Cordoba is an Andalusian city with a glorious past. It was the world’s most populous city in the 10th century and became a center for education under the Moors who conquered it in the 8th century. Outstanding examples of Islamic architecture can be found throughout the city, with the famous Mezquita, a mosque-cum-cathedral, dominating the skyline from all directions.
Other top attractions in Cordoba include several structures from Roman times. Ancient gateways, bridges and roads remind us all of how historic Cordoba is. A lengthy period of time, from the beginning to now, the city’s culture can be experienced within Cordoba’s vibrant town squares.
The city also is known for its beautiful flowers and carefully landscaped patios and one of the most fun things to do in Cordoba is celebrate the patio festival which is held each May.
Where to Stay in Cordoba
Cordoba may be a small city, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t specific areas to stay that will elevate your experience. Juderia is at the top of the list thanks to its vibrant alleyways, Flower Street and charming patios.
Just north of Juderia is downtown Cordoba, where modern sensibilities flourish alongside historic architecture and atmospheric town squares. Families should also consider Vial Norte, where family-friendly accommodation lies alongside parks and old-time castles.
Found on the edge of Plaza de las Tendillas, H10 Palacio Colomera places you in the heart of Cordoba culture. Some rooms feature beautiful city views while being close to palaces, the Roman Temple and the Cordoba Synagogue.
In Juderia, Eurostars Maimonides is a budget-friendly hotel with elegant features. The hotel comes with a traditional Andalusian patio, views of the historic mosque and places you within walking distance of Cordoba’s famous Flower Street.
See also: Where to Stay in Cordoba
How to get to Cordoba
Thanks to the Spanish rail network, it is a simple, and pleasant, journey to Cordoba. The best launch points for the Andalusian city are from Madrid or Seville, with the latter being significantly closer.
Spain’s high-speed train, AVE, will take you from Madrid to Cordoba in 1 hour and 40 minutes. While from Seville, you’re just 45 minutes away. From the station, a taxi is a great option for larger groups. While several bus lines depart from the same spot.
Another option is a bus, which is a cheaper option than the train. However, from Madrid, a bus journey will take almost 5 hours and 2 hours from Seville.
Map of Tourist Attractions in Cordoba
19. Puerta del Puente
Built in the 1500s, the Puerta del Puente replaced the previous gate from the early Middle Ages. It continued a succession of gates that dated back to the beginning of the Roman Era.
The striking Puerta del Puente has hearty columns on either side and offers a tremendous presence in Cordoba’s historic center. In low-hanging light, the yellow sandstone structure shines bright creating vibrant photography.
Translating to the Gate of the Bridge, from one side of Puerta del Puente, you can see an old Roman bridge and Via Augusta. The latter being the longest major road built by the Romans along the Iberian Peninsula.
18. Plaza de las Tendillas
Another town square to relax in and enjoy local life in Cordoba is Plaza de las Tendillas. Tendillas Square offers the musical sounds of moving feet as pedestrians make their way from A to B. But not without first stopping for tapas and a drink in a local cafe.
Surrounded by colorful, window-laden 17th and 18th century architecture, the views are even better than Plaza de la Corredera. Trees are spaced throughout, creating plenty of shade for those enjoying the restaurant patios. While the central fountain captivates all.
Speaking of, the center of the fountain features a striking statue of Gran Capitan and his horse. Complementing it is the beloved Tendillas Clock.
17. Mercado Victoria
The iron structure home to Mercado Victoria dates back to the 1800s. Then it was Caseta Círculo de la Amistad, home to the Cordoba Fair. Today, it has taken on new meaning as a home of gastronomic delight.
The sprawling structure features 30 stalls each with their own take on a variety of cuisine. But since we are in Cordoba, you’ll be happy to know the bulk of those focus on the best local culinary wonders along with broader Spanish cuisine.
The building is surrounded by the beautiful Victoria Gardens, a stone’s throw from the heart of Cordoba’s historic district. Making it a great location, day or night.
16. Chapel of San Bartolomé
In the historic heart of Cordoba, you’ll find the funerary Chapel of San Bartolomé. The foundations of the beloved chapel were placed in 1390 and it has been masterfully preserved in the centuries since.
The chapel helps describe the contrasting timelines in Cordoba. The construction of the Chapel of San Bartolomé occurred at the same time as the expulsion of local Judaism and the rise of Christianity.
The chapel was made from rustic sandstone, and its interior is incredibly decorated in fine mosaic tiles. The display is one of the most splendid examples of Mudejar art in all of Spain. Highlights include the Order of the Band along with the chapel’s original 15th century flooring.
