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Guia grátis sobre Córdoba.

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  1. 1. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 1 Welcome to Cordoba! Cordoba is the eleventh largest city in Spain and ranks third in Andalucía after Seville and Malaga. The city has a population of 328,000 inhabitants and the region reaches about 850,000 if counting all the inhabitants living in the province. Over the years, the city has developed enormously and modern infrastructures have been built to adapt Cordoba to the twenty-first century, including High Speed Train, bike lanes, modern urban buses, a new beltway, wide boulevards… If we take a look back at the History of the city, visitors should know that Cordoba has a unique Historical Legacy. The city was founded by the Roman Empire in 169 BC. Shortly after, Cordoba became one of the most important metropolises of the Roman Empire. In the eighth century Arabs conquered the Iberian Peninsula and the Caliph chose Cordoba to be the capital of the Caliphate of Al-Andalus. Thanks to this strategic decision, Cordoba became one of the most important cities in the World during the Mid Ages. During that time, Cordoba experienced a unique moment in its history: philosophers, theologians, viziers, Kings etc. filled its streets. Souks (markets), huge palaces and public baths were built to meet the needs of a capital as important as Cordoba. The old quarter (Judería) of the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. This certification has helped enormously to preserve part of this amazing historical legacy. In short, if you decide to visit Cordoba you will enjoy fantastic Roman ruins, ancient Arab remains, the beautiful old Jewish quarter and gorgeous catholic churches in a wonderful journey to the past. Whatever you do, wherever you go in Cordoba you will receive a very warm welcome that reveals a tradition of courtesy, respect and hospitality. We hope this travel guide, written by local people, will help you to discover the essence of a city that during thousands of years was one of the most important cities in Europe.
  2. 2. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 2 Editor´s note… … …. Our team is open to new suggestions and comments from all readers. If you wish to contact us you can send an email to: info@mundo- guides.com Mundo Guides assumes no responsibility for changes and errors in the information. Copyright Notice …. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without written permission from the publisher andcopyright owner. Chief Editor Javier Redondo info@mundo-guides.com Layout & Design Javier Redondo Advertising Director Tatiana Benidovskaya advertising@mundo-guides.com Administration Manager Ricardo Molina Arriving 3 Getting Around 4 What to visit 6 Roman Cordoba 7 Islamic Cordoba 9 Christian Cordoba 18 Jewish Cordoba 25 Modern Cordoba 27 Daytrips 33 Gastronomy 40 Where to stay 45 Diputacion Building Priego de Cordoba Museum & Culture 35 Shopping 47 Entertainment 50 Nightlife 51 Useful Information 54 Basic Words 57 Cordoba Mosque
  3. 3. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 3 n recent years Cordoba has developed a remarkable transportation infrastructure and has become one of the best connected cities in Andalusia. All these infrastructure improvements have allowed the city to enter the twenty-first century, boosting business and tourism. By Car Spain has a radial highway design whose epicenter is located in Madrid. The vast majority of these highways are free unlike other European countries. Generally highways in Spain are in a very good state of preservation and are completely safe. The main access to Cordoba is the A4 Highway, also known as Andalusia Highway, which connects the center of Spain (Madrid) with Andalusia. Another important access is the Highway N-432 which connects the cities of Badajoz and Granada, via Cordoba. Time of journey: Madrid: A4 Highway. Duration of trip: 4 hours. Seville: A4 Highway. Duration of trip: 1 hour and 30 minutes. Malaga: N-331 Highway. Duration of trip: 2 hours. By Bus Bus is usually the cheapest option compared to the train or plane. However, the proliferation of low cost airlines is multiplying your options when traveling: you can travel to Seville by plane and from there taking a bus to Cordoba. Generally, bus companies have modern fleets that pass rigorous security checks. Besides, all buses have air conditioning, ample legroom and even Wi-Fi access. Thanks to all this, traveling by bus in Spain is a much more enjoyable experience than a few years ago. Cordoba Bus Station, built in 1999, is situated in front of the Train Station, making pretty easy any transfer between train and bus and vice versa. Socibus is the main bus company operating in Cordoba and connects Madrid with Cordoba for a price about €30 (return ticket). If you need to go directly to the Airport in Madrid, Socibus sells tickets from Cordoba to Madrid-Barajas Airport. Other major destinations are: Barcelona, Cadiz, Bilbao, Benidorm, Malaga, etc. Main bus companies arriving and departing from Cordoba are: Carrera (www.autocarescarrera.es) , Alsa (www.alsa.es), Rafael Ramirez (www.autocaresramirez.es), Socibus (www.socibus.es) , Autos Lopez (www.autotransportelopez.com) , Union Bus (www.unionbus.com) and LineSur (www.linesur.com). By Plane Cordoba Airport currently does not accept regular flights, but refurbishment works are being carried out and it’s expected to open in the near future. At present, the airport is used just for a few charter flights, military flights, aerial photography, flying courses and other aerial works. The nearest international Airports are Seville, Malaga and Madrid. By Train Train is, undoubtedly, the best and quickest way to get to the city. When the Spanish government decided to build the High Speed Train (1992) from Madrid to Seville via Cordoba, the city finally entered the 21st century. Until then, the only way to get to Cordoba was by car after a five hour drive from Madrid. In the years that followed, the Government invested large amounts of money into creating one of the best and fastest railway networks in the world. Length of journey: Madrid: 1hour 45 minutes Seville: 40 minutes Malaga: 1hour Barcelona: 4hours 50 minutes High Speed Trains are called AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) and can reach more than 300km /h (200 miles hour). These modern trains have 7 passenger wagons and a bar-cafeteria where you can have a drink or buy a sandwich. When demand is too high, two trains can be linked, multiplying capacity. Punctuality is other of the main features of this train. If the train is delayed more than five minutes for reasons within its control, the company returns the money to passengers. Besides AVE, there are also cheaper trains that connect Cordoba with other important cities such as Cadiz, Huelva or Granada. Tickets, Schedules and Further Information: www.renfe.es Cordoba Train Station is one of the most crowded in Andalusia (3 million passengers per year), due in large part to the lack of airport, and has modern facilities including restaurants, news-stand, gourmet shops, cafeteria, fashion shops, etc. If you need to catch a bus to visit some of the wonderful villages around Cordoba, the Bus Station is just opposite. I Almería 360 km. 223 miles Cádiz 263 km. 163 miles Granada 201 km. 124,9 miles Huelva 236 km. 146 miles Jaén 107 km. 66,5 miles Málaga 159 km. 98 miles Sevilla 142 km. 88 miles Madrid 399 km. 247 miles Barcelona 878 km. 545 miles Valencia 520 km. 323 miles Badajoz 265 km. 164 miles Ciudad Real 184 km. 114.3 miles CORDOBA Cordoba Train Station Distances from Cordoba Arriving
  4. 4. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 4 Urban Buses Cordoba has an excellent bus service: 16 bus lines that connect the neighborhoods with downtown and 4 lines linking the capital with small outlying districts. Bus routes are known by the number on the front of the bus. Buses are running from 6:00 to 23:00. Unfortunately, during the night taxi is the only option to get around. Ticket are sold directly by the driver and costs €1.15 (basic fare). Try to pay the exact amount because drivers do not accept big euro banknotes. This ticket allows you to change your line within one hour. There are also ten-trip tickets which cost €6.60. These tickets (“bonobus”) are sold at licensed tobacco shops and news-stands and must be validated inside the bus. In some downtown bus stops there are screens that show the estimated time for the next bus. (www.aucorsa.es) Taxis The city has 500 taxis, running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Taxis are white with sticker advertising on the doors, together with the official number. When the customer gets in the car, the taximeter marks €1.48 and the lowest price to pay (basic fare) for each service is €3.81. Night fare (from 22:00 to 6:00), Saturdays, Sunday and Bank Holidays the prices change to €1.84 and €4.75 respectively. There are many taxi stops around downtown and the old town but you can also hail from street at the same rate. Calling a taxi is an option as well, mention to the operator if you want to pay by credit card as not all taxis have card-reading equipment (+34957764444). www.radiotaxicordoba.com If you are planning to have some fun and return late at night, the only option to come back to your hotel is by taxi as public buses are running until 23:00. Generally, taxi drivers do not have a very high level of English, so it would be convenient to show the address written on a piece of paper. Additional Charges: From Train Station €0.53 Airport €7.72 Packets above 60 cm €0.51 Pets €1.06 Cycling Cordoba has over 50 km of bike lanes and its infrastructure is expected to grow in the coming years up to 72 km. This makes the city a perfect place to ride a bike and discover every nook and cranny of Cordoba avoiding traffic jams. Despite this great infrastructure, the number of public bicycles to rent is quite low. Some private companies cover this demand by renting bikes and offering tours for visitors in several languages. www.solobici.net Horse-drawn Carriages These romantic vehicles enable you to discover spots where motor vehicle access is restricted. Every day more and more tourists choose this ecological mean of transport to explore the city and discover beautiful corners practically inaccessible by car or bus. The approximate cost is €40 for one hour. You will find horse-drawn carriages stops near Fortress of Christian Kings and in front of San Rafael Monument, near Triumphal Arch. Phone Number: 957 200 522. CORDOBA Useful Information Population: 320.000 Local Time: Central European Official Language: Spanish Local Currency: € Measurement System: Metric System Religion: Secular State. 70% of the population is Catholic. Dailing Code: 0034 957 Electricity Supply: 220V Emergency Telephone Number: 112 Old Town Police Station: Address Calle Juda Leví s/n (tel: 957290760). Taxes: 21% (Shopping) 10% (Hotels& Rest.) Tourist Offices: Campo Santo de los Mártires s/n. (Tel: 902 201 774) & Plaza de las Tendillas, s/n. (Tel: 957491677). Official Web: www.turismodecordoba.org/ Cordoba Card: Discounts in sights, museums, public transport etc. (6 different types to choose from €15 to €43). Guided Tours: Cordoba Vision (Tel: 957231734) Train Station: Address Glorieta de last tres Culturas (Tel: 957764676). Central Post Office: Address: Cruz Conde. (Tel: 957479196) Tips: Not compulsory. Bank Holidays: January 1 st , January 6 th , February 28 th , Good Friday , May 1 st , August 15 th , September 8 th , October 12 th , October 24 th , November 1 st , December 6 th , December 8 th , December 25 th . Opening Hours: Malls & Departments Stores from 10am to 10pm. Small shops from 10:00 to 13:30/14:00 and from 16:30/17:00 to 21:00 (Closed on Sundays). Banking Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00/08:30 to 14:00. Urban Bus Getting Around Useful Information
  5. 5. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 5 Follow us and stay up to date with the latest news, links, tips, events, videos and much more Travel Guides by Local Experts www.mundo-guides.com
