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Although I was a very studious kid, there is very little I remember from what I was taught in school, particularly when it came to Spanish history and geography. I memorised what I needed to in order to get top grades in the exams, and then I promptly forgot it all. That is, with the exception of Cordoba. For some reason, the image of the Cordoba Mezquita (mosque) remained ingrained in my memory. Ever since reading about it during the history lessons, I have wanted to visit. In 2021 I finally got my wish and was able to realise my dream of visiting Cordoba.

I’m not sure I can ever do justice to this beautiful city with words or photos. In fact, I’m not sure I can emphasise enough just how wonderful Cordoba is. This city swept me off my feet and promptly secured itself as my favourite destination in Spain! And that is a very high accolade considering how much I love the Basque Country.

As well as sharing my own personal experiences of this delightful city, I will also be telling you everything you need to know about visiting Cordoba so that you, too, can fall in love with it.

5 reasons why you should visit Cordoba

If you have landed on this blog without a clue of what Cordoba has to offer or why you should even continue reading, then let me just give you a very quick snapshot as to why Cordoba should be on your bucket list.

  1. The Cordoba Mezquita, a mosque turned cathedral which is thought to be one of the world’s greatest Islamic buildings.
  2. More UNESCO-protected sites than Rome! Just think about that for a second. Rome is like a walking history book with surprises around every corner. And yet, Cordoba has even more, but with half the number of tourists!
  3. It has the largest historical centre in Spain and was once the second largest city in Europe (yes, you guessed right, that means it also has the second largest historical centre in Europe!)
  4. The flowers! Every one of the 3,000 patios in the historical centre has a patio, and those patios are adorned with flower pots.
  5. It has a fascinating history.

And if those reasons haven’t convinced you, then I am sure these photos will!

Where is Cordoba?

Map of Crodoba showing it in relation to Sevilla, Granada and Malaga

Nestled in Northern Andalucía, in the South of Spain, Cordoba is very often overlooked as tourists flock to nearby Seville, Malaga, and Granada instead. There is no reason to skip it though since it is very accessible by high-speed trains that connect Cordoba with Madrid, Sevilla, Malaga, and Granada. So whether you are travelling to Spain only to visit Cordoba, or whether it is a stop on a longer itinerary, there is no excuse for leaving it out!

I visited Cordoba as part of a much larger Spanish roadtrip and therefore arrived by car. Navigating to Cordoba is easy. Spanish roads are good and on the most part very quiet too. However, one word of caution when you reach Cordoba. The entire historical centre is pedestrian only! Some hotels do offer parking but beware, the streets to get there are narrow, you will need to request special permission to enter the pedestrian zone with a car, and the parking is likely to be very very tight!

A car driving into a very tight garage space! Surprisingly, it didn't hit the sides! Best be a confident driver if you plan to drive in Cordoba!

When is the best time to visit Cordoba?

Cordoba, like the rest of southern Spain, can be explored year-round. However, there are definitely considerations to consider when deciding the best time to visit.

Cordoba in Spring

Although I was there in November (which was also great by the way), I do believe Spring, would be the best time to visit, especially if you want to see the UNESCO patios in all their glory. The temperature at this time of year is very pleasant with an average of 27 degrees and only 4 days of rain a month. The Feria de los Patios takes place in May and is without a doubt when the city is at its most beautiful. More about this festival below! It is worth noting however that April and May are the two busiest months in Cordoba, so expect crowds and premium prices for hotels.

In spring you can expect flowers everything in Cordoba, on balconies, windowshills and walls!

Cordoba in Summer

Cordoba is the hottest city in Spain and as such, summer can be an unbearable time to explore the city. In fact, the reason why all 3,000 historical homes have a patio is because the Romans recognised the danger of the extreme heat and mandated that everyone cover their walls with flowers to create some respite from the sun. The average temperature during the summer months is 34 degrees with less than 1 rainy day a month. It is not uncommon to experience 40 plus degrees in the middle of the day. That is HOT! Because it is the summer holidays is is particularly in August. So not only will you be all sweaty and sticky, but you also won’t be able to avoid the crowds and premium prices.

