tuesday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 am and 10 am
Address: Campo Santo de los Martires, San Basilio, Cordoba, Spain
Hours: Tues-Sat: 10am-2pm & 5:30-7:30pm; Sun/Holiday: 9:30am-2:30pm
Admission: General Public: €4, free on Friday
From $ 1
Toledo is known and admired for historically having been a city of three religions – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and for that reason, its Jewish quarter is especially important and admired. Home to sweet tiny streets and loads of souvenir shops, the neighborhood also holds some of Toledo’s greatest history, which can be learned about and experienced by visiting many of its sights.
Such sights include the Jewish quarter’s two remaining synagogues: Santa Maria la Blanca, which was built for the Jews by Moors during Christian rule, and El Transito, with its Sephardic Museum that features a wealth of information on Toledo’s Jewish history. Don’t miss other important stops in the Jewish quarter, such as the Santo Tomé Church and its famous El Greco painting; the School of Translators, to which Jewish scholars made very important contributions; the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes with its impressive church and garden-filled cloister; and the Casa del Judio, where you can learn about and see a Jewish home from those times.
The Jewish quarter is located on the western and southwestern part of Toledo’s old town. You can gain discounted access to many of the neighborhood’s sights by investing in a pulsera turística (tourist wristband). Wristbands can be purchased at attraction entrances.
Address: Old Town, Toledo, Spain
From $ 28
Located in the heart of Córdoba's Jewish Quarter, and just blocks away from the Mezquita, sits one of Spain's most unique connections to the past: the Synagogue of Córdoba.
Constructed in the 14th century, Córdoba's synagogue is the Judería's (Jewish Quarter's) main attraction and is one-of-a-kind in the Andalucía region. This is because, while the Jewish community once played a very key role on the Iberian Peninsula -- especially during the Moorish Caliphate -- much of Jewish culture was eradicated and expelled in 1492 during the Spanish Inquisition. As a result, Córdoba's synagogue and two others in the city of Toledo remain as the only lasting structures of their kind from pre-Inquisition Spain.
The small Córdoba synagogue houses a courtyard, prayer room and women's gallery. With a humble brick exterior, the small interior features walls with intricate Hebrew inscriptions, scalloped archways and Mudéjar plasterwork, reminiscent of the ivory-colored carvings you might see in the Alcázar of Seville or even the textured facades of the Alhambra Palace.
After serving as a place of worship (which ended, of course, with the Spanish Inquisition), the once-synagogue had various functions: from that of a hospital to a chapel and even a school. Now, it is open to the public as a museum, providing a rare look into the Jewish culture's presence in Spanish history.
The synagogue is open every day of the week except Mondays, and is free to enter for European citizens, and only €0.30 for everyone else. It’s quite small, and located near the Grand Mosque; therefore worth the quick visit.
Address: Calle de los Judíos, 20, 14004, Cordoba, Spain
Hours: Tues-Sat: 9:30am-2pm and 3:30-5:30pm; Sun/Holiday: 9:30am-5:30pm
Admission: General: €0.30, EU members: free
From $ 40
Back in the 10th century, Cordoba was home to as many as one million residents and up to 600 Moorish bathhouses, the latter a true symbol of the southern Spanish city's importance in those times. Once serving as the bathhouse of the caliphs, Cordoba's Alcazar Califal Baths are among the very few that still remain today. In fact, they spent centuries hidden until in 1961 they were rediscovered and restored.
The hammam, as this type of Arab bathhouse is often called, consists of various rooms, most notably, in the Califal Baths' case, the cool room. Back in its day, it had the most elaborate features, and is where the caliphs would spend most of their time bathhouse time. The cool and hot rooms displayed typical hammam characteristics such as the star-windowed ceilings and horseshoe-shaped arches, both elements that you can still see today. During your visit you can explore these serene spaces, as well as learn more during an informative introductory video.
The venue is rather small and can therefore be visited fairly quickly. Note that the baths are free to enter from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday. They are located just over a block away from the Mosque-Cathedral, but keep your eyes peeled, as they may go easily unnoticed given they are situated below ground.
Address: Plaza Campo de los Santos Mártires, Cordoba, Andalucia 14004, Spain
Hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-8:45 p.m.; Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Admission: General: €2.50; reduced: €1.25; children 13 and under: free
From $ 20
Several bridges traverse the Guadalquiver River as it weaves through the southern Spanish city of Córdoba, but one is more special than the others: the Roman Bridge, or Puente Romano.
Constructed in the early first century BC by the Romans, this ancient structure may have even been preceded by an earlier wooden bridge. In fact, it is believed that the ancient Roman road Via Augusta passed over its foundation, connecting Rome to Cádiz in the south of Spain. Since those early times, the Roman Bridge has been reconstructed many times, and heavily so by the Moors in the 10th century, when it was extended to what you see today.
Each end of the structure is anchored by two towers, which were built during Islamic rule in the Middle Ages. The Calahorra Tower sits to the south, and then the Puerta del Puente to the north (which was reconstructed in the 16th century), beyond which you will find the Grand Mosque, or Mezquita. Midway across the span resides a statue of San Rafael, the patron saint of Córdoba, and where devout Catholics stop to pray or light a candle.
Until 2004, cars were allowed to cross the bridge, but now it is strictly used for pedestrians only. Today’s Puente Romano, with its 16 arcades, spans 247 meters, is 9 meters wide, and has certainly seen centuries of history travel across its back.
The Roman Bridge is located just south of the Mezquita, or Grand Mosque, and also only steps away from the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.
From $ 17