Córdoba has the second largest Old town in Europe, the largest urban area in the world declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
The most important building and symbol of the city, the Great Mosque of Córdoba and current cathedral, alongside the Roman bridge, are the best known sites of the city. Other Roman remains include the Roman Temple, the Theatre, Mausoleum, the Colonial Forum, the Forum Adiectum, an amphitheater and the remains of the Palace of the Emperor Maximian in the Archaeological site of Cercadilla, among others.
Places To Visit
Near the cathedral is the old Jewish quarter, which consists of many irregular streets, such as Calleja de las Flores and Calleja del Pañuelo, and which is home to the Synagogue and the Sephardic House. In the extreme Southwest of the Old Town is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a former royal property and the seat of the Inquisition; adjacent to it are the Royal Stables, a breeding place of the Andalusian horse. Near the stables are located, along the walls, the medieval Baths of the Caliphate. In the south of the Old town and east of the great cathedral, in the Plaza del Potro, is the Posada del Potro, a row of inns mentioned in literary works such as Don Quixote and La Feria de los Discretos and which remained active until 1972. Both the plaza and the inn get their name from the fountain in the centre of the plaza, which represents a foal. Not far from this plaza is the Arco del Portillo (a 14th-century arch).
Along the banks of the Guadalquivir are the Mills of the Guadalquivir, moorish era buildings that took advantage of the water force to grind the flour. They include the Albolafia, Alegría, Carbonell, Casillas, Enmedio, Lope García, Martos, Pápalo, San Antonio, San Lorenzo and San Rafael mills.
Surrounding the large Old town are the Roman walls: gates include the Puerta de Almodóvar, the Puerta de Sevilla and Puerta del Puente, which are the only three gates remaining from the original thirteen. Towers and fortresses include the Malmuerta Tower, the Belén Tower and the Puerta del Rincón’s Tower, and the fortress of the Calahorra Tower and of the Donceles Tower.
Palace buildings in the Old Town include the Palacio de Viana (14th century) and the Palacio de la Merced among others. On the outskirts of the city lies the Archaeological site of the city of Medina Azahara, which, together with the Alhambra in Granada, is one of the main Spanish-Muslim architectures in Spain.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
SITUATION: C/TORRIJOS-CARDENAL HERRERO-MAGISTRAL GONZÁLEZ FRANCÉS-CORREGIDOR LUIS DE LA CERDA
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (World Heritage Site since 1984) is arguably the most significant monument in the whole of the western Moslem World and one of the most amazing buildings in the world in its own right. The complete evolution of the Omeyan style in Spain can be seen in its different sections, as well as the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of the Christian part.
The site which the Mosque-Cathedral occupies has been used for the worship of different divinities since ancient times. Under the rule of the Visigoths, the Basilica of San Vicente occupied this very site, and later, after the Moslems bought part of the plot of land, a primitive Mosque was built. The basilica was rectangular in shape, and for a while was shared by Christians and Moslems. As the Moslem population increased, the ruler Abderraman I acquired the whole site and demolished the basilica to make way for the first Alhama (main) Mosque in the city. Some of the original building materials from the Visigothic basilica can still be seen in the first section of the Mosque built by Abderraman I.
The great Mosque is made up of two distinct areas, the courtyard or sahn, with its porticos (the only part built by Abd al- Rahman III), where the minaret stands – nowadays, encased in the Renaissance tower – and the prayer hall, or haram. The area inside is made up of a forest of columns with a harmonious colour scheme of red and white arches. The five separate areas of the Mosque correspond to each of the five extensions carried out.
Visiting times: See Museums and Monuments Opening Times
The Courtyards (Patios) – World Heritage
WHAT ARE THE COURTYARDS?
Due to the hot, dry Cordoban climate, the city’s inhabitants, – first the Romans and later the Moslems – adapted the typical design of the popular house to their needs, making the home centre around an inner courtyard (patio in Spanish), normally with a fountain in the middle and often a well to collect rainwater. The Moslems made further adjustments, giving the house an entrance from the street which passed through a porch, and filling the courtyard with plants to give the sensation of freshness.
TYPES OF COURTYARDS
There are clearly two types of courtyard. The first type is in a one-family home in which the rooms are arranged around the courtyard – it usually has arches and either a clay tiled or decorative pebbled floor. The second type is called a neighbours house (casa de vecinos). Here the individual homes look out onto the courtyard – however, these are much less common nowadays. It usually has two floors and the courtyard is made all the more attractive by the long balconies, staircases and baked clay roof tiles. The floors usually have decorative pebbles and there is often a well instead of a fountain, as well as a communal washing room.
WHERE ARE THEY?
The most characteristic district is the Alcázar Viejo district, between the Alcázar and the parish of San Basilio, although there are also many in the districts of Santa Marina, around the church of San Lorenzo and near la Magdalena. Just around the Mosque-Cathedral, there are also very beautiful old examples of courtyards in the old Jewish quarter. The most beautiful courtyards of all are to be found in the Palacio de Viana (Viana Palace), with twelve different courtyards