15. Museo de Julio Romero de Torres
A Cordoba native, Julio Romero de Torres, would go on to become a famous portrait and Symbolist artist. Throughout his rich career, he would work alongside the regular townsmen and women as often as members of high society. It makes for a well-rounded portfolio, much of which is now on display at the Museo de Julio Romero de Torres.
Many of his 500-plus paintings are on display here, within a renewed 19th-century building. The artwork represents a timeline of de Torres’ life, taking you on a journey from his early works to his later pieces to showcase how his artistry evolved.
14. Plaza de la Corredera
Dating back to the late 17th century, the Plaza de la Corredera is the perfect place to kick back and watch the world go by. The sprawling plaza is surrounded by archways that lead to a four-story building, creating one enormous courtyard.
Like all major Spanish squares, Plaza de La Corredera has long played a central role in public life. Restaurants and cafes are spread throughout, inviting locals in for food and drinks. As for travelers, it’s a chance to watch the Andalusians go about daily life.
Tapas in hand, the square is reminiscent of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, and bristles with life throughout the day.
13. Los Patios de San Basilio
Colorful, flower-laden patios are common throughout Cordoba. One of the most fun things to do in Cordoba is to wander and discover them on your own. Or make a beeline to Los Patios de San Basilio, to see the best of the best.
Found along Cordoba’s Courtyard Road in the district of San Basilio, these patios are arguably the most captivating in town. Surrounded by equally sightly architecture, these courtyards are encased in white walls, kaleidoscopic flowers are placed throughout and the town’s vibrant culture is on full display.
The best time to visit is mid-spring when the flowers bloom. But to escape the crowds, venture through in late summer where only the best patios remain open to the public.
12. Casa de Sefarad
Located in the Jewish Quarter, on its main thoroughfare, Calle Judios is the Casa de Sefarad. The House of Spanish Jews explores the culture and history of this community.
Also known as the House of Memory, Casa de Sefarad was built in the 14th century and linked to the town’s original Jewish temple. Upon walking inside, travelers will discover an ornate courtyard that has been rejuvenated to its original splendor.
Throughout, you’ll find carvings and art that pay homage to the heritage of the Sephardi. Now primarily a cultural center, it’s an insightful way to learn about not just the beginning of the Sephardi but the centuries since.
Beyond artifacts, museums and libraries, Casa de Sefarad also features concerts and community gatherings.
11. Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
In the 2nd century BC, Cordoba was founded by Romans. Nearby the original capital of ancient Baetica stood. Cordoba rose to further prominence through the eras. Today, you can discover this history, not through books but sight at the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba.
Set within the Palacio de los Paez de Castillejo, the museum is a beautiful sight from outside. Surrounded by an inviting, shady town square, you’ll feel your heart skip a beat as you enter through the palace’s beautiful central entrance.
Inside, you won’t find your average museum. In fact, it’s the site of an original archaeological discovery, Cordoba’s Roman-era amphitheater. Alongside it are some of the city’s original homes and shops that can be traced back to the Middle Ages.
10. Calahorra Tower
The Calahorra Tower is another Cordoban landmark that represents Islamic architecture. Located at the south end of the Roman Bridge, the horseshoe-shaped tower is the oldest defensive site in Cordoba.
It was built by the Moors to protect the city from attackers. It originally consisted of an arched gate between two towers; a third tower was added by King Henry of Castile in the 14th century.
Today, it houses a museum that showcases Cordoba’s history, including the peaceful co-existence of Christians, Jews and Muslims. It also showcases the early culture, science and engineering feats that Andalusia was famous for centuries ago.
9. Calleja de las Flores
The picturesque Calleja de las Flores is one of the most popular streets in Cordoba. It’s more like a narrow alley than a street, however, as it runs through the city’s Jewish Quarter.
A walk along Calleja de las Flores places you below dozens of colorful flowers hanging from the facades of historic homes. The whitewashed buildings are a mere canvas for the collection of bouquets that dazzle passersby.
Along with the flowers are diminutive patios where locals enjoy the short views and take a break from daily life. Almost like a guiding arrow, the narrow alley of Calleja de las Flores points towards the Mezquita Bell Tower, making for a postcard-worthy backdrop.
8. Medina Azahara
The Medina Azahara (Madinat al-Zahra) was a stunning 10th century palace built for a caliph about five miles outside of Cordoba.
