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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
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
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.
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-
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.
Javier Redondo firstname.lastname@example.org
Layout & Design
What to visit
Roman Cordoba 7
Islamic Cordoba 9
Christian Cordoba 18
Jewish Cordoba 25
Modern Cordoba 27
Where to stay
Priego de Cordoba
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
All these infrastructure improvements have allowed the city to enter
the twenty-first century, boosting business and tourism.
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
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.
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
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,
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).
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
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
Length of journey:
Madrid: 1hour 45 minutes
Seville: 40 minutes
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,
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.
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 Train Station
Distances from Cordoba
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 4
Cordoba has an excellent
bus service: 16 bus lines
that connect the
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.
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
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
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
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.
From Train Station €0.53
Packets above 60 cm €0.51
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.
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.
Local Time: Central European
Official Language: Spanish
Local Currency: €
Measurement System: Metric System
Religion: Secular State. 70% of the population is
Dailing Code: 0034 957
Electricity Supply: 220V
Emergency Telephone Number: 112
Old Town Police Station: Address Calle Juda Leví s/n
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:
Official Web: www.turismodecordoba.org/
Cordoba Card: Discounts in sights, museums, public
transport etc. (6 different types to choose from €15 to
Guided Tours: Cordoba Vision (Tel: 957231734)
Train Station: Address Glorieta de last tres Culturas
Central Post Office: Address: Cruz Conde. (Tel:
Tips: Not compulsory.
Bank Holidays: January 1
, January 6
, February 28
Good Friday , May 1
, August 15
, September 8
, October 24
, November 1
, December 8
, December 25
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
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 5
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Travel Guides by Local Experts
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
cultures, races and
Muslims, Jews and
Christians friendly lived
each other and
providing an example
hard to find in the
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.
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
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
Year 411: Corduba is sacked by Vandals (barbarians from
Northern Europe) who conquered the city and expelled the
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
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
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:
In front of Fortress of the Christian Kings
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
Additional information on sights, cultural information, gastronomy at: http://www.turismodecordoba.org
What to Visit
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.
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
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
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.
Lucio Anneo Séneca
(Cordoba, 4 a. C. - Rome, 65)
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
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
Opening Hours: -
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
one to replace
The works were
one of the best
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
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
On Victoria Avenue we can find a great example of Roman
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
Opening Hours: Closed to tourists
Address: Ronda de Isasa s/n
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday (10:00-15:00) / Saturday,
Sunday and Bank Holidays (11:00-15:00)
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 9
the Empire: high quality marble and rich mosaics were used in its
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
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
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.
Theatres were very common in the Empire, almost each town had
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
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.
The Mosque of Cordoba is, without doubt, one of the most amazing
monuments in Europe and highly appreciated by the entire Muslim
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
occupied by an
land where the
Basilica was and destroyed it in order to
build his long-awaited Mosque.
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)
Opening Hours: Closed to tourists
Address: Plaza de Jerónimo Páez, 2 (Archaeological
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
Mosque of Cordoba
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 10
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
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
• 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
• 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
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 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.
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.
Mihrab of Alhaken II
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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.
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
In the Muslim religion the cleansing ritual or ablution is mandatory
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
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
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
The Courtyard, 130
meters long and 50
meters large, had to be
broadened several times
over the centuries to
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
, 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.
Supposed Sabat Gate
Orange Tree Courtyard
Orange Tree Courtyard
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.
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
Hernan Ruiz I
after, he died
and his son,
Hernan Ruiz II,
lasted until the
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
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
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
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
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
Century though in the 9
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
works took place. These
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
Christian part of the Mosque
Postigo de la Leche
Saint Stephen Gate
Holy Spirit Gate
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Postigo de Palacio (Palace Gate)
This gate dates from
the Caliphate of
Alhaken II .
Unfortunately, it was
restored later in
destroying part of the
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
Puerta de Santa Catalina (St.
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
This gate was built in 1377
under the reign of Enrique II whose shield can still be seen above the
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
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
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
improvement works were
needed again (Tomas Jerónimo
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
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
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,
nearest to the olive
tree. This action
would help them
find a husband.
Tunnel between the
It is said that during
the time of
there was a hidden
the Mosque of
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
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.
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".
