Seville is the capital of the Andalusia area and seemed to offer all the thinsgs Chris and I love in an adventure. Food, culture, good local transport links and of course Seville is the setting for Chris’s favourite opera, Carmen. It was perfect and absolutely lived up to its reputation.
Exploring the city of Cordoba | An Andalusian treasure
As part of our Andalusian New Year adventure that would take us to Seville, Cadiz, El Chorro we also wanted to visit the city of Cordoba as its historical centre is listed as a world UNESCO heritage site and its got some fantastic buildings and it didn’t let us down.
How did we get to Cordoba?
We travelled from our base in Seville to Cordoba by train. You can buy train tickets really easily from the machines at most large city stations. Alternatively you cold save money if you buy your train tickets in advance.
The ticket machines are really easy to use and you can access the information in several languages and pay by card. The trains to Cordoba from Seville ran approx every 30 mins and the journey was only around 45 mins so it was perfect for a day trip.
What is there to see in Cordoba?
This was one of the main reasons for us choosing Cordoba as a day trip. The pictures we’d seen of the fantastic building were just amazing and we got a few of our own. The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba is officially known by its ecclesiastical name, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. Due to its status as a former Islamic mosque, it is also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba or the Mezquita
The Hypostyle Hall
The building itself was expanded over a two hundred year period and developed into a large hypostyle prayer hall (hypostyle means, filled with columns). The expansive prayer hall seems magnified by its repeated geometry. It is built with recycled ancient Roman columns from which sprout a striking combination of two-tiered, symmetrical arches, formed of stone and red brick and is an impressive sight.
A focal point in the prayer hall is the horseshoe arched mihrab or prayer niche. A Mihrab is used in a Mosque to identify the wall that faces Mecca.
The Old Town
The old town in Cordoba is a myriad of streets and wonderfully carved and constructed buildings of a bygone era. In 1984, UNESCO registered the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba as a World Heritage Site. A decade later, it expanded the inscription to include much of the old town. The historic centre has a wealth of monuments depicting Roman, Arabic, and Christian times.
The historical centre of Cordoba is mostly pedestrianised and free from traffic so you can wander around at your leisure in the quirky and colourful little streets. There is also an abundance of orange trees which seem to sprout from any vacant bit of ground but add such lovely colour to the city.
The Roman Bridge & The Roman Triumphal Arch
The Roman Bridge
This bridge was originally built in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river, though it has been reconstructed at various times since. It is also known locally as the Old Bridge as for two thousand years, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-twentieth century, it was the city’s only bridge across the river. Its popular with tourists and was used in the filming of the TV Series Game of Thrones, season 5.
The Roman Triumphal Arch
The Puerta del Puente or gate of the bridge is a monument built in the 16th century to commemorate a visit to the city by King Philip II. The gateway is located on the site of the previous Roman gates, linking the city with the Roman bridge and the Via Augusta.
Patio de Los Naranjo
This area could be considered Europe’s oldest “living” garden, given that it was established alongside the initial works on the Great Mosque. It is an enclosed area measuring approximately 50 m x 30 m, divided into three parts, each with a beautiful Renaissance-style fountain in the centre.
It originally contained plants such as pomegranate, cypress and palm trees. Today it has 98 orange trees planted in rows that date back at least to the end of the 18th century. Its a very popular area with visitors and is a lovely calm oasis in the middle of a busy bustling city.
Andiamo Amigos and the Food
Mercado Victoria is the first gastronomic market to open its doors in Andalusia. It specialises in unique food kiosks offering everything from the latest foodie trends to local delicacies. Unfortunately we were too late to eat here as we discovered it on our way back to the train station but its most definitely on our to-do list when we return.
I love this region of Spain as its just Tapas Galore. In fact that would be a great name for a restaurant here. In Cordoba, the old town has many tapas restaurants to choose from and we had a quick look at trip advisor before settling on this one for lunch
Bodegas Mezquita (Céspedes). Here some of the tapas had an Arabian flavour to them and there was a choice of a set menu or the a la carte where you could try as many tapas as you chose. Totally yummy and we would recommend this restaurant if you’re visiting the historical centre of Cordoba.
Dotted around the quirky streets of the old town are quite a few little bars tucked away from the main tourist throng. One of these was La Tinja Bar where we stopped for a glass of red wine after visiting the Roman Bridge. These little bars were filled with locals enjoying the late afternoon sun and it was a much better experience than the tourist places in the main historical area.
Booking resources for your trip
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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Hike the El Caminito del Rey which is a fantastic Andalusian walk taking through the history of these gorges and the workers who used them
Our day trip to Cadiz was part of our New Years trip to Seville and as Cadiz was only a train ride away we decided to visit. Our trip to Cadiz was inspired by Rick Stein and his Long Weekends TV series.