Cordoba in Autumn

The temperatures drop quite drastically in Autumn down to an average of 19 degrees. The chances of rain are still slim with maybe of days of rain 5 a month. When I visited in November, I experienced bright blue skies and highs of 20s, although the temperature did drop enough during the evening to require a coat. Despite the fact the flowers are no longer in bloom during the autumn months, the patios were still beautiful, and I had the added benefit of not needing to contend with any crowds anywhere in the city. I am a big fan of travelling during the shoulder season, although, I know I will definitely return in the Spring so that I can explore the Feria de los Patios.  

In autumn the patios are not so bright, but still beautiful

Cordoba in Winter

January and February are the months with the least crowds and cheapest prices, yet, Cordoba experiences very mild winters so it is still a great time to visit. You can expect average temperatures of 16 degrees and 6 days of rain a month.

What are the must-do things in Cordoba?

I get on to the more unique activities below, however, sometimes, the really popular places are popular for a reason, and therefore, they are still worth mentioning. If you are like me though and don’t like crowds, I’d definitely consider travelling in the shoulder season as the next 5 suggestions are on everybody’s to-do list (for good reason!).

1. Visit the Mezquita of Cordoba

The Mezquita Cathedral is without a doubt the number one attraction in Cordoba, and the main reason people visit the city. In fact, many Muslims travel from far and wide from all corners of the world to visit one of the world’s greatest Islamic buildings. It is a symbol of the worldly sophisticated culture that flourished here more than a Millenium ago.

Once a Visigothic Church, this was demolished during the Moorish invasion, and instead a great mosque was erected. It served as a mosque for 9 centuries before Cordoba was captured by King Ferdinand III, bringing it back into Christian Spain. It was quickly consecrated as a catholic cathedral and has remained as such until this day.

Some remodeling did take place which has led to a really interesting mix of Moorish and catholic architecture (if you can call Catholic a type of architecture). I have to say, the moors did a much better job (in my opinion at least!).

The Mezquita of Cordoba is the number one must do thing in Cordoba

Should I get a guide?

You can join a guided tour where you can learn about the history of the Mezquita in much more detail. I didn’t do this which I kind of regret, however, I was worried I would get a bit too bored with the intricate details. I like stories that bring a place alive as opposed to dates and facts that I won’t remember.  However, having some additional information whilst ogling at the beautiful structures would certainly have enhanced the experience.

But even without a guide, it was still a wonderful place. I was able to walk around soaking in the serenity and beauty of the building whilst taking 101 photos of the arches, none of which I ended up being completely happy with! If you are going in specifically to take photos make sure you are at the front of the queue and turn left immediately after entering. This should allow you to put some space between you and the other tourists.   

Even on the outside the Mezquita of Cordoba is impressive!

Opening Times

 High SeasonLow Season
Monday – Saturday 10 am to 7 pmMonday – Saturday 10 am to 6 pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays – 8:30 am to 11:30 am and 3 pm to 7 pmSundays and Bank Holidays – 8:30 am to 11:30 am and 3 pm to 6 pm

Hours may vary, particularly during the COVID crisis, so do check before visiting.

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

FREE Entry Monday to Saturday 8:30 am to 9:30 am

Adults €11

Kids (10 – 14 years) €6

Kids under 10 years FREE

You can buy the tickets online or within the courtyard that is adjacent to the mosque-cathedral. As well as a ticket office they also have ticket machines where you can purchase your tickets.

Address: C. Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain

2. Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

The Alcazar of Cordoba is a medieval fortress located in the historic centre, next to the river and close to the mosque. Built on the grounds of the old Visigothic fortress, the Alcazar became the home of the reigning rulers of the time. The Alcazar boasted beautiful gardens, luxurious baths, and the largest library in the west. In fact, during the Moorish rule, Cordoba become the largest and most advanced city in Europe, and firmly planted itself as a leader and pioneer in matters of philosophy, medicine, and astronomy.

When the Christians took over they expanded the fortress into the palace we know today. Luckily, they decided to keep the Mudejar architectural style that the moors had used. Walking through the grounds and gardens of the Alcazar of Cordoba, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Alhambra, in Granada. I sometimes wonder, what architectural wonders will modern civilisation leave the future generations?

I’m finding it hard to put into words just how beautiful the Alcazar is so I will let the photos do the talking.