  6. 6. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 6 Wonderful journey into the past visit to Cordoba means discover one of the world's most important capitals during the Middle Ages. The most famous philosophers, doctors, intellectuals, government employees, military men and theologians lived in the city, making it one of the most important cultural centers in the world. During these glory days, Cordoba was also an example of coexistence between different cultures, races and religious groups: Muslims, Jews and Christians friendly lived together, respecting each other and providing an example hard to find in the twenty-first century. The Mosque of Cordoba (World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1984) is the most impressive monument in the city. It was built to compete with cities such as Baghdad and Constantinople and gives us an idea of the important role that the city played in the Islamic culture. Small white streets of the Jewry tell us about their past and the significance of the Jewish community for the city of the Caliphs. The Jews represented one of the city's economic engines and held important posts in the city government. The Alcazar of the Christian Kings witnessed major decisions which affected the future of the Spanish Empire: It was here where the Catholic Kings and Columbus met to raise funds for his expedition that led to the discovery of America. Within these walls, the Catholic Monarchs decided to exile millions of Jews living in Spain (1492). But the glorious past of the city didn’t paralyze the social and economic progress. Today Cordoba is a modern and cosmopolitan city, open to the future. The city has experienced an economic boom in recent decades due to - largely - infrastructure improvements and tourism. To visit Cordoba, Mundo-Guides has designed for you various routes following the different cultures that marked the history of the city: Romans, Muslims, Jews and Christians. A CORDOBA Almodovar Gate Eighth century BC: The mysterious Tartessian civilization occupies Andalusia and develops a thriving urban and economic center that they called "Karduba". Year 169 BC: The Roman Prefect Claudius Marcellus founded "Corduba" Year 45 BC: Julius Caesar besieged the city and massacred the population during the civil war against Pompey. Year 27 BC: Octavian Augustus appoints Corduba as "Colonia Patricia", the highest consideration given to a city in the Roman Empire. Year 411: Corduba is sacked by Vandals (barbarians from Northern Europe) who conquered the city and expelled the Roman armies. Year 550: The Byzantine Empire conquers the city. Year 572: The Vandals reconquer the city. Year 716: Cordoba becomes a province of the Caliphate of Damascus. Year 756: Abderraman I proclaims the Emirate of Cordoba. Year 929: Abderraman III establishes the Caliphate of Cordoba. Year 1235: Cordoba is conquered by the Christian army, led by Fernando III. Fifteenth Century: Christopher Columbus is in talks with the Catholic Kings in Cordoba to finance his expedition to America. Seventeenth Century-Nineteenth Century: Cordoba lives a time of economic and cultural decline. At the same time droughts and epidemics ravages the city. Twentieth Century: The city reawakens after a long slumber. The economy, trade and tourism flourishes. Tourist Offices & Visitor Reception Center Cordoba is one of the most visited Spanish cities. In fact, it´s quite difficult to find a tourist circuit in Spain that does not include Cordoba, one of most important and beautiful cities during the Middle Ages. The most numerous tourists in Cordoba are French, Italian, German, Japanese and English. Therefore, you will find information in these languages more easily than others. Tourist Offices are situated both in downtown and old town: Train Station In front of Fortress of the Christian Kings Tendillas Square These Tourist Offices are plenty of useful information for visitors: maps, routes, audio guides, brochures, etc. Near the Mosque has been recently inaugurated the Visitor Reception Center, a modern building which fortunately is in tune with the aesthetics of the old town. During its construction were found numerous archaeological remains from different eras: Romans, Visigoths, Muslims.... Thanks to the great work of the archaeologists, these archaeological remains have been integrated into the building and can be admired by all visitors. Since the opening of this modern Visitor Reception Center, tourists can enjoy a personalized attention and modern technological advances designed to enrich the visit. If you need an Official Guide: http://www.apitcordoba.com/ (957 486 997). Languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese. Additional information on sights, cultural information, gastronomy at: http://www.turismodecordoba.org What to Visit Historical Chronology
  7. 7. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 7 ordoba was founded in 169 B.C. by Roman Prefect Claudius Marcellus who chose this place to build one of the most important cities of the Empire. The city planned by Claudius Marcellus had an excellent strategic position: near Guadalquivir River and located in the most elevated part of the territory. During the early years, the Romans had to live with indigenous people, called “Turdetanos” but gradually they began to disappear, flourishing the Roman Civilization: natives slowly adopted the Roman way of life and were captivated by the sophisticating Roman culture. Shortly after, Cordoba was named Capital of the Province of Hispania Ulterior and Romans started to build frantically: water supply was improved, the city walls were reinforced and rich mansions were built. However on January 10, 49 B.C. a Civil War broke out between Pompey and Caesar. Cordoba wholeheartedly supported Pompey but unfortunately Caesar won and rose to power: few months later the city suffered terrible reprisals and many people left Cordoba (approximately the population of the city was reduced by 50%). Over the years, Octavian Augustus came to power and Cordoba was declared Colonia Patricia, the highest consideration given to a city after Rome. Since then, Cordoba reached its “Golden Age” and important changes were carried out: the city was repopulated, new neighborhoods and roads were built, new Forums, bridges, temples and circus were constructed, the city boundaries were extended, the first aqueduct in the city became operational and Roman aristocrats built outside the city (at the foot of the mountain) wonderful recreational villas where the wealthy families spent the summer. In the third Century the Roman Empire experienced a deep crisis which was reflected in the city: major works passed away, spaces were reused, looting and riots occurred and poorer quality building materials were widely used. The only major building designed in Cordoba during these years was the Palace of Maximian Herculeo, which will be discussed later. Roman Bridge The Romans were a civilization that was constantly at war and therefore were considered to be true experts in building civil works, bridges, city walls, aqueducts... The place where Romans built the Roman Bridge (first century) was obviously not chosen at random. Romans chose the lowest and deepest part of Guadalquivir River because it was easier to construct for roman engineers. The bridge, 230 meters long, ends at the Triumphal Arch (twentieth century) which was one of the main gateways to the Roman city. At the other end of the Bridge, there is a tower built in Moorish times (Calahorra Tower) to control ship traffic on the river. During the Arab period, the bridge was severely damaged and, after some years, it ceased to be used as it was too dangerous to cross it. Later, the Christians decided to rebuild the Roman Bridge since it was the most important access to the city and the only existing bridge in Cordoba. A statue of Archangel Rafael, city Patron, was placed on the bridge in the seventeenth century after a great epidemic wreaked havoc in the city. During the twentieth century, the bridge underwent several reconstructions. Despite this, cars and buses continued to use the bridge further weakening its structure. In addition, it was practically impossible to walk it. In 2008 the last reconstruction works were carried out and fortunately, traffic was suppressed. After this reconstruction, the bridge regained its original appearance. Cordoba and its bridges: for nearly two thousand years the Roman Bridge was the only bridge in the city to cross Guadalquivir River. In the twentieth century the Local Government approved the construction of a new bridge: San Rafael Bridge, the second bridge in Cordoba. Fortunately, today the city have five more bridges: Puente de Andalucía, Puente de Miraflores, Puente de la Autovía del Sur, Puente de Abbas Ibn Firnás, Puente del Arenal. C CORDOBA Roman Cordoba Lucio Anneo Séneca (Cordoba, 4 a. C. - Rome, 65) Roman Bridge Albolafia Take a look around the Roman Bridge! From the water emerges a real nature reserve inhabited by birds (ducks and herons), endemic plants and even a small community of otters. It is really surprising and difficult to believe: a unique enclave, sculpted by Nature´s hand, in the middle of the old town. Do not miss the arrival of the herons in the evening: early in the morning herons go out of town to find food and return late in the afternoon. Hundreds and hundreds of herons land softly on the river and trees, creating a wonderful spectacle. On the right bank of the river you can see a waterwheel from Arab times. This mechanism provided water to the Royal Family who lived in the old Muslim Alcazar. When the Catholic Kings lived in Cordoba ordered to remove the waterwheel because the noise disturbed the Queen when she tried to sleep. Later in the sixteenth century it was renovated and restored. Address: Puente Romano s/n Prices: - Opening Hours: - “Albolafia”
  8. 8. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 8 Bridge Gate / Triumphal Arch Brigde Gate is, erroneously, called Triumphal Arch although it has never been used for this purpose. Since the Roman times, this access was the most important entry point into the city through the city walls: everyday thousands of people, carriages with groceries and armies passed through this gate. An impressive wall, that protected the Roman city of Cordoba against possible attacks, was attached to the gate, creating a powerful defense system. Unfortunately, today almost nothing remains of the Roman Gate and even the wall disappeared. Over the years, the Christians decided to destroy the old gate and build a beautiful new one to replace it. The works were designed by Hernan Ruiz, one of the best architects in Spain, although the Gate remained unfinished for many years due to lack of funds. At the top of the Gate there is a plaque commemorating the visit of King Felipe II (1571) to Cordoba. This King took one of the most important decisions in the history of Spain: moved the Court from the Imperial Toledo to Madrid, a small and dusty medieval village. Finally in the twentieth century, the Local Government decided to finish the construction of the Memorial Gate and completed the work of Hernan Ruiz. Temple of Claudius Marcellus Street This incredible Temple is located between Claudio Marcelo and Capitulares Streets, pretty close to Tendillas Square, the most popular square of the city. Under the rule of Claudius Augustus (Octavian Augustus, second half of the first century) Cordoba reached great splendor and wealth, becoming one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. At the same time, Cordoba was named Colonia Patricia and the urban development boomed in the city. In this context, the Temple of Claudius Marcellus was designed and built, creating great expectation in the region. The Temple was built to worship the Emperor: best artists of the time took part in its construction, turning the building into one of the most beautiful of the Roman Empire. Practically, the whole construction was made of marble which gives us an idea of the enormous weight that had to endure the foundations of the Temple. Lamentably, only certain specific parts remains from the original building: the steps, the altar, the shafts of the columns, the foundations and some capitals. The Roman Circus, one of the favorite distractions of the Roman people, was located very near. Experts believe that it was built in the area now occupied by the Church of St. Paul (1241). Unfortunately, still no archaeological remains have been found to confirm this theory. In the Circus were held chariot races and even naval battles shows, during which the Circus was filled with water. Herculean