One of the most beautiful cities in Andalusia, Cordoba is famous for La Mezquita, the impressive Mosque-Cathedral. Located in Southern Spain, Cordoba was founded by the Romans. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination with many fascinating historical attractions. Here are the best things to do in Cordoba, from medieval landmarks to contemporary artworks.

Things to Do in Cordoba Spain

The city of Cordoba has around 784,000 residents at the last census in 2019. It’s the largest city in the province of Cordoba. It boasts 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the highest amount for a city in Europe.

The best things to do in Cordoba Spain
The best things to do in Cordoba Spain

These are: the Mosque-Cathedral, the historical quarter of Cordoba, the Festival of the Patios and Medina Azahara. Thanks to its location at the highest section of the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba has thrived since Roman times.

Wine and olive oil was shipped from Cordoba to ancient Rome. In 711, Cordoba was captured by Muslim invaders. The mix of different cultures in Cordoba can be seen in the city’s architectural styles, blending Moorish influences with Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance elements.

During the 10th century, Cordoba was an important financial and political hub. The Great Mosque of Cordoba was built within this period.

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1. Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

Known in English as the Alcazar of Cordoba or Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs, this medieval fortress was the main residence of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. The monarchs welcomed Christopher Columbus here before he embarked on his first expedition to the Americas.

King Alfonso XI of Castile commissioned the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos in 1328, in the Mudejar architectural style. It is known for its courtyards and gardens, spread over 55,000 m².

On a hot day, take refuge amongst the garden’s 3 levels, and admire the King’s walk, El paseo de los reyes. Inside the Alcazar, the Hall of Mosaics displays a well preserved series of Roman motifs.

The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos Cordoba - things to do in Cordoba Spain
The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos Cordoba

2. Cordoba Old Town

Wander along the cobbled pedestrianized streets of Cordoba old town, one of the largest in Europe. It includes the San Basilio district, the Roman Bridge, Caliphal Baths, Episcopal Palace and the Alcazar.

Check out the neighbourhood of Santa Marin, to the northeast, with its 13th century Gothic-Mudejar church. In the southwestern section of historic Cordoba, San Basilio is a picturesque area with many patio courtyards.

Plaza de la Corredera is a 17th century town square with four-storied Castilian style buildings. Spread over 67,000 square feet, the pedestrianized zone has many cafes and restaurants.

 The vibrant area of San Andrés-San Pablo is popular for its tapas bars. Palacio de Viana is a 15th century palace with 12 courtyards.

The charming narrow streets in Cordoba old town
The charming narrow streets in Cordoba old town

3. Cordoba Patios

Cordoba is famous for its courtyard gardens or patios. These white walled spaces are adorned with a myriad of flowers in brightly colored planters.

The best time to see the patios in Cordoba is during the first week of May. This is when the Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba takes place.

A week long festival of the patios, this popular celebration has been held in Cordoba since 1918. Locals open up their courtyards to visitors so that they can admire their elaborate decoration.

If you can’t visit at this time, head to Palacio de Viana or the Jewish Quarter, two of the best places to see examples all year round.

The Calleja de las Flores is a short street situated at the intersection with Velázquez Bosco street. Translating as the Street of Flowers, it has white walled buildings adorned with blue flowerpots.

One of the beautiful courtyards in Cordoba Old Town
One of the beautiful courtyards in Cordoba Old Town

4. Cordoba Roman Temple

These Roman ruins on Calle Capitulares bear witness to the importance of the Roman empire in Cordoba. The Templo Romano was discovered in the 1950s, when City Hall was being expanded.

Work on the temple began during the reign of Emperor Claudius, in the first century AD. Monumental columns in the Corinthian style stand proud on the site. You can see other remnants of the temple at the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Córdoba.

Cordoba Templo Romano
Cordoba Templo Romano

5. Jewish Quarter

Known in Spanish as Juderia, the Jewish Quarter in Cordoba is home to one of only three synagogues in Spain. The Synagogue of Cordoba in Calle de los Judios dates from 1315.

La Puerta de Almodavar is a 14th century entrance gate featuring a statue of the philosopher Seneca, who was born in Cordoba.

The statue of Maimonides can be found close to the synagogue, on Plaza de Tiberiades. Maimonides was an astronomer and philosopher in the 12th century. The statue’s feet are shiny, as it’s considered good luck to rub them.

The statue of Maimonides in Cordoba's Jewish Quarter
The statue of Maimonides in Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter

6. Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba

Also known as La Mezquita, Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral is a prime example of Moorish architecture. Located on Calle Cardenal Herrero, this famous Spanish landmark is visited by more than 1.5 million people each year.

