Mosques to visit in Spain

Mosques to visit in Spain

Mosques to visit in Spain

By Sakina Kamrudeen | 15, Nov, 2017

Magnificent Mosques of Spain
Spain has a long and colourful history, having first been conquered by the Roman Empire until the Middle Ages, when in the 8th century, Spain became a part of the ever-expanding Umayyad Caliphate. Although later, in the 15th century, Imperialism invaded Spain, followed by the wars for liberalization in the 18th century, leading to the Spanish civil war and finally establishing Spain as a Democracy.
This Islamic reign by the Muslim Moors in the Iberian Peninsula indelibly left its mark on modern-day Spain, resulting in the Spanish kingdom being dotted with some of the most beautiful mosques with an awe-inspiring architecture of that era. Thus, for the Muslim traveller on a holiday in Spain, some of the world’s most amazing Mosques await you. In fact, visiting these wonderous Spanish Mosques must be on the ‘to-do’ list for any Halal trip to Spain.
So, review these renowned Mosques, and locate them on your mobile, to experience a prayer place which has been standing for over a thousand years!

The Great Mosque of Córdoba

The Great Mosque of Córdoba located in the Spanish region of Andalusia was originally a small Christian Visigoth church. When the Moor Muslim’s came to rule Spain, Abd al-Rahman I ordered the construction of the Great Mosque in 784. This Mosque was further expanded by later Muslim rulers. This Mosque of Córdoba was important to the Islamic community of al-Andalus for three centuries. In 1236, Córdoba was converted to a Roman Catholic church. Since the early 21st century the Spanish Muslims have been lobbying the Roman Catholic church to allow them to pray at this site, but have however to date been denied permission.
In its heyday, the Great Mosque of Córdoba was used as the main place for prayer, it was also a hall for teaching Islam and the site for Sharia Law cases.

Architecture and Design

The architectural design of the Great Mosque of Córdoba is inspired by the Great Mosque of Damascus, the Dome of the Rock and the Aachen Cathedral. Architects also incorporate Roman columns of Gothic structure and others sent from different regions of Iberia as gifts. The Columns, arches and other decorative aspects of the Mosque were incorporated with ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass. Mosaics and azulejos were also incorporated in the design of the Mosque. The walls were also decorated with Quranic inscriptions. The mihrab of the Mosque was considered an architectural masterpiece with its geometric and flowing designs of plants.
However, when Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, the centre of the Great Mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. As time passed other Christian features were added such chapels and a nave. The minaret of the Mosque was also converted to the bell tower.

Interesting Facts

 

  • It is reported that Abd al-Rahman I is buried under the site of the Mosque.
  • Abd al-Rahman I initially named the Mosque ‘Aljama Mosque’ in honour of his wife.

MOSQUE Status

The Great Mosque of Córdoba was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as a part of the Historic Center of Córdoba in 1984.
Although Muslims are not allowed to pray at this Mosque, it is a must visit with its amazing architecture and remarkable historical significance.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 10:00 am to 06:00 pm | Sunday and Religious Festive Days – 9:00 am to 10:30 am and 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm.
Tickets: Guided Tours – 40 € per person and free for children under 8 years old | Tours without a Guide – 10 € per person, 5 € for children between 10-14 years old and free for children under 10 years old.
Click here for more information about The Mosque of Córdoba

Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz has remained nearly unchanged since its construction in 999 and is the only remaining former Moorish Mosque in the city of Toledo, Spain. Originally named the Mezquita Bab-al-Mardum, it is located near the Puerta del Sol, a city gate of Toledo, Spain, built in the late 14th century.

Architecture and Design

This Mosque was built over a Visigoth church measuring approximately 8m X 8m with four columns dividing the interior into nine parts. The designs in each of these nine parts are unique and follow Islamic design concepts. This Mosque, which was converted to a chapel in 1186, is constructed of brick and small stones. The overall architectural design and formation is a blend of Moorish style and local building techniques. However, much of its influence can be attributed to the caliphate in Córdoba and the Great Mosque of Córdoba.
After the conversion of the Mosque to a church, the qibla wall and mihrab were lost when an apse was built in the Mudejar architecture style. Today, this building also features many Christian themed decorations and murals of Christ and other figures.

MOSQUE Status

Today, this building functions as a church. However, Muslim travellers will get a feel the Mosque that it was, especially with the inscription in Kufic script on the facade of the building that reveals the details of the Mosque’s origin.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 am – 06:45 pm (March 1st to October 15th) | 10:00 – 05:45 pm (October 16th to February 28th).
Tickets: General – 2.80 € | Accredited Groups – 2.40 € | Free for under the age of 11.

Click here for more information about The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

The Mosque of Almonaster la Real

This Mosque was built in the 10th century from the origins of a Visigoth basilica of the 5th century. Hailed as one of the few surviving Spanish rural Mosques, it is an oddly shaped building made of brick and stone. This Mosque sits on top of a hill within the castle overlooking the village of Almonaster la Real in the province of Huelva, Spain. This beautifully preserved Mosque was converted to a church as Islamic rule changed to Christian rule. Over the centuries this Mosque has gone through numerous changes, but its Islamic features have been retained while new Christian elements were added on.