Opening Times

High Season – 16th June to 15th SeptemberLow Season – 16th September to 15th June
Monday – ClosedMonday – Closed
Tuesday – Saturday 8:30 am to 8 pmTuesday – Saturday 8:30 am to 3 pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays – 8:30 am to 2:30 pmSundays and Bank Holidays – 8:30 am to 2:30 pm

Hours may vary, particularly during the COVID crisis, so do check before visiting.

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

Adults €5

Seniors and Students €2.50

Kids under 13 years FREE

Address: Pl. Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain

3. Visit the Patios

Without a doubt the most enjoyable part of Cordoba for me were the patios. Cordoba is the hottest city in Spain with many days reaching above 40 degrees during the summer months. During the Roman empire, it was mandated that all homes have a courtyard, and that each courtyard be covered in plants to help cool the air. All 3,000 homes (some of which are now restaurants or hotels) within the historic centre still have those courtyards covered in plants.

During the first week of May, Cordoba celebrates the Feria de los Patios, the festival of the courtyards. Homes and businesses across the historic centre open their doors to the public to show off their beautiful courtyards and flower displays. The majority of these courtyards are privately owned and hidden behind closed doors and walls the rest of the year, so it is a real treat to be able to see them.

Each patio is different, each with different adornments

Is it worth paying to visit the extra patios?

Even if you aren’t there in May there are still a number of homes that open their doors. Some for free, others with a small fee (€5 for 5 homes). I highly recommend it! Even though I was there in November and there were no flowers (just the pots on the walls) it was still beautiful. Plus it gives me a perfect excuse to return in the Spring.

You find these beautiful homes in the San Basilio neighbourhood, which deserves a wander around in its own right! A couple of the free courtyards were on Calle San Basilio, which is the same street where you can buy the tickets for the other courtyards. For the small fee of €5 you will receive a map of the area and gain access to 5 courtyards. Some of the homeowners are very chatty and will happily talk to you about the history and the upkeep of the courtyards, whereas others will just let you be.

Two small doors and a couple of colourfall chairs sit in front of a wall covered in plant pots

Acts of kindness

When I reached the courtyard on Calle Postrera it was nearing lunchtime and the owner, Francisco, was getting ready to shut shop. We got chatting, and since I was the only guest there, he treated me to a drink which we enjoyed sitting in the courtyard as he explained the history of the courtyards and the role his family had played in Cordoba’s past. This has to be one of the things I love most about travelling solo. People are much more likely to give you the time of day and express acts of kindness.  

Patios make a great place to sit and enjoy the coolness that the plants offer

Opening Times

The opening times change monthly and they often have exceptions to the opening times given, so I recommend checking when you arrive for the exact timings.   On the whole though they are open 10 am until 2 pm, and then reopen again at around 5pm for a couple more hours. They are closed on Tuesday year round, and not always open on Sunday afternoons. You can see the timings on the Ruta Patios de Cordoba website.

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

Adults €5

Address: Ruta Patios Cordoba, Calle de San Basilio, 14, 14004 Cordoba, Spain

4. Palacio da Viana

Full disclosure. I did not get a chance to visit Palacio da Viana, however, it is one of the top rated spots in Cordoba so I thought I’d include it.

Apparently, this is the place to come to learn about the history of the “patios”. The impressive 14th century palace is surrounded by twelve splendid patios (or courtyards). In addition, it also has a magnificent garden. Each patio represents a different moment in time, bringing to life what these patios would have looked like during the various stages of history, all the way back to medieval times.

I am actually gutted I didn’t know about this when I was in Cordoba as I think it would have been fascinated to see. However, it is much more than just the patios. You can also go inside the palace to admire a number of the rooms and their collections. Expect to find anything from art to dinner sets, mosaics to firearms and everything in between.

Another excuse to return to Cordoba!

One of the Patios in Palacio da Viana

Opening Times

Summer – July and AugustWinter – 1st September through until June 30th
Monday – ClosedMonday – Closed
Tuesday – Sunday 10 am to 3 pmTuesday – Saturday 10 am to 7 pm
Sundays – 10 am to 3 pm

Hours may vary, particularly during the COVID crisis, so do check before visiting.

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

Adults €6 for the patios and €6 for the palace (or €10 if you combine them)

FREE on Wednesdays between 2 pm and 5 pm (patios and ground floors only)

Address: Pl. de Don Gome, 2, 14001 Córdoba, Spain

5. Calahorra Tower

Both a museum and a vantage point, the Tower of Calahorra is a fortified gate that has offered protection from the South ever since the Moors inhabited Cordoba. In the 18th century it was converted into a prison and in the 19th century into a girls’ school before finally being declared a national monument in 1931.

