Visit Cordoba from Seville Visit Cordoba from Seville Visit Cordoba from Seville
Visit Cordoba from Seville


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Visiting Cordoba

Cordoba is only 45 minutes train ride from Seville making it an easy daytrip for Seville visitors. Cordoba’s fame goes back to the Roman days when it was chosen as the capital of Roman Hispania in 152 BC, however the height of its glory did not come until the invasion of the Moors who selected it as their Capital city of then Al Andalus (Andalucia).

The importance of the city is recognised only when visitors appreciate that to the Moors Andalucia (Al Andalus) was not merely the area called Andalucia today. Moors referred to entire conquered Iberian Peninsula including Portugal, making Cordoba’s role as a capital even more impressive. Legend has it that during its peak of power, Cordoba had over 400,000 inhabitants making it one of the largest cities in the known world.

As the Capital of the Western Islamic Empire, Cordoba became the centre of art, philosophy, medicine and education. Cordoba hosted the world’s largest library of its time and became the central depositary of the Classical European and Islamic knowledge.

Places to Visit

Cordoba is rich in history and traditions with many historical buildings from the Roman to the Moors and post Reconquesta. The old city of the Cordoba (the Medina) is a fascinating warren of narrow character streets with, buildings that are aging gracefully but retaining their dignity. Amongst the tourist shops, café, restaurants and bars you will still find the spirit of the old Moorish city, the Jewish quarters, the Moorish Baths, the Mezquita and just 8 km out of the city you can visit the Moorish Royal city of Medina Azahara. The most popular time to visit Cordoba is in May with many festivals including the Festival of Crosses, Patio Festival (flower festival) and the Ferria all scheduled for this month. However, if you visit in May, you need to be prepared to queue and have plenty of patience.


The Mezquita has become the symbol of Cordoba with the wonderfully simple but elegant arches of which have become the universal image of Cordoba. This site was originally dedicated to the Temple of Mithra during the Roman times, which was later converted into a church and inevitably was replaced by a mosque during the Moors period and again reborn as a church after 1200. The Mezquita was the largest mosque in the world for centuries and was completed over many years by a number of Umayyad Caliphs. After the Reconquesta the Christian conquerors were so impressed by its architectural elegance that they decided not to destroy it to make way for a Church. Instead they built a new Cathedral in the middle of the Mezquita and perhaps unintentionally created a unique merging of the two religions. Like many mosques and churches of today around the world, the original site of the Mezquita has been a place of worship that extends beyond the origins of Christianity and Islam.

Mezquita, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain

Moorish Baths

Bath houses were important places in the Moorish Spain as cleanliness was even then believed to be next to godliness! The richer and more powerful a city, the baths and mosques it will have, so Cordoba being the capital had over 300. The old Cordovans must have been very clean and sweet smelling! The baths were used for ritual cleaning and relaxations but it was where the business deals were done, the political alliances were forged and ideas debated. Baths were the golf courses of ancient times. Sadly only one bath survived the onslaught of change after Reconquesta as the Christian conquerors appear to have been less keen on them! The last remaining bath is just 10 minutes walk outside of the old Mezquita southwest corner and is well signposted.

Moorish Baths, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain

The Alcázar

Christian forces took Cordoba in 1236 and in 1386 Alfonso XI of Castile began building the present day palace using Mudéjar style hence retaining its Moorish influence and character.


Henry IV of Castile added the Alcázar's main tower which later became known as the "Inquisition Tower" was constructed. The Catholic King and Queen (Isabella and her husband Ferdinand) used the Alcázar as a headquarters for their campaign against the Nasrid dynasty in Granada, the last remaining Moorish kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula. Boabdil the last Caliph of Granada was held prisoner here in 1483 until he promised to make Granada a tributary state and when subsequently he refused to surrender his kingdom in 1489, the Christians launched an attack. The Tower gained its infamous name after becoming the first permanent tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition which maintained a tribunal here for three centuries. The Alcázar served as a garrison for Napoleon Bonaparte's troops in 1810.

Alcazar, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain

Medina Azahara

In 936 AD Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III decided to move the seat of the government away from the “devil making” dealings of the city and hence built a new Royal City 8km out of the city. He chose the site of an old Roman settlement and reused any of the Roman building remains and created a magnificent royal city that housed all his government, the royal family and a full garrison to protect them all. The city was dedicated and was named in the honour of his wife ‘Zahra’ and became known as ‘Madinat al-Zahra’ (City of Zahra) and later corrupted in Spanish to Medina Azahara. Sadly this magnificent city was destroyed in the civil war between the Berbers and the Moors, and it was lost for over 1000 years. Luckily by sheer accident the city was discovered in 1911 and excavation still continues.

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain