A Day And A Half In Córdoba
13th November 2017My residency in Spain coupled with the lack of working hours has afforded me the luxury of exploring the country I adore. Córdoba was the first of hopefully plenty of mini-breaks that I’ll be taking during the next six months or so, and I’ll be taking you along with me! The journey from my home city of Granada took approximately two and a half hours on the bus, and cost just ten euros each way. I arrived at midday on a Saturday and left at 5pm the next day, however luckily the city is small enough to be traversed by foot so I was able to see a lot in my short time.
A number of styles exist within the fabric of the palace. Photo by Barney Sheppard Gardens at the Alcázar De Los Reyes Cristianos. Photo by Barney Sheppard The view from Alcázar De Los Reyes Cristianos. Photo by Barney SheppardDuring Saturday afternoon I visited the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, a palace and former fortress that many previous rulers of Córdoba have called home. It contains a range of architectural styles, from Roman to Visigoth to Arabic, demonstrating the rich diversity of the city and its development throughout history. The views from the tower are particularly stunning, as is the symmetrical garden. Tickets cost just 4.50€, or 2.25€ if you’re a student; well worth it for an afternoon of engagement.
For dinner I went to a pizzeria called La Fabbrica. It’s a fun and quirky independent restaurant and the pizza was spot on. Despite sitting alone I never felt pressured by the staff to leave, even when it got busy and they had to start turning people away.
Beautiful symmetry. Photo by Barney Sheppard A forest of arches. Photo by Barney Sheppard The ceiling is almost as impressive as the arches. Photo by Barney Sheppard Patio De Los Naranjos. Photo by Barney SheppardSunday began with the most anticipated part of my trip, a visit to La Mezquita. Since I first saw photographs of the building during my time at university I have wanted to go, and it didn’t disappoint. The forest of arches is truly unique, and the way light plays off the strong red paint and soft cream stone is beautiful. The scale of the building is lost in photos, its footprint is absolutely huge, and the arches at least a couple of stories tall. A pleasing aspect I noticed was how the older arches are worn and faded and the newer ones brighter with sharp edges, giving a hint of the development of the building. My description of La Mezquita can’t do it justice, it has to be seen in person and is relatively cheap with tickets costing just eight euros. I would recommend going during the early morning when most other people are asleep. I visited on Sunday morning at 8:30 when it opened, and for a short time I was the only person there, which was a wonderful experience. Also worthy of your time is Patio de Los Naranjos, the courtyard within La Mezquita. It’s a lovely place to sit and people watch, and its free!
The mysterious appearance of the Puente Romano in the morning haze. Photo by Barney Sheppard Night-time view of the Puente Romano. Photo by Barney SheppardNext to La Mezquita is Puente Romano, a bridge first built in the first century BC. Traversing the Guadalquivir River, it is an interesting monument that provides pretty views down the river and back towards La Mezquita. As you can see above, its aesthetic changes considerably depending on the weather, with the early morning fog adding a sense of mystery.
My final stop before catching the bus home was Palacio de Viana, a palace with a 500 year history and collection of gorgeous courtyards. I chose the cheaper five euro ticket which grants access to the twelve courtyards and allows you to explore without a tour guide. I have chosen not to show any photos because the surprise of discovering each courtyard is part of the joy of this attraction. It was lovely to wander amongst the variety of trees, flowers, fountains and architectural styles on show, and I expect the experience would be even more visceral in high summer. I would recommend Palacio de Viana over Alcázar de Los Reyes if you’re pushed for time, as it seems more well done and had more substance in my opinion.
Córdoba is well worth a visit, for La Mezquita if nothing else. However, there is much more to the city than the UNESCO World Heritage site. Its narrow walkable streets are a joy to explore and the greenery of the parks are a pleasing surprise in dusty Andalucia. Whilst I didn’t go in summer, during that time of year there is a tradition and festival dedicated to creating stunning courtyards of bright flowers which I imagine would be incredible. Perhaps forgotten due to its bigger neighbours Seville and Granada, Cordóba is an underrated Spanish gem that I would urge anyone to visit.