One of the places I was looking forward to the most on our road-trip around Andalusia was our day in Córdoba and it did not disappoint. From the impossibly beautiful Mezquita to the cute little patios all around town, wandering the city was a delight. Here’s how to spend 24 hours in Córdoba!
The beautiful train station in Andujar
We left Andujar at the crack of dawn by train, bound for a day in Córdoba. When we arrived the city was still waking up and bathed in that beautiful early-morning golden light.
We headed first for the Mezquita, Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral. I’d read a tip on Young Adventuress’ blog that she had managed to sneak in before the church properly opened and suggested others tried to do the same. In fact, it was quite an easy process – you can visit for free from 8:30am and wander about before the mass starts at 9:30am. Not only is this a great budget option, but it was much less crowded than later on – ideal!
Entering the Mezquita complex through the 14th century Puerta del Perdón
The Mezquita, or Mosque-Cathedral, has an amazing history. It is believed that Christians and Muslims shared a church on the site in the 8th century, before it was purchased in whole by the Muslim Emir in 784 who proceeded to construct the first part of the grand mosque that we visit today. It was expanded by successive Muslim rulers over the 9th and 10th centuries, adding on more of the expansive hallways and beautiful arches. Apparently there are 856 columns! In the 13th century, Córdoba was conquered by the Castillian king, and the centre of the mosque was converted to a church, but most of the mosque features were kept. It’s a truly fascinating building!
The Renaissance-era Christian nave
Dad and Zoe enjoying the relative calm
So many beautiful details!
The beautiful mihrab – prayer niche
As the bell began to ring for mass, we crossed the outside patio filled with orange trees in a slight daze, still amazed by the beauty of the Mezquita. It’s a must-visit in Córdoba and I absolutely loved it. If you can get up early enough, it’s definitely worth making the effort to go before mass, simply because it’s so much quieter than later in the day when it fills with tour groups, as my Dad found out when he headed back to take more photographs.
The Patio de los Naranjos
However we were soon brought back to earth by our stomachs reminding us that it was very definitely breakfast time, and headed into the still sleepy streets, via the gorgeous Calleja de las Flores.
Fresh orange juice and strong coffee in hand, I sampled a specialty of Córdoba, a sweet pastry made from pumpkin and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon – delicious!
Our plan for the rest of the day was simply to wander Córdoba’s beautiful streets. The city is famous for its patios, gorgeous inner courtyards designed around a fountain to give relief from the heat – a design that dates back to Roman times. Today you can go on patio tours and there’s even a patio festival, although unfortunately we just missed it this year. Fortunately, there’s still loads you can see on the streets!
Córdoba has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve visited this year – from those gorgeous little patios to the beautiful pops of colour against the white-washed walls. I had to walk even more slowly than normal, just to take it all in! Fortunately the centre of town, where the best-preserved historical buildings are, is also quite small and very easy to get around, with plenty of charming back streets to discover.
I did want to visit one of the historical houses, and chose the Casa de Las Cabezas. It has a beautiful patio and the house is preserved as it would have looked in the sixteenth century. But there’s also a gory history, as it is believed that the heads of 7 princes were hung in the alley outside, in a very bloody end to a dispute. I chose to look past the legend and focus on the gorgeous interior instead!
Another feature I loved, which we saw all over southern Spain, were the bright flower-pots hung on the walls. I’m not sure of the origin, but it sure added to those splashes of colour all over town!
With all this wandering we were getting pretty hungry again, and headed to La Bicicleta for super healthy and delicious food. We tried a few of the specialties – an open sandwich with cured ham and avocado, beetroot salmorejo with cod – a thick soup like gazpacho, that was utterly divine – and their homemade hummus which was fluffy as air. I highly recommend if you’re in town!
Our final stop was down at the river to admire the Roman bridge, which was originally constructed in the 1st century. I was definitely sad to leave beautiful Córdoba, but our next stop was Seville!
Top Tips for 24 Hours in Córdoba:
- It’s definitely possible to only spend a day in Córdoba, although staying for longer would mean you’re able to see those pretty streets at night, or gaze down on the town from the bell tower of the Mezquita, which I imagine would be stunning.
- If you visit nowhere else, make sure you head to the Mezquita – remember you can visit for free between 8:30 – 9:30am (special services permitting)
- Check online to see if there are any special patio celebrations or open homes as some of the best ones are apparently only open at certain times of year
Have you visited Córdoba? What was your favourite sight?