Maximian Palace This amazing Palace was built by Maximian Herculeo in the year 296 and was located outside the city walls (about 600 meters away). During these years, numerous uprisings and revolts against the Empire took place in southern Spain and North Africa. In order to tackle this difficult situation, the Roman Authorities formulated a plan: the Roman Empire established the “tetrarchy” (decentralization of power from Rome to peripheral areas such as Cordoba or Split). For this reason, Maximian decided to take up residence here until the end of the campaign. The dimensions of this Palace were great and no expense was spared in its construction, becoming one of the most impressive palaces of CORDOBA Bridge Gate Roman Temple Funeral Mausoleums On Victoria Avenue we can find a great example of Roman Mausoleum. Near this central avenue was located one of the main Roman city gates. From this part of town, a major Roman road communicated Cordoba with Seville, promoting trade and the transport of goods. At the same time, the most important burial areas of the city were located along this road. Fortunately, some of these sepulchers have been preserved in relatively good condition and, thanks to the works of reconstruction and documentation, have been restored. More precisely, these mausoleums we can contemplate in the middle of Victory Gardens date from the time of Emperor Tiberius (first century BC). Historians suggest that these funeral mausoleums belonged to important public figures as they were buried near one of the major access to the city. In particular, experts believe that it could be an "Ordo Equest" family mausoleum, a title granted to families that belonged to the ancient Roman Aristocracy. Usually we can distinguish two parts in a Roman mausoleum: "ustrinum" where the cremation of the corpse was performed and an area where the remains of the deceased were deposed. This burial area, however, did not last too long: in the late second century a neighborhood emerged around here and mausoleums were surrounded by houses and buildings. As a consequence, the Roman road that led to Seville was closed to avoid passing through this new neighborhood and Local authorities found new burial areas far away from here. Historical Note: Emperor Augustus was buried in Rome in a similar mausoleum. From this moment on, wealthy Roman people began to use sepulchers of this kind, becoming very popular throughout the Empire. Maybe you're interested in knowing that Spain was a very important country for the Roman Empire to the point that two Spaniards, Trajan and Hadrian, became roman Emperors. Address: Calle Claudio Marcelo 29 Price: - Opening Hours: Closed to tourists Address: Ronda de Isasa s/n Price: 1€ Opening Hours: Monday to Friday (10:00-15:00) / Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays (11:00-15:00) Funeral Mausoleums
  9. 9. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 9 the Empire: high quality marble and rich mosaics were used in its construction. The complex was 400 meters long and 200 meters wide and was articulated around semicircular underground galleries. Around these galleries were located different buildings which had many public functions: for example, they were used as Reception Room where the Emperor performed official acts, Spa, Hearing Room to receive important Government officials... Besides these buildings, several rooms were used as private residence of Emperor Maximian. During the Visigoth period, the Palace was renovated and used as Basilica. Later, in Muslim times, the building was destroyed and a neighborhood emerged re-using building materials from the Palace. Unfortunately, the current situation of the Palace is deplorable. The works carried out in 1991 to build the New Train Station destroyed much of the remains of the Palace. Despite the great efforts of historians and archaeologists, nowadays only one third of the Palace is preserved. Roman Amphitheater In the first century a truly astounding Amphitheater was built in Cordoba, only 7 meters smaller than the Great Colosseum in Rome. These proportions help us to understand how important Cordoba was in the Roman Empire. In the Amphitheater Romans enjoyed gladiatorial combats, animal fights and fights between gladiators and animals. Gradually, these bloody combats became one of the favorite entertainments of the Roman society, similar to football today. The Amphitheater of Cordoba was discovered in the 1990s, near the Faculty of Veterinary and archaeologists were greatly surprised by its enormous size. The building had 3 floors, 15 to 20 meters high and could seat 30,000 people. The strategic placement of corridors and gates facilitated the evacuation of the Amphitheater in just a few minutes, much faster than in some modern football stadiums. In the fourth century, Constantine banned gladiatorial combats and the building was abandoned, later deteriorated and finally in ruins. When the Muslims discovered the remains, they used the materials to build a neighborhood. This was relatively common at that time. Currently, the Amphitheater is under reconstruction and in the near future tourists will be able to visit it. Roman Theatre Theatres were very common in the Empire, almost each town had one. Generally, the ancient Greek tragedy and the Roman comedies were the favorite genres among Romans and the theaters were filled practically every day. Roman Theaters were semi-circular in plan and consisted of three parts: on one side were located the stands for spectators (cavea). At the opposite end was the stage (scaena) and between both of them the Orchestra for musicians and the choir. If weather demanded, awnings were placed to protect the public from the rain or the scorching sun. Cordoba had one of the largest Theatres of the Empire. It was only 6 meters smaller than the Marcellus Theater in Rome and had a capacity for 15,000 people. The Roman Theater (5 B.C.) was discovered on the foundations of the current Archaeological Museum of Cordoba but unfortunately, it was only possible to dig up and restore about 30%. The rest was used as construction materials during the Visigothic and Arab periods just like others great monuments of the Roman era. Fortunately, the stands for the public have been preserved and visitors can admire them in a special room of the Archaeological Museum. t the end of the seventh century, the Iberian Peninsula was ruled by the Visigoths. But the situation in Spain was really complicated: aristocrats groups struggled for power, epidemics spread rapidly and the demographic crisis was evident. Muslims, settled in North Africa, took advantage of the occasion and devised a plan to conquer Spain and later Europe. In 711, an army, led by Tariq, disembarked in Gibraltar (now a territory of the United Kingdom) and from there began an expansion throughout the country. This military campaign was supported by Jews and some opponents of the Visigothic Kings. Gradually, Visigothic cities were conquered (Seville, Merida, Cordoba, Malaga, Linares…) and at the end of 711, the capital of Spain, Toledo, fell into Muslim hands. In the years following, the Muslim government consolidated its situation in Spain and named Seville as the first capital of Al-Andalus. Andalusia's fate changed dramatically when in 756 Abderraman I came to Spain and proclaimed the Emirate of Cordoba. Mosque-Cathedral The Mosque of Cordoba is, without doubt, one of the most amazing monuments in Europe and highly appreciated by the entire Muslim world. Shortly after the Muslim conquest (711), the territories of southern Spain were populated with North Africans. Over the years, the situation was much more stable and in 756 Abderramán I came to Cordoba to found the Emirate of Cordoba, independent of the Caliphate of Damascus. In this context, the construction of the Mosque of Cordoba began in the year 756. Although they had to resolve some administrative problems before: previously, the building was occupied by an ancient Visigoth Basilica, the most important religious building in Cordoba. Abderramán I expropriated the land where the Basilica was and destroyed it in order to build his long-awaited Mosque. A CORDOBA Address: Avda. Vía Augusta, s/n Price: Free Entrance Opening Hours: (10:00-14:00) Mondays & Tuesday Closed Address: Avenida Medina Azahara, 1 (Faculty of Veterinary) Price: - Opening Hours: Closed to tourists Address: Plaza de Jerónimo Páez, 2 (Archaeological Museum) Price: General 1.5€ / EU Citizens Free Admission Opening Hours: Tuesday (14:30-20:30) Wednesday- Saturday (09:00-20:30) Sunday (09:00-14:30) Monday Closed Islamic Cordoba Mosque of Cordoba
  10. 10. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 10 Construction Stages The construction of the Mosque can be divided into different phases: 1. Abderramán I The first phase of construction consisted of eleven naves oriented lengthwise to Guadalquivir River. The width of these naves is identical, except the central nave that leads to the Mihrab (sacred wall), and the two lateral naves. Central nave is slightly larger than the rest and lateral naves are a little bit narrower, but these slight differences are noticeable only from a plane. Construction materials were taken from other buildings of past times (mainly Romans’ and Visigoths’). In brief, this phase can be summarized: • Eleven naves designed with the same width except for central and lateral naves • An original system of arcs that revolutionized the world of architecture. Above the columns were built pillars in order to develop a system of horseshoe and half a point arches, creating a wonderful visual effect. • The decor was done by alternating red (brick) and white (stone) segments. This system was already used by the Romans in the Aqueduct of the Miracles in Merida (Spain). The result is an immense forest of columns, imitating a palm grove. Naves were closed by the qibla wall, where the Mihrab is located: this wall is the sacred space where Muslims pray and is usually oriented toward Mecca. In 788 the wonderful project of Abderraman I was finally finished. 2. Abderramán II By this time (833-855), Cordoba was already one of the most important cities in the world. The population grew exponentially and city boundaries were extended. Faced with this challenge, the authorities decided to extend the naves to meet the religious needs of the growing city. The length of the naves was extended to the South. To achieve this, Abderraman II had to destroy the qibla wall and build a new one. For the first time ever, new building materials were used exclusively for the Mosque. The decoration remains the same: alternating red (brick) and white (stone).The last amendment made by Abderraman II was to enclose the Orange Tree Courtyard with saqqifas (small roofs). 3. Abderramán III Abderrahman III undertook a series of important reforms in the Orange Tree Courtyard (951-952): old Minaret was destroyed and a new one 42-meter high was built. This Minaret became a propaganda symbol of the new Caliphate of Cordoba and was taken as a model in many Arab cities. 4. Alhaken II During the tenth century, Cordoba enjoyed the most glorious moment in its history: great amount of mosques, libraries and palaces were built in the city and population kept growing steadily. The major reforms carried out by Alhaken II were undoubtedly the most beautiful and sumptuous in the history of Cordoba (962-965). Alhaken II extended again the length of the naves, demolished the qibla wall and built a new one which still stands today. To improve lighting, four skylights with beautiful domes were designed. For the first time ever, the new foliated and cross arches were introduced. The columns alternate pink and blue trunks. During these years, the floor of the Mosque consisted of compacted clay and was covered with precious Eastern carpets. Finally, the current Mihrab of the Mosque, built by Alhaken II, is considered a symbol of luxury and magnificence of the Caliphate of Cordoba. 5. Al-Mansur Cordoba was growing steadily and the authorities felt compelled to expand the Great Mosque of Cordoba once again (988-1002). Fortunately, this enlargement, made in 988, was the last experienced by the Mosque. Eight new naves were built, nearly doubling the capacity of the Mosque (22,000 m2). Sadly, this expansion made the Mihrab loose its central position. Mosque Inside Mihrab of Alhaken II The Mihrab is a small niche located in the sacred wall (Qibla), where Muslims pray. Therefore, it is the most important part of a Mosque. Mihrabs can have different sizes and, given its important function, usually are richly decorated. In Cordoba, the Mihrab and Qibla wall are erroneously facing south and not toward Mecca. The motive of this “mistake” is in question, ranging from inexperience and error in the calculation to pure political overtones, hinting to the declaration of political independence of the Emirate of Cordoba. Another theory considers that the architects wanted to imitate the Mosque Umayyad of Damascus, which is also facing south. The Mihrab in Cordoba is octagonal and is adorned with marble baseboards and profuse decorative motifs, which reproduce symbols and allegories of life according to the Sassanid tradition. On the ceiling there is a scallop of plaster decorated by a magnificent mosaic donated by the Emperor of Constantinople, Nicephorus Phocas to Alhaken II. This amazing mosaic was made with glass powder of gold and blue hues and combines decorative motifs with verses from the Koran. Something similar can only be seen in the temple of St. Sophia in Istanbul. Mosque CORDOBA Mihrab of Alhaken II