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
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
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
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
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
The North Gate
controlled the entry
and exit of food
supplies and building
materials to and from
On one side of the
Gate there was a
for the soldiers. At the same time, a
downward path connected, via 4-gates, with the next level of the
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
On the western side of the
square were built the
stables. The Eastern part
houses the remains of some
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
whose mission was to
impress the guests of
Address: Calle Cardenal Herrero 1
Prices: General 8€/Reduced 4€/Children Free
Opening Hours: Nov-Feb (10:00-18:00) Mar-Oct (10:00-
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Address: Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires s/n
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The Military House
The Great Portico
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,
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
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
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
which was surrounded
by four pools.
On the eastern part of
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Aljama Mosque Remains
Cordoba in the tenth
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 16
According to some experts, this figure may be a giraffe because of its
especially for its long
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
Europe, was put up
for sale in a famous
Auction House in
purchased it for
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
This defensive system
was really powerful
and included deep
moat, solid walls,
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
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
If we enter the Old
town through this
Gate, we will find the
popular Judios Street
which leads to the
(built in 1315). In 1950
a statue of Seneca,
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.
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
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!
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.
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
to April 30
Departures from Cordoba: 09:30, 10:15 / Saturday: 9:30, 10:15
Return from Madinat al-Zahra: 13:00 and 13:45 / Saturday 13:00,
13:45 and 18:30
May to September 15
Departures from Cordoba: 10:15 and 17:00 / Sunday 09:30 and
Return from Madinat al-Zahra: 13:45 and 20:30 / Sunday 13:00 and
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
Oct to 30
Apr (10:00-18:00) / From
May to 30
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
September to 30
April (10:00 –
18:30) / From 1
May to 15
Sunday and Bank Holidays (10:00-14:00)
Address: Calle Puerta de Almodóvar
Opening Hours: -
Address: Calle Judios 12
Opening Hours: 10:00-19:30
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
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,
In 818 there was a serious
uprising in Saqunda
because of economic and
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
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.
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
Finally in the 11
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.
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
Address: Miraflores Park
Opening Hours: Closed to tourists
Averroes (Cordoba, 1126 -
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
Century. You can see a bust of Al Gafiqi in front of the
Faculty of Philosophy and Letters.
Al-Andalus and Medicine
The Mystery of Arquillos Street
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
of June the
city of Cordoba, without
supplies and without forces,
surrendered to the power of the
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
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 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.
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
After visiting the Mosaic Room we must climb the stairs which
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
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 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
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
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
The Royal Baths were
rebuilt by Alfonso XI
for his wife, who
spent long periods in
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.
The same staircase leads us now to the “Patio Morisco” (Moorish
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
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
In the eastern part of
the Moorish Courtyard
there is a building constructed in the 20
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.
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
destruction of the
A century later, the
Christian Kings built
the new Alcazar and
regained its glory
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.
Panoramic Views from Tower of Homage
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
Sept to 15
Saturday (09:30-16:30) Sunday (09:30-14:30).Monday
Jun to 15
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
Opening Hours: -
Square of the Colt
San Rafel Archangel Monument
Address: Next to the Bridge Gate
Opening Hours: -
Address: Faculty of Philosophy and Literature
Prices: Free admission
Opening Hours: From 15
Sept to 14
Jun (10:30-13:30 & 15:30-
18:30) / From 15
Jun to 14
Sept (10:30-13:30 & 17:30-20:30) /
Sunday afternoon & Monday morning closed
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 21
time, “Posada del Potro” was in fact a brothel: this activity was
authorized by the
then. During the
of the neighborhood
shut down. In this
context, “Posada del
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
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:
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
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
swindlers, pusher and
pimps frequented the
square and surrounding
thanks to the
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,
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
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
Address: Plaza Del Potro
Opening Hours: -
Address: Plaza de la Corredera
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)
The Legend of the Orive Palace
Cordoba www.mundo-guides.com Page 22
beautiful Baroque altarpiece
designed by Teodosio Sanchez.
Santa Catalina School (Real
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Santa Victoria Church
Christ of the Lanterns
Address: Plaza de la Compañia
Opening Hours: -
Address: Plaza de Capuchinos
Opening Hours: -
San Jacinto Hospital - De los
Address: Plaza de Capuchinos
Opening Hours: -