Walking Tour of Cordoba, Spain
The city of Cordoba was once the largest city in Europe, with almost 1 million people. Then, 10 centuries ago, it was the capital of Muslim Spain. Now its Old Town is a quaint jumble of narrow streets which are a delight to stroll because most of them are pedestrian-only. Many of the white-washed homes have beautifully landscaped courtyards, visible behind wrought-iron gates. Although this walk is structured to access the major attractions of the city, be sure to simply wander down alleyways just to see what delights they hold.
My walk begins at the southern part of the Old Town, at the north end of the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), near the Bridge Gate, a major entrance into the ancient city.
Head northwest up Calle Trunfo, then left and immediately right on Calle Torrijos to Cardenal Herrero. You are near the entrance to La Mezquita, one of Spain’s and the world’s most important tourist attractions. The Bell Tower (Torre del Alminar), over 300 feet high, dominates the skyline of the Old Town (the brave can climb the steep stairs for a birds-eye view of the city).
La Mezquita wsa built as a mosque in the 8th Century AD and was one of the most important in all of Islam. The interior is postively dazzling, row upon row of red-and-white-striped arches and pillars. Be sure to find the Mihrab, a prayer niche which located Mecca for worshipers.
When the Moors were thrown out of Spain, the center of the mosque was destroyed and rebuilt as a Cathedral, in the 15th Century. The church is also lavish and interesting to explore, despite the incongruity of the situation. Note the exquisitely carved choir stalls and the elegant, often stunning chapels. As you exit, linger a while in the Courtyard of the Oranges.
When you leave the complex, turn left on Cardenal Herrero and straight to Calle Juderia, then Calle Manriquez. Now bear left onto Calle Conde which leads to the second most important attraction in Cordoba, the Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos (Palace of the Catholic Kings). This glorious fortress was constructed in the early 1300’s and was the place where Christopher Columbus petitioned Ferdinand and Isabella for financial backing on his proposed voyages. The gardens are exquisite, offering tranquility and relief from the often oppressive summer temperatures.
Next, head back up Calle Conde, then slightly left on Calle Tomas which leads to the Plaza Maimonides. Here you will find the Museo Municipal de Arte Taurino, basically a museum to bull-fighting. Because the great Manolete came from Cordoba there is much information and many artifacts from his days in the bullring.
From the square, head west to Plaza Tiberiades then northwest on Calle de los Judios where you will find the Sinagoga, one of the few remaining Jewish synagogues in Spain. Obviously, you are in the old Jewish Quarter of the city.
After your visit, continue northwest to Calle Almanzor the right on Calle Fernandez Ruano in Plaza Angel Torres. Then turn left on Calle Valladares which leads, with many name changes, to a square which contains St Nicholas Church. Take a right here on Calle Conde de Gondmar and straight across the next plaza to Calle Claudio Marcelo. Ahead on your left are ruins of a Roman Temple.
Just beyond the temple, bear right on Calle R. Marin which leads to one of the most beautiful squares in all of Spain, the Plaza de Corredera. Sit and enjoy a coffee or a beer as you admire the elegant buildings and orange-and-blue color scheme.
When done here, head south on Calle S Pena which changes names before entering Plaza Potro and the Fine Arts Museum. Continue through the plaza down to Calle Luciano and turn right.
At the first significant intersection, bear slightly right onto Calle Corregidor Luis de la Cerda. Turn right again at Magistral Glez Frances which runs along the side of the Mezquita. Take the first left and a quick right onto Calle V Bosco and then make a right into a narrow alleyway, the Callejon Flores (Avenue of the Flowers). A great photo opportunity awaits you near the end of the street and turn back to see the Bell Tower looming above the pretty, flower-bedecked alley.
Now head back to La Mezquita, take a right past the Tower, then left on Calle Torrijos which leads back to the walk’s starting point.