  11. 11. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 11 Sabat In large Muslim cities it was common, for security reasons, to construct an overpass which connected directly the residence of the Caliph with the Mosque. According to Arab chroniclers, some Caliphs or important government Emirs had been killed on their way to the Mosque. Through this overpass they could cross the street safely and with discretion. Unfortunately, this overpass was destroyed and experts discuss about its original location. According to the most solid theories, Sabat was located on Torrijos Street, near the monument to San Rafael. Lavatories In the Muslim religion the cleansing ritual or ablution is mandatory before prayer. There were different kinds of purification rituals depending on the type of sin: "ghusl" or major ablution for sex sins and "wudu" for minor sins and bodily needs (urine, feces, touching a woman without an intermediary material…). Mosques, thus, needed a place where these ablutions could be made: the lavatories, in Arabic "mida'a". The Lavatories of the Mosque of Cordoba were destroyed and their remains were forgotten after the Christian conquest. Although thanks to the abundant Arabic literature, we know that in the Mosque of Cordoba there were four lavatories, two for men and two for women. In 1998 archaeological remains of one of these lavatories were found inside the Hotel Conquistador, just in front of the Mosque. The lavatory, almost totally preserved, had an entrance area and two courtyards for ablutions. Plus, a complex network of hydraulic pipes was found: this modern system carried water from the river to the lavatories. Orange Tree Courtyard Orange Tree Courtyard, (“Patio de los Naranjos” in Spanish) was built to play a clearly religious role. Here the faithful Muslims could perform ablution before praying and go into the Oratory, clean from all sin. The Courtyard, 130 meters long and 50 meters large, had to be broadened several times over the centuries to accommodate the growing number of Muslims who came to the Mosque every day. Slowly, Orange Tree Courtyard became a meeting point for Muslim society in Cordoba. When the Christians conquered the city, the use of the Courtyard changed completely. Initially it was used as a little square alongside the Cathedral, as a garden, as a place of recreation and even as a cemetery. We are aware of the presence of orange trees in the courtyard since 1512, although we do not know how many trees there were and how they were distributed. The Christian Tower, a former minaret, was built in 1360. However, over the years, there have been many changes that affected its original appearance: in 1664, a statue of the Archangel San Rafael was placed in the highest part of the tower. From here, San Rafael controls the entire city and protects all “cordobeses”. Finally, you cannot miss the wooden beams on the walls of the Courtyard: these beams were part of the original ceiling of the Mosque but unfortunately were stolen decades ago. The Andalusian Government found the beams in London and they bought them after a millionaire auction. The Mosque and the construction of the Cathedral On June 29 th , 1236 King Fernando III and his troops conquered Cordoba and entered into the city. The procession headed to the Mosque, where they placed the Christian cross and a flag of Castile and Leon on the minaret. The news of the conquest of Cordoba shocked the entire European continent, creating great expectation in the Christian states. During the first Christian centuries, reforms in the Mosque were limited to the construction of small chapels (Old Major Chapel and Royal Chapel, where King Fernando IV and Alfonso XI were buried) which did not affect the Arab monument too much. CORDOBA Supposed Sabat Gate Orange Tree Courtyard Orange Tree Courtyard Abderraman III (Cordoba 891-961). Abderraman III was the son of Abd Allah Ibn al-Mundir and Muzayna (slave of Basque origin). He was 21 years old when his grandfather appointed him Governor of Al-Andalus. At that time, the Empire of Al-Andalus was fragmented and there were many conflicts between local lords. Abderrahman III unified the different territories and put an end to the era of internal conflicts and violence: an important step to secure the future of Cordoba and Andalusia. At the same time, Abderraman III extended his military campaigns to North Spain as well as to Africa. In the North his troops fought against the Christians who were defeated and ended up paying taxes to Al-Andalus. Once secured the borders in the north, Abderraman III extended his empire to Africa conquering the African cities of Tangiers, Ceuta and Melilla. In 929, Abderraman III proclaimed the Caliphate of Cordoba and broke the last link with the Caliphate of Baghdad. Abderraman III had a quick intelligence and benevolent personality. At the same time, he was keen and courteous. Despite all this, Abderraman III was famous for his cruelty. Some stories describe this feature of his character: “he was able to see with his own eyes the death of his son Abd Allah, who was executed in the throne room in the presence of all the dignitaries of the court”. Others stories tell us how he used lions to punish those sentenced to death. Such cruelty was not only in battles or corporal punishments, his brutality to women in the harem was notorious too. One day, in the gardens of Madinat al-Zahra (palatial city, 8 kilometers from Cordoba) Abderraman III was drunk and accompanied by one of his favorite wives. Suddenly, he tried to kiss her and bite her but she was elusive and did a bad gesture. The Caliph ordered to burn her face, leaving a melted, grotesque clowny-looking face. Abderraman III
  12. 12. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 12 Over the years, the political situation in Cordoba was much more stable and clashes between Christians and Arabs slowly disappeared. This situation made it possible to design major reforms. The biggest change that the Mosque experienced was carried out in the sixteenth century: Emperor Carlos V authorized the construction of a great Christian Cathedral inside the Mosque (1523) at the initiative of Bishop Alonso Manrique. Hernan Ruiz I was appointed chief architect but shortly after, he died and his son, Hernan Ruiz II, continued the work which lasted until the seventeenth century. The Christian Cathedral resulting is a harmonious blend of different styles: Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque. After this major reform (sixteenth century), the old Mosque hardly underwent any change. Only minor additions and decorative liturgical accessories were attached. While visiting the Cathedral, pay special attention to the marble pulpits and the wonderful altarpiece. The choir stalls of the Cathedral (eighteenth century) were made with wood from the Americas and have a great artistic value: Biblical scenes and the Virgin Mary are depicted here. The two impressive organs were manufactured in Italy and brought from there to Cordoba. Finally, you cannot miss the Treasury of the Cathedral which is located in the Chapel of Santa Teresa: there we can admire the "custody", which measures over 2.5 meters and weighs 200 kilos. It symbolizes the construction of the Gothic Cathedral. Moreover, Cardinal Salazar and Gongora, famous Spanish writer, were buried here. Sagrario Chapel: At the corner between the south wall and the east wall was built this beautiful chapel (1586) which is divided into three small naves and decorated with beautiful frescoes (Cesare Arbasia) that give to the chapel the nickname of “The Sistine Chapel of Andalusia." In addition to the great beauty of this monument, the Mosque of Cordoba hides interesting exhibits, such as the Museum of San Vicente and San Clemente Museum: Here visitors can find shafts and capitals of the ancient Visigothic Basilica that was located here before the construction of the sacred Mosque, sarcophagi, the mechanism of the Cathedral Clock Tower (1747), marks of the stonemason who worked in the construction of the mosque, Caliphate gravestones or even a well curb. Main Facades and Access to the Mosque Postigo de la Leche Postigo de la Leche is situated in the western facade of the building and has direct access to the Orange Tree Courtyard. Its original appearance is completely unknown, as it was rebuilt by Hernan Ruiz I (1505-1510). Its design consists of two parts: the first part has a small opening and a lintel, forming a sort of ogee arch. The access is decorated with a rosette in the center. On the top, the scheme is similar but there is a cornice, decorated with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures. In the Middle Ages women who could not raise their children came here and leave them at Postigo de la Leche waiting for someone with financial resources who could feed them. There is a legend that says that a herd of pigs passing through the Postigo de la Leche killed several children who were playing in the area. Puerta de los Deanes (Deanes Gate) There is another entrance in the western part of the Mosque called Puerta de los Deanes and gives access to the Orange Tree Courtyard. This gate has been rebuilt several times but fortunately the Muslim model was preserved: access bay door and lintel surrounded by a horseshoe arch and all topped by a small roof. On the inside of the gate we can find the original design without substantial changes: horseshoe arch and voussoirs alternating red and white. This gate is called Deanes, because during the ceremony of investiture, the future Dean entered through this gate. Dean was, in the Catholic Church, the person who had the power when the Bishop was out of town. At these times, it was very common for political reasons that the Bishop was traveling all around Spain. Therefore, the Dean was a very important person in the city. Puerta San Esteban (Saint Stephen Gate) There is one more entry in the western part of the Mosque and provides access directly to the Oratory. This gate was built during the 8 th Century though in the 9 th Century underwent major reconstruction. Architects followed the Muslim model: bay door and lintel surrounded by a horseshoe arch and a small roof on top. The whole construction was decorated with verses from the Koran carved during the 9th century. Puerta del Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit Gate) This gate is located in the western façade of the Mosque and it was built by Alhaken II. Holy Spirit Gate has direct access to the Oratory. This Gate was covered until the 20 th century when reconstruction works took place. These reconstruction works were carried out following the Muslim model. Special mention should be made of the blind horseshoe arches interlocked and decorated with geometric shapes surrounded by poly-lobed arches. CORDOBA Christian part of the Mosque Postigo de la Leche Deanes Gate Saint Stephen Gate Holy Spirit Gate