Architecture and Design

This Mosque was built during the reign of Abd al-Rahman III. It is trapezoidal in shape and has three parts – the prayer hall, the courtyard of ablutions, and the minaret tower. The prayer hall has five small naves. The central nave is covered by a half-sphere dome and brick arches. The courtyard of ablutions is built-into the facade of the rock. Most of the minaret has been built over due to the additions made over the years. The Mihrab, however, still stands, but has over the years lost its paint, and only the brick and stone remain today.

Interesting Facts

  • 16 undated tombs were found in the oration room of the Mosque.
  • The Mosque of Almonaster la Real is the focus of the annual ‘Jornadas de Cultura Islamica’ which takes place in the town of in Almonaster la Real in the month of October.

MOSQUE Status

Despite the changes over the years, the building retains its ‘Moorish character’ to date. It was declared a National Monument in 1931 and was further renovated between 1970 and 1973. The Mosque of Almonaster la Real is a must-visit place while on your Halal trip to Spain.
Opening Hours: Every day from 09.00 am to 08.30 pm.
Tickets: Entrance is free.

Click here for more information about The Mosque of Mezquita de Almonaster La Real

MOSQUE at Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera

Picture Credit – www.flickriver.com

The Mosque within the Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera in the is the Cadiz province of Spain is the only remaining one in the region from the original 18 Mosques. It was built in the 11th century but was converted to a church in the 13th century when the Christians conquered the region. The entire Fortress was designated as a world heritage site in 1931.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 09:30 am – 02:30 pm (October 1st to June 30th) | Monday to Friday 09:30 am – 05:30 pm (July 1st to September 30th) | Saturday and Sunday 09:30 am – 02:30 pm
Tickets: General – 5 € | Groups – 4 €
Click here for more information about Mezquita de Jerez

Other Former MOSQUES of Spain

Apart from the above famous historic Mosques of Spain, there are much more Mosques or Mezquita (as known in Spanish) which can be visited. While many have been converted to churches or put to other uses today, the architecture and splendour still remain. So, while holidaying in Spain and visiting these regions/cities, take the time to visit these magnificent mosques in Spain.
  • Mezquita de las Tornerías | Toledo, Spain
  • Santa Maria de la Sede Cathedral (also known as Seville Cathedral) | Seville, Spain

Modern Mosques in Spain

For those Muslim travellers are looking for Mosques with the express purpose of prayer, these modern Mosques of Spain are your answer. A quick search on Google Maps should give you its location.

Basharat Mosque


Address: Mezquita Basharat, 14630 Pedro Abad, Córdoba, Spain | Opened: 1982
Click here for more information about Basharat Mosque

Madrid Central Mosque


Address: Calle Anastasio Herrero, 5, 28020 Madrid, Spain | Opened: 1988
Click here for more information about Madrid Central Mosque

King Abdul Aziz Mosque

Picture Credit – marbellaazul.com

Address: s 29602, Urb. Lomas Marbella-S, 18, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain | Built: 1981
Click here for more information about King Abdul Aziz Mosque
Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.

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The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra

The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra

Madinat al-Zahra

The archaeological site of the Ummayad Caliphate in Cordoba

 

The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra is located approximately 5.5 km west of Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain

 

The city was founded in 940 or 941, by the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III as the seat of the newly created Caliphate of Córdoba. However, it was short-lived being destroyed in 1010 during the riots which brought about the end of this Caliphate. After slowly being abandoned and after the Christian occupation, the city fell into oblivion, so much so, that even its very existence was forgotten, thus converting it into an intangible mythical reference to the Golden Age in a faraway western point of Islam.

Madinat al-Zahra is currently part of the Tentative List in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Medina Al Zahra archeological site Cordoba Islamic Heritage

The significance of the archaeological site of Madinat al-Zahra:

The remains of a 10th-century city were hidden and their integrity has been unaltered. The Caliphs, Abd al-Rahman III and al-Hakam II were actually building the most monumental part of the Mosque in Córdoba (declared World Heritage in 1984) at the same time. In fact, the first excavations that took place were started by the architect who was actually restoring the Mosque in Córdoba, Velázquez Bosco. He began this work in order to have more insight into Andalusian Caliphal architecture to be able to better restore the Mosque.

 

Its unique values in the field of art, architecture, town planning and territorial layout. It includes some of the first and most important Islamic gardens ever known, as well as the fact that it represents a testimony, without comparison, of the culture and urban life at a time when al- Andalus was the most important cultural focal point in Western Europe and the Maghreb.

It is a good example of the perfect combination of urban planning with the environment. It is a city with buildings and structured gardens for the population to be able to enjoy the natural characteristics of the surrounding area. This unison with the landscape is shown in the modeling of the territory as well as in the way the local stone, water supply and plants were taken advantage of. The fact that the place has stayed just as it was, affected only by its natural deterioration, without any new con­structions being built, has meant that its value concern­ing its environment, has been conserved.

