We had left Barcelona at around 8:30am via High-Speed rail and finally arrived in Córdoba around 1:00pm. The first thing on our itinerary was to pick up our car rental… yep we were going to brave driving in a foreign country.
The plan was to pick up an automatic vehicle at the Córdoba train station. But of course nothing really ever goes exactly to plan and we ended up with a 5-speed manual. Things were getting more and more interesting by the minute. Now up till then, it had been a good 5 years since I’d driven a stick, but like riding a bike, it all came back to me in an instant.
So we packed up our tiny Opel Corsa and headed towards our Air BnB, which was super close to the old city. What we didn’t know this would mean was that the roads would get tighter and tighter… Luckily our host had given us great directions and before we knew it, we were unloaded, in our room, and armed with a plan to explore the city!
La Judería (Old Jewish Quarter)
Luckily, our AirBnB was super cose to the Old City Center, which meant everything was within a 15 minute walk. So the first thing that we did was walk toward La Judería, also known as the Old Jewish Quarter.
The very first thing hat stood out to us was the amazing aroma that filled the air. We didn’t realize it at the time, but every street was lined with fully matured and blossoming Bitter Orange trees. The scent from their blossoms was intoxicating and stood as a constant reminder of my grandmother. I truly felt like she was with us at every turn.
As we continued our way towards the city center, we passed many shops and even had opportunities to stop in and speak to the merchants. Leather-makers, lute-makers, and herbalists eagerly welcomed us into their shops- and each shop themselves were filled with such aromas. The leather shop smelled like hides and tannin, the herbal shop smelled like exotic tea, and the lute shop smelled like old gourds and saw dust.
Festival de Los Patios
Córdoba is the only place in the world that is home to Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Great Mosque, The Medina Azahara, The Historic Center, and The Festival of Courtyards/Patios.
I’d like to take a minute to talk about the courtyards and patios, because they are quite impressive- and we weren’t even there during the most impressive time of year!
What stood out to me most as we walked through the city center was how beautiful every courtyard was, even more impressive was how gorgeous the floral arrangements and landscaping were. It became known to us that there is a festival every May where residents line the walls of the city in hanging vases filled with flowers. We got a small glimpse of this and could not imagine how breath taking it would be to see it in full bloom.
Palacio de Viana
In keeping with the Patio theme, I’m going to break from the timeline and jump to the very last thing that we did while in Córdoba, The Palacio de Viana.
The Palace of Viana is an aristocratic palace that dates back to the 15th century and the reason that I am jumping to it now is because if you appreciate the Patios of the historic city center, then you will drool over the grounds at this amazing palace.
Overall there are 12 different patios, decorative fountains, pebbled pathways, and one amazing labyrinth. We managed to visit during golden hour and the sun was even gracious enough to greet us before tucking behind the clouds once more. This is a must do if you’re ever in Córdoba.
The Historic City Center
One of Four UNESCO sites in Córdoba, the historic city center is filled with beautiful architecture that dates back to the 1st century. During our first day, we spent most of our time walking through the city streets, popping into shops, and rounding out our walk at the Roman Bridge.
The Roman Bridge turned out to be an unexpected treat. Along the walk there were various street artists and we were even given am impromptu birding lesson from a couple of birding hobbyists. The view from the south side of the bridge towards the old city center was gorgeous, though the wether had started making a change for the worse. You might be able to see rain clouds moving in as we prepared for our second day in the city.
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
Our second day in Córdoba started off dreadfully rainy, though we weren’t going to let hat dampen our spirits… pun intended!
We started at the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. We opted for a tour and I’m glad that we did- if anything for all of the information that we gleaned about the Andalusian region. Like most of the buildings in Córdoba, the Alcázar belonged to the Moors before being conquered by the Spanish in the 1200s.
The weather did make for a less-than-ideal visit, simply because we weren’t able to enjoy the outdoor gardens as much as we had hoped. However, because of the rain, there was a visual drama and grit that the landscape took on. The Alcázar was gorgeous, despite the weather though and we loved walking through the Hall of Mosaics. It seemed surreal to believe that such pieces of art could last for centuries.
La Mezquita (The Great Mosque)
After we finished our visit at the Alcázar, we stopped to fill up on coffee and met up with the same tour guide from the Alcázar!
I won’t go into too much detail about La Mezquita, because I have a full blown blog post in the works that talks all about it, but I will say this: IT WAS AMAZING.
Hello! My name is Damian.
This is my blog and these are my travels! I have been lucky enough to see so many great wonders of the world- and still so many left to see! I’d love to hear from you, even if it’s just to give me an idea on where to travel to next. Feel free to drop me a line any time you’d like.