  13. 13. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 13 Postigo de Palacio (Palace Gate) This gate dates from the Caliphate of Alhaken II . Unfortunately, it was restored later in Christian times, destroying part of the original model. This access leads to the Oratory from the western part of the temple. The most fascinating aspect of this gate is the merger of Islamic decoration (horseshoe arches, etc.) and Christian elements (gable, molding) which confers great dynamism. Puerta de San Ildefonso (Saint Ildephonsus Gate) This access was built by Alhaken II. If you look closely, you will see that this Gate is virtually identical to the Holy Spirit Gate which is also in the western part of the Mosque. Poly-lobed arches and geometric shapes confer dynamism and movement to the construction. Puerta de Santa Catalina (St. Catherine Gate) This gate is located in the eastern part of the Orange Tree Courtyard and was built on the orders of Al-Mansur. Later, the Gate was reformed in Christian times. The architect of this reform was Cristiano Hernan Ruiz II. Without a doubt, the most interesting parts are the spandrel of the arches which are decorated with reliefs extracted from the ancient Muslim minaret built during Abderramán II times. Doors are made of wood with silver paneling. This access has a special significance since the Middle Ages, especially during Holy Week processions (where Spaniards celebrate Christ’s resurrection). Nowadays, the tradition of Holy Week (“Semana Santa”) is still alive in Cordoba: thousands of “Cordobeses” and tourists flock the streets looking for their favorite procession. Puerta del Perdon (Gate of Forgiveness) This gate was built in 1377 under the reign of Enrique II whose shield can still be seen above the entrance arch. This access has two doors, one outside and the other facing the Orange Tree Courtyard. The doors are nearly 10 meters high and two meters wide and were made of pine wood covered by bronze sheets. The original façade was designed during the 14 th Century but unfortunately is not preserved as it underwent several modifications. The current façade is the result of the reform carried out by Sebastián Vidal in the mid-seventeenth Century. Puerta de las Palmas (Las Palmas Gate) This entrance was designed by Abderramán III to strengthen the north facade of the Oratory which was in danger of collapse. During the 14 th century, this Gate experienced some improvement works. Later, it was adorned with Christian decor elements like the statues of “The Virgin and the Angel” (Hernán Ruiz I). Here were blessed the flags of the Christian armies before conquering Granada (1492). During the 18 th century, improvement works were needed again (Tomas Jerónimo de Pedrajas). Legends about the Mosque The Mosque of Cordoba hides fantastic and romantic legends, some of which are known by all “cordobeses”. Here are some of the most popular: Apparition of the Angel Aberraman I had a terrible nightmare in which he was drowned in a sea of blood while he recalled bloody episodes of his life. Suddenly, an angel appeared and rescued him. The angel said: "such will be the work I consecrate you, the one true God, that the whole world will envy it and it will tame the winds and endure the endless days!”. After this prophecy Abderraman I ordered the construction of the Mosque. Fountain of Santa Maria In the middle of the Orange Tree Courtyard there is a beautiful fountain with several spouts. According to the tradition, single women who wanted to marry had to drink from a spout, specifically the nearest to the olive tree. This action would help them find a husband. Tunnel between the Mosque and Madinat al-Zahra It is said that during the time of Abderrahman III there was a hidden tunnel connecting the Mosque of Cordoba and Madinat al-Zahra. Researchers had been looking for this tunnel with keen interest but no result till date. This tunnel would have nearly 13 km of distance and would allow the Caliph pass through town without being seen and without fear of any possible attack. We must take into consideration that the safety of the Caliph was a matter of state therefore, it wouldn´t be strange the construction of an infrastructure of such magnitude. CORDOBA Palace Gate Saint Ildephonsus Gate St. Catherine Gate Las Palmas Gate Did you know…? When King Carlos V visited the works of the Cathedral in the sixteenth century, he was deeply repentant and said: "I did not know that the Mosque of Cordoba was so beautiful. We have destroyed something unique to build something that could be built elsewhere".
  14. 14. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 14 Bells of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela On July 3 997, there was a battle between the Christian armies and the Muslim troops which ended in victory for Al-Andalus. According to the legend, Al-Mansur took as loot the bells of the Cathedral of Santiago and placed them in the Mosque of Cordoba, specifically in one of the naves now crowned with Ghotic vaults. Pay special Attention: If you want to visit the Great Mosque on Sunday morning you will have to wear shirt with sleeves or something to cover your shoulders as the Christian mass is held in the Cathedral. In addition, you can visit only the Christian part of the Mosque. The rest remains closed to tourists. If you want to visit the whole monument it’s better to wait until the afternoon. Caliphate Bath (Hammam) Ablution or body cleansing was an essential part of Muslim life. One can even say that it was a social ritual. During this rite, men chatted and discussed political, economic and religion issues. These baths, the most important in the city, were part of the Muslim Alcazar (Official Residence of the Caliph) which unfortunately was destroyed at the end of the Caliphate. This type of baths had a very particular design: cold water room, warm water room and hot water room. All of them articulated through a complicated system of pipes and boilers. At present, medical experts have confirmed that these temperature changes improved blood circulation. If you are interested in knowing more about the history of the Caliphate, within the Baths you can watch an interesting documentary about the glorious history of the Muslim Cordoba. Madinat al-Zahra Palace Madinat al-Zahra was a palatine city located 8 kilometers from Cordoba. The whole complex was built by Abderrahman III, the Caliph that changed forever the history of Cordoba thanks to his political decisions: In 929 Abderrahman III abolished the Emirate and named Cordoba capital of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, representing a complete challenge to the Abbasid Caliphate (Baghdad). During the 10 th century, the city reached its highest development: the trade flourished, the population multiplied and philosophers, poets and musicians came to the city from all around the world. Diplomatic relations were focused on dialogue with the Christians and some battles against them too, if the situation so demanded. In North Africa, the Fatimid Kingdom (enemy of the Caliphate of Cordoba) controlled several important trade routes to Cordoba, which created a remarkable tension between the two kingdoms. In this challenging context, Abderrahman III felt that he must create a city that represented the glory of his Caliphate, Madinat al-Zahra. This city, the most important of the West, would be used as propaganda symbol to his people and his enemies in North Africa (Fatimid Kingdom). At the same time, his project would become the most amazing Palace in the world, even bigger than the Grand Palace Abbaside in Baghdad. The first stone of Madinat al-Zahra was laid in 936 and was finished about 975. The abundant Arabic literature describes in detail the richness of this amazing city where the Caliph lived and ceremonies, receptions of Christian ambassadors or even military parades were held. Legend says that Abderraman III named this city in honor of his wife, "Zahra" which in Arabic means "flower." Using the slope of the land, architects designed a city structured on three levels: A) The Caliph's Palace, located in the highest part of the city. B) Residences of the Viziers, Government Buildings, the Rich Lounge of Abderraman III, gardens... These two levels were protected by a solid wall. C) The real city: houses of artisans, workshops, city Mosque, soldier barracks, baths, zoco (market)... The Archeological Site North Gate The North Gate controlled the entry and exit of food supplies and building materials to and from Madinat al-Azhara. On one side of the Gate there was a watchtower designed for the soldiers. At the same time, a downward path connected, via 4-gates, with the next level of the city. The Military House Here guests waited for the Caliph to be received. We can also see some important military offices. On the south side of the building there is a large square that originally had no gardens, which were designed in the twentieth century. On the western side of the square were built the stables. The Eastern part houses the remains of some small residences. The Great Portico It was the entrance to the real heart of the city, where the offices, administrative buildings and luxury rooms were located. In addition, military parades, ambassador receptions and solemn ceremonies were held regularly here. A small street ramp connected the Military House with the Grand Portico. The Caliph's guests walked down this small street to reach this awesome Portico whose mission was to impress the guests of the Caliph. CORDOBA Address: Calle Cardenal Herrero 1 Prices: General 8€/Reduced 4€/Children Free Opening Hours: Nov-Feb (10:00-18:00) Mar-Oct (10:00- 19:00) Sundays closed from 10:15 to 14:00 Address: Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires s/n Prices: General 2€/Reduced 1€ /Children Free/ Fridays Free Opening Hours: Nov-Feb (10:00-14:00 & 16:30-19:00) Mar- Oct (08:30-14:30) Sundays (09:30-14:30) Mondays Closed Downward Path The Military House The Great Portico
  15. 15. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 15 The Rich Lounge of Abderraman III It is, without doubt, the most important part of Madinat al-Zahra. It can be defined as a magical place that perfectly represents the luxury of this palace. The Rich Lounge was used by Abderraman III to hold his private festivals, ceremonies, ambassador receptions, and banquets, always surrounded by beautiful dancers, slaves and multitude of officers. The Rich Lounge of Abderraman III can be divided into three naves: in the central nave was situated the throne of the Caliph. In the side naves the officers and viziers sat and talked together. The greatest feature of this lounge is the beautiful decoration, an example of the splendor of Al-Andalus in the tenth century. The Caliph wanted to amaze his guests and he spared no expenses in decorating this wonderful lounge: marble columns and amazing arches were built and wood ceilings with stars were designed by the best decorators of the Caliphate. On the eastern side of the building were built several rooms, which were directly connected with the Rich Lounge of Abderraman III and paved with white marble extracted in the province of Cordoba. In these rooms the Caliph spent part of his private life when he was not in his official residence situated at the top of the palatine city. To the south of the Rich Lounge visitors can contemplate a large garden divided into 4 sections: in the geometric center of the garden there was a small pavilion called "Central Pavilion" which was surrounded by four pools. Aljama Mosque On the eastern part of Madinat al-Zahra, outside the walls, we can see the Mosque of the palatine city. Like every other Mosque, this building had a Courtyard where Muslims could make ablutions and an Oratory where the faithful prayed. This mosque was well oriented toward Mecca unlike the Mosque of Cordoba. From the Rich Lounge of Abderraman III, the Caliph could go straight to the mosque through an overpass built by security reasons (Sabat). Opposite the Mosque, we find several houses belonging to the people who worked in the Mosque. Yafar House The residences of the Senior Officials and Caliph´s collaborators were located in this part of the city. Yafar House is a perfect example of a seigniorial house from the 10 th century. Its large size indicates that Yafar was an important figure in the political life of Madinat al-Zahra and an official very close to the Caliph. The residence was composed of three well defined areas: a private area to the East, an area for service personnel to the North and a public basilica-shaped building. Pool House Just few meters away from Yafar House visitors can find a small building. Historians still can’t say with certainty to who this house belonged but according to some experts, it