They come to admire 856 columns made from marble, onyx, jasper and granite in the prayer hall. These double arches were made from pieces of the Roman temple that previously stood here, as well as other Roman buildings.

The Mezquita complex is spread over 24,000 square meters and includes The Court of Orange Trees or Patio de los naranjos, as well as a belltower with panoramic city views. One of the best things to do in Cordoba, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not to be missed.

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

7. Plaza de las Tendillas

This elegant plaza is the most central part of the city, and one of the oldest squares in Cordoba. A popular meeting point for locals, Plaza de las Tendillas comes to life after 5 pm when the shops open.

The imposing equestrian statue represents Gran Capitán, general Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba. There’s also a huge clock that sounds each hour, with a flamenco guitar chime.

Plaza de las Tendillas in Cordoba
Plaza de las Tendillas – things to do in Cordoba Spain

8. Puerta del Puente

This impressive Renaissance gate was built in the 16th century. Close to the Guadalquivir river, this triumphal arch is appropriately located on Plaza del Triunfo.

Bridge Gate was originally part of the city walls, and was redesigned by Hernan Ruiz III in a monumental style. There’s a permanent exhibition room, explaining the history of the building, and a top floor balcony with panoramic city views.

The Puerta del Puente Renaissance era gate
The Puerta del Puente Renaissance era gate

9. Roman Bridge of Cordoba

While the original Roman bridge in Cordoba was built in the 1st century BC, it was reconstructed by the Moors in the 8th century. San Rafael Roman Bridge is situated next to the Sotos de la Albolafia nature conservation area. Kingfishers, cormorants and grey herons can be spotted amongst the reeds.

There’s a statue of San Rafael, the patron saint of Cordoba in the middle of the bridge. This is a popular place to say a prayer. The bridge has 16 arches and features in Season 5 of Game of Thrones, as the Long Bridge of Volantis.

At the end of the bridge on Puente Romano you’ll find Calahorra Tower. This fortified gate was built by the Moors to protect the city from invaders.

San Rafael Roman Bridge with the Torre de la Calahorra in the distance
The Roman bridge of Córdoba with the Torre de la Calahorra in the distance

10. Sculpture of the Grandfather and Grandson

Known in Spanish as the Escultura Del Abuelo & El Nino, this is a charming sculpture of a grandfather and grandson. The grandson is up a ladder and the grandfather is handing him a pot of flowers to decorate the patio garden.

Designed by Jose Manuel Belfonte, this bronze statue honors the important tradition of the Cordoba patios. You can find it on Plaza Manuel Garrido in the historical quarter of San Basilio.

There are a few more of his works dotted around town, including the Caregiver of Patios on Puerta del Rincón.

Sculpture of the Grandfather and Grandson
Sculpture of the Grandfather and Grandson

Shopping in Cordoba

El Zoco Artisanal Market in the Jewish Quarter is small but has a nice range of crafts on display. Head to Mercado Victoria, a covered market, for local cheese, meat, olive oil and wine.

For locally made leather goods, ceramics or jewelry, Mercadillo El Arenal is worth a browse. This Sunday market on Calle del Infierno has over 240 stalls.

El Corte Ingles is a Spanish department store on Calle Sta. María de Trassierra. It has a good range of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as stylish homeware.

El Zoco Craft Market in Cordoba
El Zoco Craft Market – things to do in Cordoba Spain

Where to Eat in Cordoba

Dine in a former convent at Bodegas Campos on Calle Lineros, visited by politicians and celebrities. For gazpacho, Casa Mazal – Juderia is a good choice.

A popular drink in Cordoba is the fifty-fifty, a mix of sweet sherry and white wine. Try it with some tapas from Bodegas Mezquita – there are 5 branches in the city. Garum 2.1 is known for its salmorejo, a cold tomato soup with bread.

Sherry barrel signed by Tony Blair at Bodegas Campos
Sherry barrel signed by Tony Blair at Bodegas Campos

Guided Tours from Cordoba

If you base yourself in the city center, there are quite a few places that you can easily visit for a day trip from Cordoba, as well as Cordoba city tours:

Getting to Cordoba

The city is easy to reach by high speed AVE train from Seville to Cordoba in 41 minutes. The closest international airports to Cordoba are Malaga and Seville.

Cordoba should not be missed if you’re a fan of architecture, history and great food!

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The best things to do in Cordoba Spain

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