Located in beautiful Andalucía, the stunning city of Córdoba is a must for all visitors to the area. Historically it has been an important Roman city and a major Islamic settlement during the Middle Ages. Featuring scores of incredible, historic buildings, you will never be short of things to see and do when visiting – making the city a perfect day out via a car rental from Malaga airport. In this guide, we are going to highlight just some of the wonderful things there are to see and do in Córdoba, helping to prepare you for your upcoming trip!
Before we dive in, the team at Turismo de Córdoba – the city’s tourism website – spoke to us about what they believe makes Córdoba such a wonderful place to visit. They say that the city’s impressive culture and “historic legacy”, make visiting a truly special occasion: “UNESCO even recognised in 1994 the universal importance of Córdoba’s historic legacy.”
And Paul Healy from the travel blog Anywhere We Roam says: “For me, it’s not just the colourful patios with Roman influences, or sherry infused sauces spicing up local dishes that make Córdoba such a great place to visit. It’s the lingering presence of the only Islamic Caliphate to reside in western Europe. It brings Córdoba to life with a vibrant cultural mix that’s unique to the city.”
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Mezquita, is one of the city’s prized attractions and an absolute must when spending time in the area. Praising the site, Turismo de Córdoba said it is “arguably the most significant monument in the whole of the western Muslim world”.
David from the travel blog David’s Been Here has spent time in the city and highly recommends this particular site: “When you visit Córdoba you have to see La Mezquita, a former Visigoth church and mosque that’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and features incredible arches.”
The site has had a storied history, starting as a Christian church around A.D 600, then becoming a spectacular mosque in A.D 784 under Iberian ruler Abd al-Rahman I, it then became a Catholic cathedral in 1236 during the Reconquista. Dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the cathedral is an absolute gem, boasting incredible architecture with its forest of 850 columns, delightful arches, bell tower, and chapels to explore.
Paul from Anywhere We Roam, also picks the site as his top suggestion: “While I love nothing better than strolling the streets of Córdoba soaking up the Andalusian culture, it’s hard to go past Córdoba’s number 1 sight.” Regarding its main feature, Paul points to the “expansive Islamic prayer hall with a towering cathedral punching through the roof. It’s an exceptional sight and the view from the nearby bell tower gives you a bird’s eye view of this controversial extension.”
The next suggestion from David of David’s Been Here is the popular Roman Bridge. Visitors to the city love coming to this spot for hits historic nature and excellent views of some of Cordoba’s other iconic locations. David says: “The Roman Bridge in Córdoba is the backbone of the city. It was built back in the 1st century and was the only way to cross the river during the Roman era. There’s a small shrine and a statue of St. Raphael that dates back to 1651 in the middle of the bridge. The bridge’s entrance, Puerta del Puente, was built in 1572 and you’ll find the 12th-century Calahorra Tower at the other end. Beyond the history, the bridge is a great spot to view the sights of Córdoba from a distance!”
Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs
Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs, or Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Spanish, is a beautiful royal compound with picturesque gardens located next to the Guadalquivir River. The Alcázar stands out in an area replete with breathtaking historical sites and those who stop by will soon see what all the fuss is about. This fortress once served as the primary royal residence of the famous Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragorn. The site we see today was constructed in 1328 but was actually built on an old Visigoth fortress that later became a Moorish structure. Part of the historic centre of Córdoba, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is lovely to explore. Prices and open times can be found here.
Megan, one half of the luxury food and travel blog Half This World Away, has fond experiences of visiting Cordoba with her husband David and highly recommends this particular attraction. Speaking to us about why she thinks it’s a must-visit, Megan said: “For us, the most spectacular thing about the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos was its gardens. If you are lucky enough to visit when the flowers are in full bloom you will be blown away by the beauty of the place.”
As mentioned above, the gardens of Alcázar are certainly a must and Emily Cole from the family travel blog Kids and Compass told us that visiting the gardens (and others around the city) is one of her top recommendations for a Córdoba family holiday: “Our children liked Cordoba’s gardens most. The Alcazar’s gardens were very pretty, as were the botanic gardens slightly further out of the city centre. Just opposite the botanic gardens is another park which has a large playground called Children’s City, which is perfect for kids to run around in.”
Emily also spoke to us about how child-friendly the city is in general: “Cordoba is a lovely little place to take small children. As well as being incredibly picturesque, Cordoba’s main historic sites can be seen fairly quickly; parents can get around the Mezquita-Cathedral without too much bother. Cordoba’s lovely streets are also full of shops selling souvenirs and toys which will keep kids occupied for a while! Children are welcome everywhere in Cordoba, even at evening flamenco performances – so you don’t have to worry about missing out on Spanish culture just because you’ve got kids!”
Historic Centre of Córdoba
As previously noted, the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs is located in the historic centre of Córdoba but this is just one of many reasons to visit this specific area of the city. If you are looking to wander around at your leisure, exploring the charming streets of the historic centre should be high on your to-do list. One of the largest old towns in Europe, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its picturesque patios, courtyards, and historic legacy dating all the way back to the Moors and even the Romans. Its twisting alleys are perfect for escaping the hot Spanish sun and there are even little shops to discover along the way.
Another fascinating part of the historic centre is the Old Jewish Quarter, where the city’s Jewish population lived between the 10th and 15th centuries. Maya, who runs the travel blog Chasing Lenscapes with her sister Sari, told us that visiting the Old Jewish Quarter is her top suggestion: “We love getting lost in charming alleys and the Jewish Quarter is one of the most beautiful sections of Cordoba. All the leafy patios, decorated courtyard, stores, and small restaurants really contribute to the special atmosphere, not to mention it’s very photogenic. Also, learning about the Jewish community in Cordoba was very interesting.”
The history and ancient beauty never stop in Córdoba. Next up on our list is the vast ruins that are known as Medina Azahara. Once a gorgeous Moorish city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III, this vanity project was meant to act as his capital before being devastated by North African invaders. It was rediscovered in 1911 and now is one of the city’s most treasured tourist attractions. The restorations and conservation work allow one to marvel at marble-paved gardens, bathhouses, a mosque, and military structures. Yet another of the city’s UNESCO sites, you can’t leave Cordoba without heading over.
The best attractions in Córdoba
- The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
- Roman Bridge
- Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs
- Gardens of Córdoba
- Historic Centre of Córdoba
- Medina Azahara
There is so much to love about Córdoba and David from David’s Been Here has a few more top suggestions to add to your list just in case: “I also recommend visiting the ruins of the Corinthian-style Roman temple (it’s almost entirely made of marble), the amazing Archaeological Museum of Córdoba, and the majestic Gate of Almodovar. They’re some of the best ways to get a sense of Córdoba’s rich history!”
If you want to visit some of the above attractions, a great way to do so is with ArtenCordoba’s guided tours, taking visitors to many of the city’s outstanding monuments. Their personal recommendations are: “Mosque-Cathedral, Synagogue, Jewish Quarter, Viana Palace, and Medina Azahara.”
There is no question Córdoba is a special city and we hope you enjoy your visit during your Andalucía holiday. Make sure to read our blog for more tips and guides to this wonderful region.