could be Al Hakam’s house in times when he was the crown prince. In the central part of the house there is a garden with a small pool. There was also a bathroom which was shared with the Yafar House. Worker Houses There is a group of houses which belonged to soldiers and people who worked in domestic service. If we look closely at the archeological remains, we can confirm that this part of the city was used to cook food for Senior Officials (see bread oven). The Royal House The Official Residence of the Caliph was located in the highest part of the city: from here he could see the whole Madinat al-Zahra complex and the almond groves planted around the city. Unfortunately, this part of the city is being rebuilt and is closed to the public. Pottery in Madinat al-Zahra Finally we highly recommend a visit to the Museum of Madinat al-Zahra (page 37) where visitors can enjoy an incredible collection of pottery pieces found in Madinat al- Zahra. We must not forget that Muslims were true masters in the production of ceramic and developed a powerful industry in Al-Andalus. Madinat al-Zahra Doe This small piece, valued as one of the masterpieces of Hispano- Muslim Art, was placed in a fountain of the palatine city. Expert Historians consider that this piece was not alone but was part of a set of figures like the Lions Courtyard in Granada. Three pieces of this set have been found so far: one is exhibited in the Visitor Museum of Madinat al-Zahra, another is in the Archaeological Museum in Madrid and the third one was bought by an Arab sheik (4 million US dollars) and is exhibited in the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar. CORDOBA The Rich Lounge Building Cordoba in the tenth C After the death of Abderraman III, Cordoba had almost half a million inhabitants, a huge city for those times, topped only by Baghdad. In addition, the city had about 300 public baths and 700 mosques, which is really difficult to imagine today. The University of Cordoba was, at that time, considered as the true center of the universal wisdom: many philosophers, theologian, physicians came to Cordoba to learn from the great Masters, contributing to enrich the cultural life of Cordoba. Madinat al-Zahra Aljama Mosque Remains Yafar House Bread Oven Cordoba in the tenth Century
  16. 16. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 16 Zoomorphic Figure According to some experts, this figure may be a giraffe because of its proportions, especially for its long neck. Archaeologists believe that this figure was used as a pitcher to hold some kind of liquid and pour it into glasses. The piece was stolen from Madinat al- Zahra and, after traveling throughout Europe, was put up for sale in a famous Auction House in United Kingdom where the Andalusian Government purchased it for 220,000€. Calahorra Tower Guadalquivir River was a strategic point and allowed quick and easy access to the city so Muslims, shortly after conquering Cordoba, realized that it was essential to protect this part of the city if they wanted to develop Cordoba. Originally, Muslims built two defensive and interconnected towers but in 1369, during Christian times, the King Enrique II of Trastamara built a third tower. This defensive system was really powerful and included deep moat, solid walls, catapults and numerous arrow loops through which the soldiers could fire in case of invasion. The interior consists of 14 rooms divided into 3 floors. Over the centuries, the Tower of Calahorra served many different purposes: from jail to school. Today the building has become the Al- Andalus Living Museum which offers a wonderful journey into the past. The different exhibitions on continuous display show the coexistence in Cordoba of the three major religions: Muslims, Jews and Christians. Almodovar Gate During the Muslim domination Cordoba was surrounded by large walls which had seven access gates. Almodovar Gate was one of them. This Gate provided access to the old town, protected the city from attacks and allowed the authorities to develop effective control measures over trade. The current Almodovar Gate (the original Muslim gate was destroyed by effects of time) was built in the 14 th century, during Christian times. If we enter the Old town through this Gate, we will find the popular Judios Street which leads to the wonderful Synagogue (built in 1315). In 1950 a statue of Seneca, Roman philosopher born in Cordoba, was placed near the gate. Walking down Cairuan Street we can enjoy a nice stroll along the original city wall built in Muslim times. Not far from here you can visit another medieval city gate called Puerta de Sevilla. Andalusí House Wonderful house built in a Hispanic-Muslim style and located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter (Juderia), pretty near the Synagogue. When we cross the door, we are back in the 12 th century: admire the beautiful courtyards, the collection of Arabic coins or the replica of the first paper machine which came to Europe from Asia. We recommend a visit! Martos Mill The Arabs were true experts in hydraulic engineering: wells, bridges, mills, irrigation system etc. All these technological advances greatly helped develop agriculture and generated wealth in Andalusia. One of these wonderful works of engineering was the Martos Mill. Wheat came to town from other provinces and was transported to this mill where a complex hydraulic system generated a force Did you know…? The great Giralda Tower (Seville), one of the icons of Andalusia and Spain, was built, in part, using stones which came from the palatine city Madinat al-Zahra. Madinat al-Zahra How to get Madinat al-Zahra There is a daily bus service from downtown (Bus stop: Paseo de la Victoria, Glorieta Cruz Roja) to Madinat al-Zahra. From September 15 th to April 30 th Departures from Cordoba: 09:30, 10:15 / Saturday: 9:30, 10:15 and 15:00. Return from Madinat al-Zahra: 13:00 and 13:45 / Saturday 13:00, 13:45 and 18:30 From 2 nd May to September 15 th Departures from Cordoba: 10:15 and 17:00 / Sunday 09:30 and 10:15 Return from Madinat al-Zahra: 13:45 and 20:30 / Sunday 13:00 and 13:45 Prices: 7€ Children 5 to 12: 3.5€ Address: Puente Romano s/n (Al-Andalus Museum) Prices: General 4,5€/ Reduced 3€ / Multivision Slideshow 1,2€ (estimated duration: 2 hours) Opening Hours: From 1 st Oct to 30 th Apr (10:00-18:00) / From 1 st May to 30 th Sept (10:00-14:00 & 16:30-20:30) Prices: General 1,5€ / EU Citizens Free admission (shuttle bus from the bus stop to the archaeological site 2,15€) Opening Hours: From 16 th September to 30 th April (10:00 – 18:30) / From 1 st May to 15 th September (10:00-20:30) Sunday and Bank Holidays (10:00-14:00) Calahorra Tower CORDOBA Almodovar Gate Address: Calle Puerta de Almodóvar Prices: - Opening Hours: - Address: Calle Judios 12 Prices: 2.5€ Opening Hours: 10:00-19:30
  17. 17. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 17 capable of moving five large stones which ground grain into flour. When the city was conquered by Christian armies, the mill continued to fulfill its function, so important to “cordobeses”. Today the building has become the Hydraulic Museum where visitors can learn how these kinds of mills worked and the different uses they have. Muslim Suburbs Arrabal was the name by which Muslim neighborhoods were known. Cordoba had up to 21 Arrabales, exceeding the limits of the current city. These neighborhoods were a maze of narrow streets and old squares and had their own mosques, souks, cemeteries and even a wastewater network which was really unthinkable in other parts of Europe where people lived in conditions far worse. If you want to visit an original old Arab neighborhood, you can see the remains of Saqunda crossing the Roman Bridge, in the Miraflores Park. This neighborhood was the most populous in Cordoba and housed the Grand Souk of the city, where thousands of people came to buy fabrics, spices, groceries... In 818 there was a serious uprising in Saqunda because of economic and social reasons. Subsequently, other neighbors joined, leading to a global uprising difficult to quell. Al Hakam didn’t know how to tackle this difficult situation and viciously crushed the revolt. Immediately thereafter, he sent the inhabitants of Saqunda outside Cordoba (they had to migrate to other cities such as Toledo, Fez or Alexandria). Finally the entire neighborhood was razed and the Caliph prohibited the construction of other neighborhoods in the area. Arab Houses Arab houses tried to follow an introverted style: simple on the outside and luxurious on the inside. Houses usually were built with an inner courtyard around which there were several rooms with different uses. When people gathered to eat the families placed rugs and cushions which were put away when they had finished. Souks The Souk, Market or Bazaar was one of the most important parts of an Islamic city; each neighborhood had its own souk or bazaar where people could buy spices, textiles, meat, olive oil, etc. Every souk had its own security, called "muhtasib", who was in charge of guarding the souk and observed whether the standards in the souk were met. The Grand Souk of Cordoba was located in Saqunda neighborhood but after the rebellion of 818, the Souk was moved inside the walls (“Medina” in Arabic). In 936 a great fire destroyed the Souk and the nearby streets, causing numerous deaths. Finally in the 11 th century the Souk was relocated in the East part of the city which was a safer and had better access. According to Arabic literature, Cordoba had more than 80,000 stalls throughout the city (including all Souks) which allows us to imagine the grandeur of the Capital of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba. CORDOBA Address: Paseo de la Ribera s/n Prices: General 2€/ Reduced 1.30€ Opening Hours: 09:30-14:00 Guided Tours from 09:45 The Mysterious Arquillos Street Very close from de la Feria Street and Miraflores Bridge is located one of the most mysterious spots in Cordoba: Arquillos Street, popularly known as Calle Cabezas (Head Street). The street in question is scene of a mysterious legend about Gonzalo Gustioz, Lord of Salas (Burgos). During the Middle Ages, Spain was engaged in a bloody war between the Muslim Empire (Al-Andalus) and the Christian kingdoms (North Spain). The children of Gonzalo Gustioz were expert medieval soldiers, well-trained to kill Muslims. Turning to the legend in hand, during the wedding ceremony between Ruy Velazquez (bother-in-law of Gonzalo Gustioz) and Mrs Lambra, the two families clashed violently and a cousin of the bride was killed by Gonzalo Gonzalez (one of the sons of the Lord of Salas). The couple, full of hatred and thirsty for revenge, decided cruelly to take revenge. Ruy Velazquez sent Gonzalo Gustioz to Cordoba with a strange letter written in Arabic, a language Lord of Salas did not speak. When Gonzalo Gustioz gave the letter to Al Mansur, leader of Al-Andalus, he was surprised. The letter said: “Kill the carrier”. Fortunately, Al Mansur was benevolent and decided to imprison him in a house located on the current Arquillos Street. Ruy Velazquez, not satisfied with this, hatched a plan with several Muslim Lords to kill the seven children of Gonzalo Gustioz. Shortly after, the heads of the seven infants and their mentor appeared right in front of the house where Gonzalo Gustioz was imprisoned. Each morning the Lord of Salas could see from his window the heads of his beloved children. While he was incarcerated, Gustioz Gonzalo had sexual intercourse with Al Mansur´s sister and together gave birth to a child who later would avenge the death of his half-brothers. Address: Miraflores Park Prices: - Opening Hours: Closed to tourists Averroes (Cordoba, 1126 - Marrakech, 1198) Al-Andalus and Medicine The most developed science in Al-Andalus was certainly medicine. The government monitored the activity of physicians, veterinarians, opticians and drug makers. Medicine reached a point in its development where even medication guides were written. These guides defined a doctor as: "comprehensive, friendly, good, able to endure insults and adverse criticism. Someone who keeps his hair and fingernails short, wears clean white clothes and behaves with dignity ". The Arabs built the first hospitals and psychiatric hospitals open 24 hours, where the hygienic conditions were excellent, much better than some current third world hospitals. An example of the enormous development of medicine in Al- Andalus is the fact that Al Gafiqi invented the eyeglasses in the 12 th Century. You can see a bust of Al Gafiqi in front of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. Old Town Al-Andalus and Medicine The Mystery of Arquillos Street