It now houses a really fascinating museum that brings to life what life was like in Cordoba during the 10th century, when Muslims, Jews, and Christians all lived side by side in the city.

As well as the Museum Vivo del Al-Andaluz, you can also climb the stairs to the top of the tower from where you can enjoy a great view of the city, and in particular the Mezquita.

Calahorra Tower at night

Opening Times

Summer – May to SeptemberWinter – October to March
10 am to 2 pm and 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm10 am to 6 pm

Hours may vary, particularly during the COVID crisis, so do check before visiting.

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

Adults €4.50

Address: Puente Romano, s/n, 14009 Córdoba, Spain

What are the unique things to do in Cordoba?

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know I like to try and leave behind the most obvious tourist trail and find places that not as many tourists frequent. Of course, the popular places are popular for a reason, so I normally do see them too. But I always quickly walk away from the throngs of people to find the places only the locals know about.

I’m not going to pretend that the below are hidden gems, as they are not. In fact, they are highly rated on Tripadvisor, but they don’t often appear on people’s “Top Things to do in Cordoba” posts even though I think they definitely should!

1. Medina de Azahara

The Medina de Azahara is the archaeological site of a city that was built during the 10th century. During the civil war of the 11th century the city was destroyed and forgotten. It wasn’t rediscovered until the 20th century. Only a small fraction of the city has been excavated which I think is actually rather exciting, knowing there is still so much more to discover. Because the land was used primarily for grazing in between destruction and rediscovery, it has remained really well preserved, allowing us to truly see what a city would have looked like all those centuries ago.

The site is a complete urban complex including buildings, decorations, and objects that were used for daily activities. It certainly does gives archaeologists a real insight into what the culture was really like during the Islamic civilisation of the time.

How to get to Medina de Azahara

The archeological site is actually on the outskirts of the city. As the crow flies it is just over 7km, which would be an achievable walk for anyone feeling energetic. However, if you’d rather a more comfortable journey then there is a daily bus that will take you there. It leaves from the Avenida Alcazar Tuesday to Sunday, at 11 am. At the weekends there is an additional service at 10 am and during the summer months there is a later bus at 4:30 pm. You need to book the tickets from the tourism office and I recommend double checking timings with them, since everything is currently so fluid since the pandemic and it is possible timetables have changed. The cost of the bus is €10 (€5 for kids between 5 and 12 years).

Whether you travel by bus or by car (or indeed walk), you will need to take a shuttle bus from the reception area to the archeological site which is a further 2 km away.  

Opening Times

January to MarchJuly – September
Tuesday – Saturday 9 am to 5 pmTuesday – Saturday 9 am to 3 pm
Sundays – 9 am to 3 pmSundays – 9 am to 3 pm
April – JuneOctober – December
Tuesday – Saturday 9 am to 9 pmTuesday – Saturday 9 am to 6 pm
Sundays – 9 am to 3 pmSundays – 9 am to 3 pm

Closed on Mondays year round

Hours may vary, particularly during the COVID crisis, so do check before visiting.

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

Adults €1.50 but FREE for anyone from the European Union (damn Brexit!)

Shuttle Bus to get from the Reception to the Site €2.50, Children between 5 and 12 years €1.50

Address: Ctra. Palma del Río, km 5.5, 14005

2. Hammam

Can there possibly be anything better than a nice relaxing massage after a long day of sightseeing? The Hammams are traditional Arab baths. It is a form of steam bath that not only cleans the body but is also meant to clear the mind due the sheer relaxation it provides.

They play a very important role in Middle Eastern culture, not only as a place for relaxation but also for social gatherings and hygiene. Because of the Moorish rule in Spain, there are a number of traditional Hammam buildings that still offer similar services.

The Hammam Al Andalus is only a couple of minutes walk from the Mezquita and offers not only the traditional bath but also a number of spa treatments including relaxing massages.

Photo of a moorish design lamp creating a pattern on the wall

Opening Times and Admission Fees

Every day between 10 am and midnight.

Hours may vary, particularly during the COVID crisis, so do check before visiting.

