Córdoba lies in the geographical
centre of Andalusia. The passage of the Guadalquivir, in the
north of which lies the rugged sierra and in its south the
rich, cultivated lands, explains the variety of the scenery
which is mirrored by its people and customs.
In the course of its history, Códoba has been a meeting
place of people , races, cultures and religions of different
kinds, which have left behind an important legacy of popular
architecture and historical sites.
Códoba and its Historical Sites
The bridge over the Guadalquivir and the mosaics exhibited
in the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (ie, Fortress
of the Christian Monarchs) are the most outstanding remains
of Roman culture.
The main exponent of Muslim culture is the Mosque, considered
to be the Best Islamic church in the world. The building was
begun by Abd al-Rahman I (756-785) on the site of the Christian
Basilica of San Vicente, the material of which was used to
a large extent. This early part consisted of eleven transverse
and twelve longitudinal aisles and had a great variety of capitals
and marvelous columns. for greater heights and the light to
reach the whole church, the arches were open towards the inner
court of Patio de las Abluciones (today Patio de los Naranjos).
Abd al-Rahman II (821-852) built another eight transverse aisles
to enlarge the building and used Visigothic columns whiteout
bases. Al-Hakam II (961- 976) added another 12 aisles since
the population of the city had grown considerably. The columns
alternate as regards colour and capitals: Corinthian ones with
blue shafts and Composite or Roman ones with pink marble shafts.
Al-Hakam II is responsible for the imposing mihrab with its
dome and portal covered by a mosaic, which was a present of
the Byzantine, emperor Constantine VII. The inside of the mihrab
was convered by a hugh plaster shell, from where praying was
led and heard everywhere in the Mosque and even outside. Almanzor
(987-990, Hisham's Prime Minister) enlarged the building for
the third time.
In 936, Abd al-Rahman II began the construction f the most
important, Latin-looking city of the world in the IOC on a
surface area of 112ha. The new city rose in the west of Códoba
and made the Best use of the existing geographical features.
The top area-which is the one that has been excavated so farbelongs
to the Alcázar Real, ie, the Royal Fortress (the Royal
Household, the bureaucratic and administrative service, etc),
in the middle there were gardens and orchards and in the low
part stood the Mosque and the city as such.
Every day over 10,000 workers came to take part in building
this marvelous city, many of which had been brought from different
part of the Mediterranean.
In the Spanish Middle Ages, Córdoba was an important
centre of Jewish culture, especially as from the 11c. The interesting
Jewish quarter is still preserved and is full of narrow streets
and hidden corners. In Judios (ie, Jews) Street lies the synagogue.
Its walls show the laborious plaster work which is characteristic
of Mudéjar art.
Christian art begins to flourish in Córdoba after the
Reconquest. In 1236, Fernando II gave the order to build fourteen
churches, which are Romanesque and Gothic with Mudéjar
overtones. Some of these churches are Santa Marina, San Lorenzo,
San Miguel, San Nicolás, etc.
The Cathedral, which lies in the centre of the Mosque, was
built between 1525 and 1766. It consists of a mixture of styles,
with Hispano-Flemish arches and vaults, a Renaissance dome,
an early Baroque choir vault and main altar, and 18C mahogany
The Cathedral treasure has many priceless objects from between
the 15C and 20C, which largely come from Córdoba workshops.
The most spectacular work of art is Enrique de Arfe's monstrance
(which was taken out for the first time in a procession on
Corpus Christi in 1518).
Another witness of medieval times is the Alcázar de
los Reyes Católicos, which was begun as a royal residence
for Alfonso XI and is an impressive building with strong walls
and four towers. Inside, worthy of special attention are the
rooms with their magnificent ogee cross vaults, a splendid
collection of Roman mosaics and a number of very well preserved
Also especially outstanding are the patios (ie, inner courts)
and gardens of the Alcázar. One is called the Patio
Morisco in the Mudéjar style and the other has many
pools and fountains spouting water.
Other Places of Interest
El patio Square, officially protected as a site of interest
to history and art. It has a foundation with a colt on top,
holding the Córdoba coat of arms (by Michel de Verdiguier,
1557) between its raised forefeet. In the same square stands
the "posada" (ie, guest-house) dating from the 14C,
which is mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes on several occasions.