  18. 18. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 18 Siege and Conquest of Cordoba In February 1235, the Christian troops arrived in the vicinity of Cordoba. King Fernando III decided to settle in the south of the city to prevent reinforcements from other Muslim cities. For over 4 months, the Christian forces surrounded and besieged Cordoba, creating a very difficult situation for its citizens. Finally, on the 30 th of June the city of Cordoba, without supplies and without forces, surrendered to the power of the Christian army. The conquest of Cordoba by the Christian army became a news event with a global impact. People in all European Kingdoms talked about this heroic deed: Cordoba one of the world's major cities had been conquered by the Christians, something that certainly would change the history of southern Europe. Cordoba was the first major Andalusian city conquered by the Christian troops so the celebration was tremendous: a military parade crossed the Roman Bridge. After that, the troops entered through the Bridge Gate and went to the Mosque. Once there, they walked three times around the perimeter of the Mosque and blessed it with holy water. Then, they went to the Gate of Forgiveness where the Archbishop opened the Gate and entered with the sacred cross. Next day the King arrived in Cordoba and the celebration continued few days more. Once conquered the city, Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together more or less peacefully. Later (1492), Christians Kings issued a decree to expel Jews and Muslims: if the Christian troops discovered Muslim or Jewish families, they were expelled immediately from the country. Large areas of Andalusia were repopulated with Christians from the center and north Spain. Fortress of the Christian Kings (Alcazar) Previously, this area was occupied by the Customs House and the Roman Governor's Mansion. Later, Muslims built the old Alcazar which unfortunately was abandoned, looted and destroyed. The current military building was constructed using remains of the old Alcazar by order of the King Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328. Catholic Kings (Fernando II of Aragon and Isabel I of Castile) were ones of the most illustrious guests in the history of the Alcazar: they lived here for 8 years overseeing the conquest of Granada from the Muslims. Thanks to the stay of the Kings in Cordoba, the city became an important center of power. Shortly after, Columbus negotiated in this building with The Catholic Kings the funds required for his expedition that later would lead to the discovery of America (you can see a statue of The Catholic Kings and Columbus in one of the gardens of the Alcazar). After the conquest of Granada, The Catholic Kings left Cordoba and the building was handed over to the Catholic Church, until 1812. Since then the Alcazar was used as civil prison until 1931. Finally, in 1955, the City Council of Cordoba took definitive possession of the building and nowadays the Alcazar hosts civil weddings and guitar concerts, becoming one of the most visited monuments in the city. The Building The building has a rectangular shape and is surrounded by a powerful wall. At the same time, there is a tower on each corner to protect the fortress against possible attacks. Unfortunately, only two of them remain: Torre del Homenaje (Tower of Homage) and Torre de los Leones (Tower of Lions). The current entrance to the Royal Fortress is located in the Tower of Lions, the best preserved of all the towers. When you enter through this gate, you must turn left to begin the visit. Mosaic Room This room, used as a chapel during Inquisition and later as a prison chapel, is decorated with wonderful roman mosaics found in Corredera Square. Near the entrance we can see a roman mosaic of Oceanus, son of Uranus and Gaia. The largest mosaic is located in the left part of the room and is composed of geometric shapes and figures, dolphins and anchors. In the left entrance there is an interesting mosaic of a mime during a performance. On the right side of the room, we can see an incomplete mosaic representing the four seasons, a theme tremendously popular in the Roman world. After visiting the Mosaic Room we must climb the stairs which CORDOBA Alhaken II: The Educated Caliph Alhaken II is universally considered as the most educated and devoted Caliph during Al-Andalus times: it is said among historians and experts and indeed reason, that he gave his life for his people. From his childhood, the best philosophers and teachers of Cordoba contributed to the education of Alhaken II. Some old Arab writings reveal his passion for literature and science. When he came to power, Alhaken II usually sent officials to Damascus or Cairo in search of books that he couldn’t find in Cordoba (his personal library counted 400,000 volumes). During his mandate, the Caliph founded 25 public schools in Cordoba to facilitate education of children from disadvantaged families. At the same time, he funded medication for the poor and the sick which was truly amazing at that time. Christian Cordoba Christian part of the Mosque Christian part of the Mosque Did you know…? Christopher Columbus lived an intense romance in Cordoba. The illustrious explorer and colonizer lived in the city for several years trying to convince the Catholic Kings to raise funds for his expedition to America: meetings between Columbus and the Kings in the Alcazar were frequent but The Catholic Kings did not have much faith in this expedition and refused to fund it. Columbus ended up living in deplorable conditions and began to work selling books for sailors to survive. During these years Columbus met Beatriz Enriquez de Arana, a humble weaver. Both fell in love and had a child, Hernando or Fernando Colon. When Christopher Columbus returned from America (1493), he granted a pension to Beatriz and they both went their separate ways. However, the fate draws them back together when Columbus died: the Spanish explorer left a vast fortune to his exbeloved. Alhaken II: The Educated Caliph
  19. 19. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 19 lead us to the top of the Tower of Lions. From there visitors can cross the small corridor to reach the Tower of Homage, unfortunately not open to the public. From up here we can enjoy a unique view of old town Cordoba: admire the Mosque, the narrow and winding streets of the Jewry, the beautiful gardens of the Alcazar and the Guadalquivir River. After these romantic views, we must return to the main entrance of the fortress to continue our visit. Then, go down the stairs to visit the Royal Baths. Royal Baths The Royal Baths were rebuilt by Alfonso XI for his wife, who spent long periods in Cordoba. These Royal Baths were designed in such a way that each room had a different use: rest room, dressing room, hot water room, boilers, etc. The water came from the Tower of Homage where was built a cistern that collected rainwater and supplied water to the different rooms of the Baths through a complex system of pipes. Moorish Courtyard The same staircase leads us now to the “Patio Morisco” (Moorish Courtyard). Alfonso XI built this beautiful Courtyard basing on the model of a Moorish garden. To complete the design of the garden the Caliph needed the assistance of Muslim artists that brought trees and plants from Middle East countries. The garden was divided into four parts by a corridor that crossed the garden from east to west and from north to south. In the middle of the Courtyard was placed a beautiful fountain. In the eastern part of the Moorish Courtyard there is a building constructed in the 20 th century which was designed to expand the number of cells for prisoners, remember that the Alcazar was used as a jail during many years. In the western part there is a gate that leads to the wonderful gardens of the Alcazar. Alcazar Gardens In Arab times there were already few beautiful gardens designed for the Harem of the Caliph but in tenth century Abderraman III decided to move his official Residence to Medina al- Zahra, which was a place much more luxurious than the old Alcazar. This decision led to the abandonment and destruction of the gardens. A century later, the Christian Kings built the new Alcazar and the gardens regained its glory and beauty. The current gardens were arranged in three levels: there are ditches, canals, fountains, small ponds with fishes, fruit trees and beautiful gardens on both sides. CORDOBA Panoramic Views from Tower of Homage Alcazar Walls Alcazar Gardens Address: Calle Caballerizas Reales s/n Prices: General 4.5€ / Reduced 2.25€ / Free Admission: Tuesday to Friday (08:30-10:30). Opening Hours: From 16 th Sept to 15 th Jun (08:30-19:30) Saturday (09:30-16:30) Sunday (09:30-14:30).Monday closed. From 16 th Jun to 15 th Sept (08:30-14:30) Sunday (09:30- 14:30). Monday closed After lengthy negotiations, The Catholic Kings, especially Queen Isabel I, agreed to finance the expedition of Christopher Columbus (1492) who wanted to find a new route to Asia, which would encourage trade and increase goods transportation between the two continents. In early 1492 Columbus was in Huelva organizing all the preparations for the expedition, leaving no stone unturned. Despite the extensive maritime knowledge of Columbus, we cannot forget the invaluable help of important figures such as Alonso Pinzon or Pero Vazquez de la Frontera, who participated in the design of the expedition. Finally, on August 3 three huge galleons (Santa Maria, La Pinta and La Niña) left the port of Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) with more than 90 men on board. The expedition made a stopover in the Canary Islands where one of the galleons underwent repairs. Shortly after, the galleons set sail again and entered definitively into the Atlantic Ocean. After several months sailing, on October 12, 1492 Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor born in Seville, shouted "Land ho!”. Columbus and his expedition had arrived in America. The first island they sighted was Gunahani (Bahamas). Later, the expedition went to Cuba, Dominican Republic and finally Haiti. On December 25, shortly before returning to Spain, one of the galleons ran aground (Santa Maria) and became useless. Finally on January 16, 1493, the two remaining galleons returned to Europe laden with gold, slaves, endemic plants... During the return trip, the expedition suffered a severe storm and almost wrecked. As a result of this terrible storm, the galleons lost their way, separated and followed different routes. Months later, Columbus arrived at the Port of Lisbon (La Niña) and Martin Alonso Pinzon (La Pinta) arrived in Bayonne. Unfortunately, Martin Alonso Pinzon died shortly after returning to the Old Continent. On April 29, 1493 Columbus published a letter in Barcelona announcing the discovery of the new continent. In 1500 Juan de la Cosa designed in Puerto de Santamaria (Cadiz) the first map of the Americas. This map is preserved in the Naval Museum of Madrid. In 1530 Hernando Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, wrote an extensive biography of his father. The Christian Kings and Columbus (Alcazar Gardens) Discovery of America