For a list of prices please visit the official website.

Address: C. Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 51, 14003

3. Feria de Cordoba

Every year, at the end of May, Cordoba comes alive with flamenco, funfairs, horses, folklore presentations, traditional costumes, and arts and crafts vendors. They all take over the “El Arenal” area as people get their party spirit on.

Fiestas and ferias are common throughout Spain with many towns and villages celebrating at least one fiesta or feria a year. During the day all the traditions are celebrated through art performances whilst at night people gather to celebrate drink in hand and dance the night away.

Wherever you are in Spain I highly recommend you visit a town during its festival season. The atmosphere is always electric, and whether you are a party goer or not, you are sure to experience something completely different. When we were in the Basque Country one of the tiny villages had their fiestas so we went down to see what was going on and we ended up mesmerised by their traditional sport: log cutting! It got rather exciting! It truly is the best way to get to know what a town is really about.

In Cordoba you will find Flamenco performances, traditional costume demonstrations, equestrian processions, and a spectacular firework display. There will be loads of booths too, at which to spend your money on arts and crafts, as well as of course, food including tapas!

In 2022 it will be held between the 21st and 28th May. It is free to get in but be prepared for nightmare parking and premium hotel prices.

Two women dressed in flamenco gear on horse bac, waiting their turn for their demonstration during the Cordoba Feria, one of festivities not be missed when visiting Cordoba!

4. Jardin Botanico de Cordoba

As you will know from my Rio de Janeiro and Edinburg posts, I am a Botanical Garden convert. And when you are somewhere as hot as Cordoba, it is actually rather refreshing to leave the hustle and bustle behind and get lost within lush gardens.

The Botanical Gardens of Cordoba are only a short walk along the river from Alcazar de los Reyes. It covers a 13-acre area and includes an arboretum, a rose garden, a botanical school, a water museum, and even an area dedicated to Canarian plants (from the Canary Islands).

There is also a Touch and Smell garden, specially designed for those that are visually impaired. The plants have been chosen specifically for their aroma and texture which offers a great non-visual sensory stimulation.

A beautiful meadow full of flowers

Opening Times

SpringSummerAutumn and Winter
Tuesday to Saturday 10.00 to 20.00 hrsTuesday to Sunday 10.00 to 14.00 hrsTuesday to Saturday 10.00 to 17.30 hrs
Sunday and Holidays 10.00 to 14.00 hrsplus Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 20.30 to 24.00 hrsSunday and Holidays 10.00 to 15.00 hrs

Closed Mondays (except if a bank holiday falls on a Monday the gardens are open but the following Tuesday will be closed)

Admission Fees (Feb 2022)

Adults €3 but only €1 on Sundays

Student, Children and Retired €1.50, €1 on Sundays

Address: Av. Linneo, s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain

5. Leave the city and explore the nearby National Park – Parque Natural Sierra de Homachuelos

It wouldn’t be a true Bea Adventurous blog if it didn’t include a recommendation to explore nature. As much as I loved Cordoba, I was still ready for my countryside fix, and the good news is that El Parque Natural Sierra de Homachuelos is close by, at only 1 hour’s drive away.

As well as offering great views and amazing hikes, the Parque Natural Sierra de Homachuelos is also a birdwatchers paradise. Now, hear me out if you are about to skip on! It wasn’t until my most recent trip to Spain that I truly came to enjoy birdwatching. Up until then I thought you need a full head of white hair (or no head) and a walking stick to truly appreciate it. However, watching 80 Griffon Vultures soar overhead was one of the most mesmerising times of my life. I was truly in the present, thinking of nothing else other than the spectacle unfolding above me.

A majestic griffon vulture with their blond feathers

Homachuelos is home to one of Southern Spain’s largest colonies of Black Vultures, as well as Griffon Vultures, red kites, storks and Bonelli Eagles. If you prefer terrestrial life though, then keep your eyes out for otters, Egyptian Mongoose, deer and boars.

There are a number of great hikes in the area, from 700 metre circular routes to all-day hikes.  

The best way to get to the park is by car, as it is only a 50 minute drive and it gives you the flexibility to explore various areas. However, if you don’t have a car, San Sebastian buses run a service between Cordoba and Homachuelos 4 times a day.

What can I do for free in Cordoba?