Its sudden disappearance turned Madinat al-Zahra into a myth. This myth fed rich literature, in which the fortune of a lost paradise was evoked throughout the Arab speaking world.

 

MADINAT AL-ZAHRA MUSEUM

The Madinat al-Zahra Museum has been open since 2009. It is located 1.5 km. away from the archaeologi­cal site and is not visible from the site, thus avoiding any impact on the landscape. Due to the quality of its architecture, the building has in fact been awarded some international prizes. The Museum comprises of reception areas and spaces to explain about the city to the visi­tors: a presentation room, an auditorium, an informa­tion center, etc. There are also areas devoted to the con­tinual conservation and research work carried out by the managing body of the site: restoration workshops, store­houses for goods, a library, research rooms, offices, etc.

 

ORGANIZE YOUR VISIT

Contact
Carretera de Palma del Río, Km. 8 – 14029 Córdoba
General Information: 957 10 49 33
Booking for Visits: 957 10 36 28 / 957 10 36 37
Email: madinatalzahra.ccd@juntadeandalucia.es

Opening times

16 September-31 March:
Tuesday to Saturday: 09.00-17.30
Sunday and public holidays: 09.00-15.30

1 April-15 June:
Tuesday to Saturday: 09.00-19.30
Sunday and public holidays: 10.00-15.30

16 June-15 September:
Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays: 09.00-15.30

The monument is closed on Mondays, 1 and 6 january, 1 may, 24, 25 and 31 december.
Local holidays (opening times 09:00-15:30): 8 September, 24 october.

Al Andalus Live Museum at Calahorra Tower

Al Andalus Live Museum at Calahorra Tower

Located inside the Calahorra Tower, opposite the Great Mosque, at the end of the Roman Bridge. Its aim is to provide a recreation of the Cordoba of the period between the 9th-13th centuries, at a time of brilliant cultural, artistic and scientific achievement. Its modern facilities include a system of headphones and infrared data transfer that guide you through the eight themed rooms with dioramas.

History

The building rises up at the south of the Roman bridge, the far end from the city center. It is a fortified gate originally built by the Moors (Almohads) and extensively restored by King Enrique II of Castile in 1369 to defend the city from attack by his brother Pedro I the Cruel from the South. It was originally an arched gate between two towers. Enrique II added a third cylindrical shaped tower connecting the outer two.

In the 18th century, it was used as a prison and in the 19th century, it was a girls school. The tower was declared a national monument in 1931. the restoration of the tower and the Romain bridge and the surrounding area in 2007 was awarded the EU prize for cultural heritage “Europa Nostra” in 2014.

It currently houses the Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus. This fascinating museum is particularly educational with audiovisual presentations which vividly depict how life was in Cordoba around the 10th Century AD when three cultures lived side by side Christianity, Muslim and Judaism. There is a scale model of the Mosque as it was in Moors times before the cathedral was constructed.

Visitors are also able to go on the roof for a spectacular view of the mosque and the city.

 

Location

Puente Romano s/n
14009 Córdoba, Cordoba (Andalusia)

 

 

Opening Hours

 

1st October to 30th April

10 am. to 6 pm.

 

1st May to 30th September

10 am. to 2 pm. / 4:30 pm. to 8:30 pm.

 

Prices

Tickets: 4,50 €

Students and retired people: 3 €

 

Contact

+34 95 729 39 29

www.torrecalahorra.com

The old Mosque of Cordoba

The old Mosque of Cordoba

The Medieval Mosque of Cordoba

Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral is a stunning monument to the two religions and cultures that have shaped Andalusia: Islam and Christianity. A Renaissance church squats right on top of what was once the most important mosque in the Islamic kingdom, making this building a must-see for anyone visiting Córdoba.

The site was originally home to a Roman temple, which was later replaced by a Christian Visigoth church. In 711, when the Moors took Andalusia from the Christians, the Visigoth structure was divided into two halves and used as a place of worship by both Muslims and Christians – a remarkable act of tolerance, given the fervor of the times. But the reign of religious pluralism in Córdoba didn’t last: in 784, on the orders of the Emir Abd al-Rahman I, the church was destroyed and work on a great mosque began. Construction lasted for over two centuries and, when the building was completed in 987 with the addition of the outer nave and courtyard, Córdoba’s mosque was the largest in the Islamic kingdom, save only for that of Kaaba in Arabia.

Photo by waldomiguez, pixabay

When construction was in its final phase in the late 10th century, the Islamic kingdom – under the Omega Caliphate – was at its most powerful. To reinforce Moorish might in Spanish Christian territories, the feared warrior Al-Mansur embarked on a violent rampage through northern Spain and, upon entering Santiago de Compostela, he conceived of an ingenious way in which to outrage his enemies. First, he rode straight into the city’s cathedral on horseback and let his steed drink from the holy font; as if that weren’t insulting enough, Mansur then had the building’s bells removed and transported to Córdoba, where they were melted down and made into lights for the city’s mosque.