The Julio Romero Museum and the Fine Art Museum, which occupy
the building of the former La Caridad Hospital. The Museum
dedicated to Julio Romero, a painter of Córdoba females,
consists of six galleries, where among other the following
paintings are shown: "La Chiquita Piconera" (Little
Girl selling charcoal), "Narajas y Limones (Oranges and
Lemons) and "Ofrenda al Arte de un Torero (A Bullfighter's
Offering to Art). The Fine Arts Museum has many works of art
from religious buildings and the Córdoba School .
The Viana Palace is the oldest private house in Córdoba.
It house a valuable collection of porcelain, tapestries, carpets,
Córdoba leather and ceramics. Eleven "patios" and
a garden can be visited inside.
Capuchinos Square is a mystical place with a famous figure
of Chist known as "El Cristo de los Faroles".
The Bullfight Museum occupies an old 16 C building in the
heart of the Jewish Quarter. It holds mementoes of famous Córdoba
bullfighers, such as Lagartijo, Guerrita, Machaquito and Manolete.
La Corredera Square is a picturesque, rectangular square where
the first bullfights took place.
Calleja de las Flores, a typical place.
Calleja de Pañuelo, at one point in this small street
its width is more or less that of a handkerchief; at the end
of the street lies the smallest square in the world .
There are hermitages outside Córdoba, from where one
has a lovely view of the Guadalquivir Valley.
In the north, there is the Sierra full of unrivalled scenery,
large estates and hunting grounds for large game ("monterias",
ie, a kind of battue), as well as beautiful villages, such
as Hornachuelos, Villaviciosa, etc. The city lies between the
Sierra and the cultivated land of the Guadalquivir Valley,
with its picturesque villages, such as Montoro, which has a
15C Church called San Bartolom another of the 12C, called Santa
María de la Mota with Roman and visigothic traces. Almodóvar
has an imposing castle of Gothic-Mudéjar desing, which
stands on top of a rock formation. Palma de Río: San
Francisco Convent, dating from 1518, which is occupied by a
hotel. In the south of the valley lies the land with its winegrowing
villages, such as Montilla and Moriles, steeped in tradition
and history. Baena and its spectacular Holy Week celebrations.
Aguilar and its octagonal square. Espejo and its 14C castle.
Even further south, in lower Andalusia, the villages form
a community of interest to tourists and are outstanding sites,
such as Cabra and Priego de Córdoba, the centre of Córdoba
Baroque, with its Parish Church of La Asunción, the
Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, the La
Villa area of medieval Arab origin, and the 16C El Rey Fountain
with 139 pipes.
Other picturesque villages are Zuheros (with Los Murciélagos
Cave) and Rute.
Córdoba cooking maintains the tradition of dishes from
the different cultures which settled in Córdoba. Recipes
from old Arab and Jewish. manuscripts have been saved. Consequently,
there is a great variety of dishes, such as 'salmorejo' ( a
kind of 'gazpacho', ie, a cold vegetable, especially tomato,
soup), lamp with honey, 'flamenquín', 'rabo de toro'
(bull's tail), served with regional wines, ie, the Montilla-Moriles
varieties, and followed by different sorts of pastries: 'pastel
cordobés', 'suspiros de Almanzor', etc.
Cooking based on game is also very varied: boar, rabbit, duck
Fiestas, Fairs and Celebrations
The celebrations of Córdoba have a tradition of long
standing, beginning by Holy Week, which is officially considered
of interest to tourists and during which 32 processions and
about 60 platforms with the figures of saints as well as thousands
of penitents, called 'nazarenos', fill the city with mysticism
May in Córdoba. Many are the squares which are decorated
during the celebration of the crosses ( made of flowers) at
the beginning of May.
Córdoba 'Paitos' (ie, inner courts) in the first twelve
days of May; another celebration officially declared of interest
to tourists. In the most traditional areas -ie, El Alcázar
Viejo, San Lorenzo, San Austín -the private inner courts
of the houses are decorated all over with flower pots and flowers
and are open to the public.
The Fair of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (at the end
of May), with many attractions, stands full of girls dressed
in gypsy or typical Córdoba costumes, men on horseback,
etc. The stands are flooded with joy, while wine and dancing
play a leading role at the Fair.
In the first week of September: the Fair of la Virgen de la
Special attention should also be paid to the Holy Week celebrations
in Puente Genil and Baena.
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