Of course, on to the important stuff! Free things to in Cordoba! No matter how frugal I am when travelling, I still end up spending more than I should which is why I love any opportunity to fill my time with free activities!

1. Patio de los Naranjos

This is the courtyard immediately outside the mosque. Although you have to pay to enter the mosque, the courtyard is free, and it’s beautiful!

The rectangular courtyard is planted with orange, palm, and cypress trees in the same pattern as the columns inside the mosque, as if the trees were the continuation of the prayer hall. There are also a number of fountains within the courtyard.

It is the perfect place to relax in the shadow of a tree whilst reading a book or enjoying a yummy ice cream bought from the shop that lies just outside the walls. By the way, I wouldn’t normally buy food right next to the most popular tourist attraction, but the ice cream was cheap and delicious, so I suppose that rule can be broken every now and then!

Address: C. Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain

Orange tree

2. Get lost in the historic centre

There is nothing I love more than getting lost, and Cordoba is the best place to simply wander. The narrow cobblestone streets all hide surprises, whether that be flowers, statues, beautiful buildings, mouth-watering restaurants, or even a pair of skeletons! I’m not sure the skeletons are there year-round! I have a feeling they just hadn’t got round to taking down their Halloween decorations.

What I did find whilst I was walking aimlessly was the remains of an old Roman temple. Builders discovered the 10 columns back in the 50s when they were doing some excavation work. It is believed that they are the remains of the largest Roman temple in Cordoba.

It was in fact whilst getting lost that I also discovered the Patios I spoke about above, as well as the statues I mention below! There is a lot to be said for simply wandering!

Narrow cobblestone streets make up the old historic centre of Cordoba

3. Explore the Jewish quarter

If you follow my previous suggestions you will undoubtedly come across the Jewish Quarter. Nestled in the historic old town, and protected by UNESCO, it is laid out like all traditional Islamic medieval cities. With two central intersecting streets and a labyrinth of smaller streets. The Jewish Quarter stretches from the Mosque all the way to the Puerta de Almodovar.

The Jewish quarter was separated from the rest of the city by a wall. There are two schools of thought. Once that the wall isolated them, another that it protected them. I am not sure which is true, probably both!

I only wandered the street taking in the architecture, however, I’m sure the history of the neighbourhood would have been fascinating so a guided tour may have been best!

One of the many beautiful streets of Cordoba

4. Roman Bridge

Another remnant from the Roman era was the Roman bridge which was constructed in the first century. It did undergo considerable renovation when the moors were in town. Very little, if any, of the original bridge remains, although the fact it has cobblestones was enough to convince me it was Roman (easily pleased!).

There are some great views from the bridge, and if you continue to the end (south bank) you will come to the Calahorra Tower which is worth the small fee just to climb to the top to look back over the view of the city.

Address: Av. del Alcázar, s/n, 14003 Córdoba, Spain

The Roma Bridge with the Mezquita in the background, one of Cordoba's most beautiful sites

5. Go in search of the statues

There are two fabulous statues in Cordoba which I completely fell in love with. The first was in the historic centre, just round the corner from the patios’ entry fees kiosk. It is a statue of a boy standing on a ladder watering the plants with the hand of his grandfather who is standing with a plant outstretched. The work is exquisite, and the sentiment heartwarming.

The second statue is of a woman watering flowers using the traditional can stuck to a pole. Again, the craftsmanship of it is superb. Lifelike really. This one you can find where Plaza de Colon meets Calle Puerta del Rincon Acceso.

What should I eat when in Cordoba?

It is fair to say I am a massive foodie. I love trying new food and I love connecting with a culture through their cuisine. That is why when I was in Cordoba I set about finding their most traditional dishes to try!

1. Salmorejo

A creamy tomato soup, famous in the South of Spain. Although similar to gazpacho, which is also a tomato soup, the Salmorejo is creamier and thicker. It is served cold and like all typical Spanish cuisine it is basic, giving you the chance to really appreciate the true flavours of the dish.

It is made with fresh tomatoes which are blended with some garlic, bread, olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar. Many places will top the soup with some jamon chunks for extra flavour. I am a big fan of jamon so the more the better!  

Salmorejo soup is a tomato soup similar to gazpacho

2. Rabo de toro

Otherwise known in English as oxtail. This dish originated in Andalucía, as a means to ensure no part of the bull was wasted after they had been killed in the bullring. Andalucía of course, is where bullfighting was born, and sadly to this day still remains a big part of their culture.