The famous double-arches in the mosque’s main hall; Amoniaq, pixabay

In 1236, Córdoba was recaptured by the Christians. King Ferdinand III immediately ordered the mosque’s lanterns to be transported back to Santiago de Compostela, where they were converted back into bells for the city’s cathedral. Subsequent Christian monarchs altered and added to – but never demolished – the mosque, resulting in the hybrid structure that remains.

In the mid-13th century, King Alfonso X oversaw construction of the Villaviciosa and Royal Chapels (the latter of which was rebuilt by Henry II in the 14th century). And in the 16th century, Charles V added the great Renaissance nave right in the middle of the Mezquita. Apparently, though, he was disappointed with the result.

The mosque’s most-photographed aspect is its vast main hall, which is supported by over 850 double-arched columns. Showing no respect for their forbears, the Moors plundered the site’s Roman and Visigoth remains for the jasper, onyx, marble and granite needed to build them – just as, in the early 11th century, they would use material from Malaga’s great Roman amphitheater to build the city’s Alcazaba fortress. The iconic and somewhat hypnotizing double-arch feature was the result of architectural necessity since with single-arch columns (about seven or eight feet high) the immense roof would have been too low. Sunlight and shadows create unusual effects as you wander amongst them, contemplating the troubled history of this great building.

Top 10 things to do when visiting Cordoba, Andalusia

Top 10 things to do when visiting Cordoba, Andalusia

Top 10 things to do when visiting Cordoba, Andalusia

Boasting a fascinating and multi-faceted history, Córdoba is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain. From its iconic Mosque-Cathedral to the beautiful flower-adorned patios open to the public every May, this is a city with something for everyone.
Read on for the 10 best things to see and do in Córdoba.

Mosque-Cathedral

Going to Córdoba and not visiting the Mezquita-Catedral would be like leaving the Alhambra out of a trip to Granada: it is the city’s greatest monument. After the Moors captured Córdoba in 711, what had previously been a Visigoth Christian church was split in two and used by both Christians and Muslims as a place of worship. But in 784, on the orders of the Emir Abd al-Rahman, the church was destroyed and work began on a great mosque. Construction lasted for over two centuries. The building was eventually completed in 987, by which point Cordoba was the most important city in the Islamic Kingdom.

When the city was reclaimed by Christians in 1236, the mosque was converted into a church, and in the 16th century Charles V added a Renaissance nave on top of the Moorish structure. The hybrid structure that resulted has fascinated, outraged and confused in equal measure ever since.

1 Calle del Cardenal Herrero, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 47 05 12

The façade of Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral I © waldomiguez/Pixabay

 

Medina Azahara

Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral takes some beating as a historical attraction, but Medina Azahara – situated some 8km (5 miles) outside the city – is just as intriguing. In the middle of the 10th century, ‘The Shining City’ was the adminstrative capital of Al-Andalus, as Moorish-ruled Spain was then known. Construction started in 936 on the order of the Umayyad Caliph of Cordoba, Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir.

Additions and alterations continued for decades, but in 1010 Azahara was looted and thereafter stood deserted for centuries. Its remains were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century.

Although they only account for about 10% of the original city, they nevertheless give you a good idea of just how magnificent Medina Azahara must have been.

Carretera Palma del Río, km 5.5, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 10 36 37

Medina Azahara was once the most important city in Andalusia I © -JvL-/Flickr

 

Old-school tapas bars

Given that Córdoba is the warmest city in Europe, sightseeing here in spring and summer can be seriously thirsty work. Luckily, the old part of the city is absolutely stuffed with bars that might not look like much from the outside, but which serve some of the best tapas in town.

These old-school places are usually full of locals (always a good sign) and are worth it for their wonderfully chaotic atmosphere as well as for the unbelievably cheap home-cooked food. A must-order in such places is salmorejo – a more substantial version of gazpacho that originated in Cordoba.

Particularly good is Taberna La Sacristia near the Palacio de Viana, where you can gaze upon walls plastered with antique bullfighting paraphanelia as you refuel.

3 Calle Alarcón López, 3, Córdoba, Spain, +34 606 40 69 89

Try salmorejo – the city’s most famous dish I © mlgutierrez820/Pixabay

Roman Temple

One of the pleasures of visiting Córdoba is being able to view monuments from all three of its most defintive epochs: Roman, Moorish and Christian. It was not until the 1950s, when Cordoba’s town hall was being expanded, that the remains were discovered.

It was built during the reign of Emperor Claudius in the middle of the 1st century AD and was renovated in the 2nd century AD. Of its giant columns, 10 remain, reaching up into the sky amid modern apartment blocks and offices. Archaeologists have theorised from the quality of marble and workmanship used in the construction of the temple that it must have been a particularly impressive structure, perhaps even one of the most beautiful in the Roman Empire.

Calle Capitulares, s/n, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 20 17 74

Córdoba’s Roman Temple, discovered in the 1950s I © waldomiguez/Pixabay

Roman Bridge

The city’s famous Roman Bridge, or Puente Romano, dates from the 1st century BC and was extensively rebuilt in the 10th century during the Moorish occupation of the city.

