Cordoba was originally just a city I would be passing through en route to cordoba, when my friend recommended it to me. While the Alhambra a crown jewel of southern Spain, Cordoba has it’s on unforgettable jem – the great Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
In doing more research, I realized Cordoba had been the one of the great Jewish cities of Spain before their expulsion in 1492. Old Jewish relics, temples and ruins can be hard to come by, so I quickly added Cordoba to my list.
It meant taking time out of Granada, which I knew I wouldn’t be giving enough time to, but in the game of limited vacations days, you can’t get everything done.
The tourist center was closed, the instructions to my hostel were hard to follow, and my Spanish was rusty, but somehow I managed to find El Sueno Hostel. The hostel was in the Jewish quarter in a beautiful old building. There was colorful tile, a gorgeous courtyard, and free breakfast!
I dropped my stuff and headed down to the river front to enjoy dinner, sampling the “traditional oxtail” dish of the region. The verdict: out of this world amazing.
Great Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
The hostel I was staying in was steps from here, soI was out front in a matter of minutes. The Mosque-Cathedral, built beofre the expulsion of the moors, was deemed too beautiful to destroy and was instead converted into a cathedral.
I recommend getting the audio guide with your tour, leaving you free to stare while absorbing the information. There’s not a ton of signage, so without the tour, you’re limited in learning.
I also purchased tickets to climb the tower – these are timed tickets, so be sure to leave enough time for you to explore the Mosque, or do the towers first, so that you do not miss your slot. It’s the best ariel view of Cordoba you’ll find, as a minaret-turned bell tower (notice a theme).
The Jewish Quarter, Synagogue and Safard house
The greatest impact of this was the lack of things. To think the quarter used to be filled with Judaism, the synagogue was one of the greatest in the land, and it is reduced to a small stone courtyard. Compared to the great mosque-cathedral feet away, its a stark difference. A tour there was singing Hatikvah, which I joined in solemnity. The Safard is part preserved house, part museum. I know much less about Safardic Judaism than I do Ashkenazi, so I found myself learning much about a culture and religion I thought I already knew.
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
This fortress from the 13th century is open for exploring and also has beautiful gardens. I paid the student entry (2 Euro) and set to exploring. There are preserved baths and towers, but it’s the gardens you’ll really want to be seeing.
Plaza de Potro
After a long morning of wandering, I ended up here looking for food. I chose a restaurant with outdoor seating, and ordered plates of meat, cheese and bread, and read for a few hours (vacation means 1 pm glasses of wine right?)
The Useful Stuff:
Why it’s good for thrifty travelers:
While a lot of things did have admission fees, they were all very low cost. I found myself paying 3-6 Euros for admission instead of 15-20 as admission cost for activities in the bigger cities.
As a small city, you can walk everywhere, and thus save money on transit. In total, I paid 4 Euro for 2 bus trips (to/from the train station).
While Madrid and Barcelona were very English friendly, I found little to no English in Cordoba. My Spanish improved rapidly as I was there. I would recommend knowing phrases and common foods – not all restaurants had English copies of the menu.
Siestas are real in Cordoba. I tried to go shopping in the afternoon and found everything was closed. The bigger cities I hadn’t noticed it, but here, it was everywhere. It was a good time to go back to the hostel and relax, but I also felt as though I was wasting time better spent in Granada.
I enjoyed my slow relaxing day in Cordoba, but the slow afternoon cut into time I would have loved to have in Granada, as I found myself rushed and wishing I had more time. Cordoba can certainly be done in a few hours – a great stop while traveling through Southern Spain.
Pin it with the photo below!