Every town has their own recipe, but this delicious stew is usually made up of a combination of oxtail, olive oil, carrots, garlic, onions, tomatoes, celery, paprika, red wine, dry sherry, bay leaves and parsley.

When I was in Cordoba I enjoyed it as part of a pastie, similar to Gregg’s in the UK. It was delicious! Should you wish to enjoy one, the pastie shop is called Manolas and is right next to the mosque on Calle Cardenal Herrero where it joins Calle Cespedes. It was a €3.50 well spent!

A rabo de toro pastie

3. Flamenquin

On my first night (only night actually) in Cordoba I stopped for dinner at a lively bar. On the wall they had a poster showing the recipe for a Flamenquin. I thought it sounded delicious so gave it go. The only way I can describe it as a pork roulade made with pork, ham and cheese and then fried in breadcrums. I have to say it was very yummy and reminiscent of one of my favourite meals as a kid: San Jacobo, which was just ham and cheese fried in breadcrumbs.

It is thought they are called Flamenquin as they look like flamenco dancers’ legs.

4. Berenjena en miel

How to take a vegetable and make it unhealthy (and tastier!). Berenjenas en Miel means aubergine (or eggplant in America) in honey. And that is exactly what it is! The aubergine is fried in honey and is delicious!

Aubergine in honey, doesn't look particularly appetising in the photo!

5. Pinchos morunos

Pork skewers marinated in a flavoursome spice blend originating back to the Moorish time. Of course, the moors, who were Muslim, did not eat pork, however, the spice blend is very reminiscent of what you would expect to find throughout Morocco. It is likely the Christians who adapted the original recipe and changed it to pork.

The spice blend usually used is known as ras l hanout. I recently needed ras l hanout for a recipe I was cooking at home, and I quickly came to learn that everyone has their own version. This is because every shop keeper would add their own secret ingredients! The recipe I followed though included cumin, oregano, paprika, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, cayenne and cinnamon.

Writing about it is making me hungry!

Por skewers in a blend of spice

How long should I visit Cordoba for?

I really didn’t give myself enough time. I had started my roadtrip in the Basque region two weeks previously and my money was quickly running out. Because of this I only gave myself 24 hours. Although I did manage to fit a lot in, it was rushed and I left a lot of things unseen.

I’d like to go back with my husband, and when we do we will definitely spend at least two nights (3 days) in the city. However, you could easily spend a whole week there and not get bored. If in doubt, book for longer rather than shorter!

Meeting strangers

One of the highlights of Cordoba was meeting Onur from Turkey. I had been travelling solo for two weeks at this stage so when he reached out on Couchsurfing I was glad for some company as we explored the streets of Cordoba. We put the world to rights as we discussed the double edge sword of tourism and the impacts it is having on Cappadocia (where he is from). We touched on religion, travel, bucket lists and dreams. It was a great way to spend the morning with a like-minded hodophile. If you are wondering what hodophile means it isn’t anything sinister! It is someone who loves to travel! Couchsurfing is not something I had ever done before my solo trip around Spain, but it is definitely something I would do moving forward, whether on my own or whilst travelling with my husband.

Should you visit Cordoba?

Yes! Cordoba definitely deserves to be on your bucket list. Although there are many places I’d love to return to, Cordoba is one of the few that I genuinely think I will go back to. That should tell you just how special it is!

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  1. Oooh now I feel sad that I didn’t get to learn about Cordoba at school! It’s awesome when a nugget of information stays with you so you can go on to make it into a trip!! The Cordoba Mezquita looks incredible.

    Whenever I have been to Spain it has been more to the Catalan areas (my mother in law is from Catalonia) but it looks like we need to pay more attention to the Basque regions. The courtyards, the food, that architecture – I like the look of it all!

    1. So Cordoba is actually in Andalucia, so I would certainly suggest visiting both the Basque Country (for the green scenery and mountains and amazing food), and then also Andalucia for the Moorish architecture and beautiful courtyards! Cataluna is the area I have not yet visited, that is where I need to explore next!

      1. Aaaah gotcha! You can tell I have not visited, I don’t know the Geography of that area well… so I totally misunderstood.

        Andalucia sounds amazing.

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