Sitting low over the opaque waters of the Guadalquivir river, which flows down all the way through Andalusia and out into the Atlantic, it is supported by 17 stone arches, of which just two once belonged to the original structure. The middle of the bridge, next to a 17th century statue of Saint Raphael, is the perfect spot from which to survey Cordoba and the green, hilly countryside that surrounds it: it’s a perspective that even locals stop to enjoy while walking over the Puente Romano.

Avenida del Alcázar, s/n, Córdoba, Spain

Córdoba's Roman bridge What to See and Do in Cordoba

Córdoba’s Roman bridge | © Javier Orti/flickr

Patios and courtyards

Córdoba’s prettiest and most unique attractions arose from architectural necessity. The city is one of the hottest in Europe during the summer months, when temperatures frequently exceed an insufferable 40°C (104°F), so it has always been essential for its inhabitants to have a cool retreat for the middle of the day.

As far back as the Roman occupation of Cordoba, houses were built with an internal, open-aired atrium, which was protected from the sun on all sides by thick stone walls. Over the centuries, these havens of cool and shade were decorated with flowers, plants and fountains – a practice that was refined during the Moorish occupation of Córdoba.

Since 1918 the Feria de los Patios, as it’s called, has been sponsored by Córdoba’s town hall, which offers a prize for the prettiest patio.

Flower's patios what to see and do in Cordoba Andalusa

One of Córdoba’s stunning decorated patios I | © poperopop/Pixabay

Palacio de Viana

The star of Córdoba’s patios feria is the elegant 15th-century Palacio de Viana, a vast building that has been used over the centuries as a residence for Spanish royalty. For an admission price of €5 (US$5.56), you can visit Viana’s 13 patios and gardens.

Intricately designed and aromatically populated with colourful plants, flowers and trees, these are some of Córdoba’s most gorgeous public spaces.  Allow a good hour to slowly wander around these scented, romantic spaces. Peering in through the palace’s old windows as you go; another age of louche affluence and amorous intrigue, once played out amongst Viana’s orange trees and jasmines, comes instantly back to life.

2 Plaza de Don Gome, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 49 67 41

Beautiful gardens at the Palacio de Viana I © Encarni Novillo

Calleja de las Flores

The annual patios feria and the Palacio de Viana aren’t the only opportunities for seeing the famous flowers of Córdoba. A stroll down most streets in the old quarter will take you past several gorgeously-decorated building facades, but on the Calleja de las Flores every single house looks like something out of a fairytale.

Situated just north of the Mosque-Cathedral in the heart of the old town, this sweet-scented, colourful little street is the prettiest in Córdoba – and in a city where every other house is worthy of being on a postcard, that is quite a compliment.

Calleja de las Flores, Cordoba, Spain

Córdoba’s Calleja de las Flores is lined with the city’s prettiest houses I © tpsdave/Pixabay

 

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

Often overlooked in favour of the Mosque-Cathedral, the Castle of the Christian Kings is one of the city’s key architectural landmarks. As its name suggests, the construction of this royal palace was ordered by the Catholic King Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328 but – as is so often the case in Andalusia – it was built among the ruins of a vast Moorish fort.

In the late 10th century, when the Islamic Kingdom was at the height of its powers, Córdoba was the kingdom’s – and indeed one of the world’s – great intellectual cities, and the Alcazar housed the largest library in the west. Alfonso used only a fraction of the remains of the original Moorish structure in building the Alcazar, but he chose a Mudejar style, so the Moorish feel of the site has been preserved.

Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 42 01 51

Córdoba’s Castle of the Christian Kings I © Pixels4Free/Pixabay

 

Bullfighting Museum

Córdoba is steeped in bullfighting history, and you can visit a monument of its most famous matador, Manolete (1917-1947), in Plaza del Conde de Priego in the old town; right opposite the square is Iglesia Santa Marina, where many Córdobese bullfighters have been married. Also well worth a visit is superb Museo Taurino, or bullfighting museum, which offers a fascinating insight into this controversial spectacle.

Plaza Maimónides, s/n, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 20 10 56

 

Written by Mark Nayler for The Culture Trip

What to Do and See in Cordoba?

What to Do and See in Cordoba?

Cordoba is a city in Andalusia, Spain. Formerly one of the world’s most populated countries, after a sharp decrease in population during the Renaissance, it is now a moderately sized city and is an Unesco World Heritage Site.

Human inhabitation of Córdoba can be traced back to 42 000 BCE. It was taken over by the Roman Empire and then became the capital of an Islamic Kingdom during the Middle Ages. Due to this, strong Muslim influence is clearly seen throughout the city. Cordoba became a centre of education under the Muslim rulers, who built countless libraries, schools and universities. Today, Córdoba is considered one of Europe’s Intellectual Centres.

Córdoba offers a number of attractions to fascinate first-time visitors. Popular places-of-interest include the Great Cordoba Mosque, Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, Roman Bridge, Medina Azahara, Jewish Quarter, Palacio de Viana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Julio Romero de Torres Museum, Palacio de la Merced and the Archaeological Museum.