  20. 20. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 20 Royal Stables (Caballerizas Reales) King Felipe II was a great lover of horses and nature. One of his obsessions was to get the perfect horse breed: with this in mind, he created the Royal Stables in Cordoba (1570). For years and years veterinaries and experts were crossing different breeds to create a horse of Arab descent with great quality and beauty. This horse was called "Andalusian horse”. Currently, the city of Cordoba is trying to restore the culture of the horse in this building. To this end, beautiful Equestrian events are held every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Perhaps the most relevant part of the complex is the main stable and its beautiful vault. Along the walls of the building, Cordoba Police has an authorized area to keep the horses, feed them, and ride them. San Rafael Archangel Monument San Rafael Archangel is one of the most beloved religious figures in Cordoba. The city is full of references to the Saint: next to the Triumphal Arch, a statue located in the Roman Bridge, San Rafael Bridge, the Football Stadium (called Archangel). The devotion to San Rafael began in the sixteenth century, when the city was hit by a horrible epidemic. According to testimonies, San Rafael appeared to a clergyman and told him he would save the city. Shortly after that, the epidemic disappeared mysteriously. The most famous statue of San Rafael in Cordoba is located near the Bridge Gate, within a fenced enclosure. This beautiful monument was constructed between 1765 and 1781 and funded by the Catholic Church. During its construction were set free more than 8,000 prisoners to finish the monument. Currently “cordobeses” celebrate San Rafael’s day on October 24 th : families gather and go on a picnic in countryside. Chapel of San Bartolome This beautiful spot, unknown to many “Cordobeses”, well worth a visit. Nowadays, the chapel of San Bartolome is integrated in the current Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, old Hospital. At the end of the fourteenth century, the district was Christianized, and a small parish, dedicated to San Bartolome, was built (1399- 1410). To visit the chapel, visitors should go through a small whitewashed courtyard with a huge palm tree, one of the oldest in Cordoba. In this courtyard there are two doors: one of them provides access to the Chapel of San Bartolome and the other one leads to a room closed to tourists. According to experts, this room once served as a sacristy. The exterior of the chapel is sober, without much decoration, which contrasts with the interior of the chapel where decoration is truly amazing (vaults, plaster, tile, beautiful baseboards etc.). The small chapel has a rectangular shape, dominated by the presbytery. The interior decoration is rich and varied: Palace of the Marquis of Carpio King Fernando III was fully aware of the need to protect the city walls and the Guadalquivir River, the main access point for the city. As part of its plan to defend the city, the King designed this fortification which, shortly after its construction, was donated to the family Mendez de Sotomayor. Gradually, the fortification was becoming a beautiful palace with romantic gardens and patios worthy of a King. During the first half of the twentieth century the palace underwent several renovations and reforms which led to the discovery of remains of an ancient Roman house in the basement of the building. Despite being closed to tourists, we can take a look through the gates. Square of the Colt (Plaza Del Potro) Small historic square located near Guadalquivir River. This place is really very popular in Cordoba and much frequented by locals and tourist groups. In the middle of the square there is a small fountain with a colt that gives the square its name. The square in question was built in 1577 when the neighborhood enjoyed a frenetic commercial activity: craft workshops, food stores, taverns, inns for visitors and dealers ... “Posada del Potro” (Inn of the Colt) is located in the eastern part of the square. This popular inn was mentioned in “Don Quixote” (Miguel de Cervantes), one of the mythic works of Spanish literature. According to chronicles of the Royal Stables Address: Calle Caballerizas Reales 1 Prices: Free admission Opening Hours: 10:30-13:30 & 17:00-21:00 / Sundays 10:00- 12:00 / Tuesday Closed Address: Calle San Fernando Prices: - Opening Hours: - Square of the Colt San Rafel Archangel Monument Address: Next to the Bridge Gate Prices: - Opening Hours: - CORDOBA Address: Faculty of Philosophy and Literature Prices: Free admission Opening Hours: From 15 th Sept to 14 th Jun (10:30-13:30 & 15:30- 18:30) / From 15 th Jun to 14 th Sept (10:30-13:30 & 17:30-20:30) / Sunday afternoon & Monday morning closed
  21. 21. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 21 time, “Posada del Potro” was in fact a brothel: this activity was authorized by the Government back then. During the nineteenth century, commercial activity of the neighborhood was progressively decreasing and many businesses shut down. In this context, “Posada del Potro” was abandoned and later acquired by the Local Government. Today the building houses the Flamenco Museum which is a reference point for all lovers of Flamenco. In the western part of the square visitors can enjoy the Museum of Fine Arts and Julio Romero de Torres Museum, where are exhibited works of the famous painter Julio Romero de Torres, born in Cordoba in 1874. Corredera Square Corredera Square, located in the heart of the city, is probably one of the most famous icons of Cordoba. The Square was designed as the typical squares of central Spain: if you visit Madrid, Salamanca or Burgos you will find places very similar to this square that reveal the origin of the architect. During many years, this grandiose Baroque square, unique in Andalusia, was a fundamental part of public life in the city: Bullfights, religious events as well as parades or executions took place here. Even there were a hat factory and a food market where people from all over the city came to buy groceries. Currently, it is a perfect place to have a drink in one of the bars, have a nice stroll or take a look at the many shops. The square was built in 1683 by architect Antonio Ramos Valdes, born in Salamanca. Since then, the square has undergone numerous changes and improvement works that have helped beautify this typical spot. For much of the twentieth century, this area of Cordoba was not very recommended: prostitutes, drunkards, swindlers, pusher and pimps frequented the square and surrounding streets. Fortunately, thanks to the improvement works carried out by the City Council, this square has become an icon of Cordoba and Andalusia and one of the most visited places in the city. In 1959, beautiful Roman mosaics were discovered during routine works to improve the square. Nowadays, these Mosaics are exhibited at the Fortress of the Christian Kings (page 18). Once a year, the City Hall organizes a Medieval Market with actors dressed up as artisans and soldiers, ecological food stalls, handicrafts... Compañia Square Probably this small square doesn´t appears in many travel guides or tourist circuits but its romantic essence and humble appearance well worth a visit. The square, located just 100 meters from Tendillas Square, is dominated by four main buildings: West: El Salvador y Santo Domingo de Silos Church and Santa Catalina School. South: Santa Victoria Church. East: Old Church of Santo Domingo. El Salvador y Santo Domingo de Silos Church This beautiful church was built in the fifteenth century and boasts a Inn of the Colt CORDOBA Address: Plaza Del Potro Prices: - Opening Hours: - Corredera Square Address: Plaza de la Corredera Prices: - Opening Hours: - The Orive Palace is a beautiful Renaissance building designed in 1560 by Hernan Ruiz II. Unfortunately, since its inauguration a mysterious legend haunts the palace for centuries: according to the stories, this palace, Official Residence of Charles of Ucel and his daughter, hided a wonderful treasure. A cold night few Jews knocked on the door of the palace asking for shelter. Charles of Ucel, benevolent and pious man, hosted them and gave them food. But these “guests” knew very well that this palace hided lot of money and gold. During the night, the Jews lit candles in the room where he pretended to sleep and began to pray in Hebrew. At that same moment the earth opened up and the Jews descended. The daughter of Charles of Ucel, who was hidden, watched as the “guests” returned with a large amount of gold. The next day the Jews left the palace and said goodbye to Charles of Ucel. Shortly after, his daughter decided have a try: she lit candles, began to pray quietly and suddenly the earth opened up shaking the room. The young girl and her maid descended but dramatically earth swallowed them. Fortunately the maid escaped at the last second and told the father what had happened. The father started digging around to find his beloved daughter, but it was useless, the earth had swallowed the girl for all eternity. Several centuries have passed since then but, according to the neighbors, they still today hear the screams of a terrified young woman at night and candles are consumed strangely fast. True or not, despite being abandoned, the house transmits a feeling hard to explain with words. Curiously, the current owners have tried numerous times to sell the building and no one dares to buy it. Actually the palace is used to hold various cultural events. Address: Plaza de Orive, 2 Prices: Free Admission Opening Hours: Tuesday- Friday (08:30-14:30) Corredera Square The Legend of the Orive Palace
  22. 22. Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 22 beautiful Baroque altarpiece designed by Teodosio Sanchez. Santa Catalina School (Real Escuelas Pias) Santa Catalina School (1604) was founded and promoted by Juan Fernandez de Cordoba (local religious authority) for the Jesuit Order. The Marquise Catalina Fernandez de Cordoba contributed large amounts of money to carry out the project. The current building we see today was built in 1701 as unfortunately, the old building had to be demolished by the poor state of preservation. Inside the School we can see a wonderful baroque staircase. Santa Victoria Church This church was built in the eighteenth century in a neoclassical style. Especial mention should be made of the magnificent dome and the exceptional staircase made of black and red marble. Take a look! Old Church of Santo Domingo (Provincial Historical Archive) Currently this building houses the Provincial Historical Archive but formerly the Church of Santo Domingo was located here. This old church was built shortly after that Fernando III conquered the city (1236), so it is one of the oldest churches in Cordoba. Don´t miss the Chapel of the Conception and the bell tower, really beautiful. Finally the square is dominated by a statue of the Archangel San Rafael which was placed the on top of four marble columns. Christ of the Lanterns (Cristo de los Faroles) In Capuchinos Square we can visit a place of devotion and pilmigrage for all “cordobeses”. The best moment to visit Capuchinos Square is, undoubtedly, during Holy Week when many people come here to pray, place candles and sing songs in order to worship Christ and prove his devotion. Christ of the Lanterns was built in 1794 by Juan Navarro Leon. On the contrary, the surrounding gates were added in the twentieth century. Capuchinos Monastery & San Jacinto Hospital - De los Dolores Church During the seventeenth and eighteenth century were built two humble buildings which beautify this romantic and melancholic square (Capuchinos Square), located in the city center. Capuchinos Monastery In 1633 this religious building was built over an ancient neighborhood. The monks of the Capuchin Order (founded by St. Francis of Assisi) lived here and cultivated vegetables and fruits that later they used as food. In addition, monks received alms from citizens that help to maintain the building. In the mid-nineteenth century the building was expropriated by the Government and large parts of the monastery were demolished. Fortunately, the church of the monastery has been preserved. San Jacinto Hospital – De los Dolores Church In the year 1710 the old Hospital of San Jacinto was built (take a look to the right of the Christ of the Lanterns).This building hides a tragic story: terminally ill patients were moved here where they waited for death in the gloomy rooms. Shortly after (1728), De los Dolores Church was built and integrated within the Hospital complex. As we can see the two buildings had different entrances. Santa Marina Church When Fernando III defeated the Muslims and conquered the city (1235), he decided to build a number of churches which are called “Fernandinas Churches”. Santa Marina was one of them. This beautiful church (thirteenth century) is considered the oldest church in the city and one of the oldest in Andalusia. This wonderful religious building is located in Santa Marina district, Old Church of Santo Domingo Santa Victoria Church Christ of the Lanterns Address: Plaza de la Compañia Prices: - Opening Hours: - Address: Plaza de Capuchinos Prices: - Opening Hours: - Capuchinos Monastery San Jacinto Hospital - De los Dolores Church Address: Plaza de Capuchinos Prices: - Opening Hours: - CORDOBA