Legend has it the caliph named it for his favorite concubine, though there are indications he built it to show that his caliphate was the most powerful in medieval Europe. The complex consisted of three terraces with the castle built on the top two levels.
The terraces were surrounded by a wall, with a mosque built outside it. The palace was built of sumptuous colorful materials, including precious gems. The posh palace was destroyed 70 years later. It was rediscovered in the early 19th century and is being restored today.
7. Palacio de Viana
From the outside, the Palacio de Viana seems rather austere, but step inside for a look at how 17th century nobility lived. One of the best aristocratic houses in Cordoba, the palace is also known as the Museo de los Patios because it contains 12 grand patios, each of which is decorated differently.
The interior of the building today contains a carriage museum, appropriate since provision was made for horse-drawn carriages to enter inside; leather wall hangings; a 7,000-volume library that also contains Flemish tapestries; an art gallery with a floor made from Roman tiles, and other historic items reflecting the period.
6. Juderia de Cordoba
There’s something captivating about wandering around Juderia de Cordoba. The city’s Jewish Quarter is a maze of narrow streets, each as delightful as the last. There are rows of whitewashed homes, each with colorful accents and tiny balconies overflowing with flowers. The seemingly never-ending series of homes and eloquent shops are only interrupted by equally charming town squares.
The Jewish Quarter has been in place for centuries and while you’re distracted by the bright, beautiful architecture, you’ll stumble upon a number of important monuments. Two of these are found along Calle Judios. They are the synagogue which dates back to the 1400s along with the Casa de Sefarad. The latter retains its 14th century beauty and explores the culture of Spanish Jews, Sephardi.
Maimonides, a famous Jewish philosopher, was born here in 1126; a statue of him stands in Tiberiadus Square in the Juderia.
5. Cordoba Synagogue
The main attraction in the Jewish Quarter today is the ancient synagogue (La Sinagoga) on the Calle de los Judios; it is one of only three original synagogues remaining in Spain.
Built in the 14th century the synagogue was turned into a hospital after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. It became a Catholic chapel in 1588. Today it is a museum. The interior still contains inscriptions of Hebrew psalms.
The main hall is rectangular in shape and decorated with Mudejar-style plant motifs. The wall supporting the women’s tribune has three arches with exquisite decorative plasterwork.
4. Puente Romano
The Roman Bridge, or Puente Romano, is an awesome sight as it spans the Guadalquivir River. Located in the historic center of Cordoba, the bridge dates back to the first century AD when it was built by the Romans.
It has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. The current bridge retains the Islamic flavor of the Moorish reconstruction that dropped the number of arcades from 17 to 16.
The bridge is best viewed at dusk, with the Mezquita in the background, when the setting sun turns the stone a deep red. Halfway across the bridge is a statue of San Rafael that was added in the 16th century.
3. Festival de Patios
The Festival of Los Patios is held halfway through May when spring is at its best. The festival consists of a contest in which participants open their courtyards to visitors to have a look around, at a time when blooming flowers turn the patios into beautiful domestic gardens.
lDue to a hot, dry climate homes in Córdoba were built with a central patio even back in the days of the Romans. This tradition was continued by the Moors and persists in many homes even today.
Filling the central patio with plants and water features has always been a way to keep local homes cool. Patio decoration ended up taking on a life all its own. For 13 days in May, the doors open and everyone is invited in to see the wonders of Córdoba’s patios.
2. Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, or Fortress of the Christian Monarchs, was built in the 8th century as a palace or fortress for the Moorish caliphate. A major Cordoban landmark, the alcazar became the residence of Spanish kings and queens who ruled from there for 160 years.
Christopher Columbus came here to seek funding for his trip to the unknown lands from Ferdinand and Isabella. It later became a jail, but today it is a public museum for those who want to see ancient artifacts.
The main draw of this popular attraction in Cordoba, however, are the backyard gardens with fountains and hedges that honor the alcazar’s Islamic heritage.
1. Mezquita of Cordoba
It didn’t start out this way, but the end result of the Mezquita represents an ecumenical effort by several religions, all of which conquered Cordoba at one time.
The original Roman temple was replaced by a Visigoth cathedral. It became a mosque in the 8th century when Moors captured the city. At one time this sacred Moslem pilgrimage destination held an original copy of the Koran and an arm bone belonging to Mohammed.
It became a cathedral again in the 13th century when Cordoba was conquered by Christians. They left the stunning Islamic architecture of this Cordoba landmark essentially intact, simply consecrating and renaming it.