 

 

Cordoba a World Heritage Site in Southern Spain

 

Cordoba is a city with an impressive cultural and monumental patrimony. Its strategic position, near the River Guadalquivir, which was formerly navigable, and the legacy of the different peoples who settled on its rich farming lands meant that Cordoba was always considered a privileged place.

The UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) recognized in 1994 the universal importance of Cordoba’s historic legacy and extended the title of World Heritage Site not only to the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba but also to all the streets and buildings around it.

In addition, in 2012, Cordoba was awarded a further accolade: The Festival of the Patios (Flower Courtyards)was added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity sites.  Finally, in May 2018, Medina Azahara was also recognized with the title of World Heritage Site.

Therefore, Cordoba now holds several inscriptions in the World Heritage List granted by UNESCO:

  • the Mosque-Cathedral (1984),
  • the historical quarter surrounding it (1994)
  • The Festival of the Patios (Courtyards) (2012) 
  • Medina Azahara (2018)

And in addition, with the rest of Spain, it shares the titles of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity awarded to Flamenco (2010) and the Mediterranean Diet (2013). 

 

The UNESCO defines the word Heritage as “the legacy we receive from the past, in which we live in the present and which we hand on to the future”. The political and cultural leaders in Cordoba, as well as each and every citizen, have been entrusted with the task of keeping watch over, conserving, protecting and encouraging interest in our History, so that we ourselves, as well as other peoples and cultures, can learn more about it and feel enriched by it.

Cordoba (Spain), World Heritage Site

 

 

LEGACY OF FOUR CULTURES

 

The Great Mosque, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Synagogue and the Roman bridge are the prime examples of Córdoba’s old quarter. The city reflects its Roman past and the coexistence of Christian, Islamic and Jewish cultures throughout its history. Recommended sights include the Jewish quarter, the Calahorra tower, the Roman theatre, Caballerizas Reales, Plaza de la Corredera… A good way to explore the city is to take a guided tour of the sights, or follow one of the themed routes suggested in the Tourist Offices, including Roman Cordoba, the Caliphate route, or the Fernandine route of medieval churches. Just 10 kilometres from the city, with direct bus routes to it, is Spain’s largest archaeological site, Medina Azahara, the ruins of the former capital of the Caliphate, a World Heritage site since 2018.
The charms of the city are not limited to its major monuments. Take a stroll to discover a tangle of narrow streets (be sure to see Callejón de la Luna and Calleja de las Flores), squares, fountains and courtyards decorated with flowers. Indeed, Córdoba’s main fiestas centre on these spaces.

The Courtyards Festival, a World Heritage event, is famous, but in May the town also celebrates the May Crosses, the Battle of Flowers, and the Railings and Balconies competition. This is when the city is full of flowers, there are outdoor flamenco shows, and a festive atmosphere in the street. The month ends with the Feria de Córdoba.

 

Cordoba’s most famous monument is its great Mezquita-Catedral – Mosque-Cathedral – which, along with Granada’s Alhambra, is Andalusia’s most important Moorish monument. Between 987 and 1236, Cordoba’s Mezquita was one of the grandest and most important mosques in the Islamic kingdom; but when the city was reclaimed by Christians, the building was converted into a church. In the 16th century Charles V added a renaissance nave on top of the Moorish structure, creating the hybrid structure we see today.

 

Medina Azahara

In the middle of the 10th century, Medina Azahara – ‘The Shining City’ – was the administrative capital of Al-Andalus, as Moorish-ruled Spain was then known. Construction started in 936 on the order of the Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir.

 

Córdoba’s Medina Azahara; -JvL-, flickr

Additions and alterations continued for decades, but in 1010 Azahara was looted and thereafter stood deserted for centuries. Its remains were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century and, although they only account for about 10% of the original city, they nevertheless give you a good idea of just how magnificent Medina Azahara must have been.

Carretera Palma del Río, km 5.5, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 10 36 37

The Roman City

The remains of Córdoba's Roman temple Muslim Travel

The remains of Córdoba’s Roman temple; waldomiguez, pixabay

It was not until the 1950s, when Cordoba’s town hall was being expanded, that the remains of what was probably the city’s most important Roman temple were discovered. It was built during the reign of Emperor Claudius, in the middle of the 1st century AD and was renovated in the 2nd century AD. Archaeologists have theorized from the quality of marble and workmanship used in the construction of the temple that it must have been a particularly impressive structure, perhaps even one of the most beautiful in the Roman Empire.

Calle Capitulares, s/n, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 20 17 74

The Roman Bridge

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Córdoba’s Roman bridge | © Javier Orti/flickr

The city’s famous Roman Bridge, or Puente Romano, dates from the 1st-century BC and was extensively rebuilt in the 10th-century during the Moorish occupation of the city. Sitting low over the opaque waters of the Guadalquivir, which flows down all the way through Andalusia and out into the Atlantic, it is supported by 17 stone arches, of which just two once belonged to the original structure. The middle of the bridge, next to a 17th-century statue of Saint Raphael, is the perfect spot from which to survey Córdoba and the green, hilly countryside that surrounds it.

 

 

Calahorra Tower

Cordoba Calahorra tower Al Andalus Museum

Córdoba’s Calahorra tower prtects the city’s Roman bridge; -JvL-, flickr

Dating from the late 1100s, the Cahalorra tower was constructed by the rulers of Moorish Córdoba to protect the Puente Romano – one of the city’s principal entrances – from invaders. It originally consisted of two towers separated by an iron gate but in the late 1300s a third, cylindrical tower was added by Henry II of Castile to better guard the bridge from an attack by his own brother. Nowadays it houses a small but interesting museum on the history of Al-Andalus, as Moorish-ruled Spain used to be called.

Museo Vivo de Al-Andlaus, Puente Romano, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 29 39 29

 

Bridge Gate

On the other side of the Roman bridge from the Torre de la Calahorra is the Puerta del Puente, construction of which began in 1572 in order that Córdoba might have one of the grandest entrances in southern Spain. It was rebuilt and added to several times over the centuries – most notably in 1912 on the orders of King Alfonso XIII of Spain – and today provides a suitably dramatic welcome to Córdoba for visitors approaching from the Roman bridge.

 

Palacio de Viana

The star of Cordoba’s patios feria is the elegant 15th-century Palacio de Viana, a vast building that has been used over the centuries as a residence for Spanish royalty. For an admission price of €5, you can visit Viana’s 13 patios and gardens. Intricately designed and aromatically populated with colourful plants, flowers and trees, these are some of Córdoba’s most enjoyable and pretty public spaces. Allow a good hour to slowly wander around these scented, romantic spaces, peering in through the palace’s old windows as you go.

 

 

LEGACY OF FOUR CULTURES

The Great Mosque, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Synagogue and the Roman bridge are the prime examples of Córdoba’s old quarter. The city reflects its Roman past and the coexistence of Christian, Islamic and Jewish cultures throughout its history. Recommended sights include the Jewish quarter, the Calahorra tower, the Roman theatre, Caballerizas Reales, Plaza de la Corredera… A good way to explore the city is to take a guided tour of the sights, or follow one of the themed routes suggested in the Tourist Offices, including Roman Cordoba, the Caliphate route, or the Fernandine route of medieval churches. Just 10 kilometres from the city, with direct bus routes to it, is Spain’s largest archaeological site, Medina Azahara, the ruins of the former capital of the Caliphate, a World Heritage site since 2018.
The charms of the city are not limited to its major monuments. Take a stroll to discover a tangle of narrow streets (be sure to see Callejón de la Luna and Calleja de las Flores), squares, fountains and courtyards decorated with flowers. Indeed, Córdoba’s main fiestas centre on these spaces.

The Courtyards Festival, a World Heritage event, is famous, but in May the town also celebrates the May Crosses, the Battle of Flowers, and the Railings and Balconies competition. This is when the city is full of flowers, there are outdoor flamenco shows, and a festive atmosphere in the street. The month ends with the Feria de Córdoba.

 

CORDOBA & THE FLOWER PATIOS

 

Córdoba is famous around the world for its Great Mosque. Its historic old town is a World Heritage site, full of little streets to be explored, courtyards full of flowers, inviting squares and lively taverns where you can enjoy a good flamenco performance or try the local cuisine. It is at its best in spring, when the fragrance of jasmine and orange blossom is ever-present, especially in May, the month of many of Córdoba’s traditional fiestas.

One of Córdoba’s beautiful courtyards; poperopop, pixabay

Córdoba’s prettiest and most unique attractions arose from architectural necessity. In summer months temperatures here frequently exceed an insufferable 40°C (104°F), so it has always been essential for its inhabitants to have a cool retreat for the middle of the day. As far back as the Roman occupation of Córdoba, houses were built with an internal, open-aired atrium, which was protected from the sun on all sides by thick stone walls. Over the centuries, these havens of cool and shade were decorated with flowers, plants and fountains – a practice that was refined during the Moorish occupation of Córdoba. Since 1918 the Feria de los Patios, as it’s called, has been sponsored by Córdoba’s town hall, which offers a prize for the prettiest patio.

The annual patios feria and the Palacio de Viana aren’t the only opportunities for seeing the famous flowers of Córdoba. A stroll down most streets in the old quarter will take you past several gorgeously decorated building facades, but on the Calleja de las Flores every single house looks like something out of a fairytale. Situated just north of the Mosque-Cathedral in the heart of the old town, this sweet-scented, colorful little street is the prettiest in Córdoba – and in a city where every other house is worthy of being on a postcard, that is quite a compliment.

 

 

 

 

Gardens at the Palacio de Viana; Encarni Novillo 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mudejar interior of Córdoba’s synagogue | Richard Mortel, flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the key attractions in the charming neighborhood of Juderia – which was the city’s Jewish quarter between the 10th and 15th centuries – is the synagogue. Dating from 1315, it is one of the finest examples of Mudejar architecture in Cordoba and, like many of the city’s key historical monuments, it has a colorful past. After the Jews were expelled from Andalusia in 1492, the synagogue was used as a hospital to treat victims of rabies, before being acquired by a shoemaker’s guild in the late 16th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcazar of the Christian Kings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As its name suggests, the construction of this royal palace was ordered by the Catholic King Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328 but – as is so often the case in Andalusia – it was built among the ruins of a vast Moorish fort. In the late 10th century, when the Islamic Kingdom was at the height of its powers, Córdoba was the kingdom’s – and indeed one of the world’s – great intellectual cities, and the Alcazar housed the largest library in the west. Alfonso used only a fraction of the remains of the original Moorish structure in building the Alcazar, but he chose a Mudejar style, so the Moorish feel of the site has been preserved.

Plaza Campo Santo de Los Mártires, s/n, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 42 01 51

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful old neighborhood of San Basilio – also called Alcazar Viejo – is one of the most charming quarters in all of Andalusia. This area of scrunched together, whitewashed houses is home to many of the beautiful patios that open every May for the Feria de los Patios as well as the Alcazar – but it is well worth wandering around in its own right. Along with Granada’s Albaicin and Seville’s Santa Cruz, this is one of the most romantic and intriguing neighborhoods in southern Spain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle of the Christian Kings, Córdoba; Pixels4Free, pixabay 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle of the Christian Kings, Córdoba; Pixels4Free, pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manolete Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The neighborhood of Santa Marina is well worth setting aside a morning for, as it’s home to some of the most beautiful old houses in the city. It is also known as Córdoba’s bullfighting barrio and one of its key monuments, in Plaza del Conde de Priego, is a bronze statue of the city’s most famous bullfighter, Manolete (1917–1947). Manolete, said to be one of the finest matadors of all time, was fatally gored during a bullfight when he was only 30; the grandeur of his statue reminds you that, controversial as bullfighting may be, great bullfighters, are still an important part of the history and culture of many southern Spanish towns.

 

 

 

Plaza del Conde de Priego, Córdoba, Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Marina Church
Right opposite the square is the Iglesia Santa Marina, a church dating from the second half of the 13th century. Its construction was ordered by King Ferdinand III when he captured Córdoba from its Moorish occupants in 1236, at which point the city was one of the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan in the western world. Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries this gracefully ageing church survived two earthquakes and fire, requiring extensive renovation works as a result. It is one of the most beautiful of the so-called “Ferdinand Churches” – those built by Ferdinand II to celebrate his victory over the Moors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullfighting Museum

 

 

 

Córdoba’s 1960s bullring might lack the history and beauty of those in Andalusia’s other major cities, but its superb Museo Taurino, or bullfighting museum, is one of the best you’ll come across. Over several light-filled, spacious rooms it offers a fascinating insight into this controversial spectacle and some of its greatest practitioners, including the Córdoba-born phenomenon Manolete. A great starting point for anyone curious about this mysterious, little-understood tradition.

Botanical Gardens

 

 

 

Occupying a 10-hectare site that stretches along the lush northern banks of the Guadalquivir are Córdoba’s botanical gardens. Opened in 1987, they showcase thousands of species of plants, flowers and trees over several separate areas: these include a hothouse with 130 species of plants from the Canary Islands, an arboretum and two fascinating museums. The Museum of Paleobotany explores the development of plants over the millennia, whilst the Museum of Ethnobotany focuses on how humans have used plants throughout the ages. The gardens are also full of shade and make a perfect escape from the ferocious heat of a Córdoba summer.

 

 

 

Avenida Linneo, s/n, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 20 03 55

 

 

 

Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

 

Art lovers who visit Córdoba will want to visit the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, located in a beautiful former hospital on one of Córdoba’s most attractive squares. Opened in 1862 but extensively rebuilt in the 1930s, it showcases works by Spanish and international artists from the middle ages to the present day, specializing in the Baroque period and the 19th century.

 

 

 

 

 

CORDOBA’S PLEASURES

Going out for tapas, trying the traditional dishes of the local cuisine, discovering the equestrian arts, enjoying a flamenco show in a tablao or relaxing in an Arab bath are all special experiences in Córdoba.

The best-known areas for tapas are the historic quarter and the neighborhoods of San Lorenzo, San Andrés and Santa Marina. Be sure to try local specialties like salmorejo (cold tomato soup),  aubergines with honey, mazamorra (cold almond soup), Iberian ham from Los Pedroches, cheese from Zuheros and wine from Montilla-Moriles.

You can enjoy the equestrian arts and the culture of the Andalusian horse all year round with shows in the Caballerizas Reales. Meanwhile, in the old town center, there are many tablaos with regular performances of flamenco music and dance.
Finally, you can relax in a modern hammam in the Arab baths in the Jewish quarter or when you book the “Andalusí Experience” in the Cordoba Tourist Office. 

 

 

San Andres-San Pablo is in the center of Cordoba’s old town and is one of the best neighborhoods in which to take the pulse of the city’s daily life. Despite its popularity with tourists, this is also a working barrio where Córdobeses pile into the many tapas bars at lunchtime for a beer and a quick bite. Blend in amongst them, order a chilled sherry and some prawns – a great light summer snack in the searing heat of Córdoba – and try to understand the machine-gun-like conversations unfolding at deafening volume around you.

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