The city’s past and present engage a traveler with its architectural marvels, boutique hotels, shopping and food. Mindy Rozenberg of Pisa Brothers recounts her experiences on a recent trip to Cordoba, Spain.
On an itinerary through Spain’s Andalusia region drawn up by Made for Spain, a Virtuoso On-Site, every city we visited this past May—Malaga, Granada, Marbella, Sevilla—came across as special. Why wouldn’t they? Virginia Irurita, founder and co-owner of Made for Spain, was traveling with us, bringing her passion for her country’s history, culture and cuisine. To the Virtuoso’s Local Business Development Team for Spain, which I was part of, Cordoba was the hidden gem. We were there only for a short time but long enough for me to want to go back again and explore more.
On our way to Cordoba from Sevilla, we stopped at the famous Parador in Carmona. Carmona is one of Spain’s national monument cities. This Parador has been a real success story of an old building being restored for modern-day use. Old Arabic buildings have been done up to meet today’s luxury demands. The Parador has a Moorish patio, wonderful halls with decorated ceilings, balconies overlooking a river and many other treats.
Resuming our journey from Carmona, we finally arrived at Cordoba, a charming south-Andalusia town with a multicultural heritage. Throughout the three-century-long Arab domination of the Middle Ages, Cordoba was the artistic and cultural center of the Al-Andalus empire, and the capital of the western Caliphate. Islamic, Jewish and Catholic civilizations have left their marks in this amazing city. Its Mezquita, once the second-largest mosque in the world, has been converted to a church and is now one of the major attractions of the city with its stunning giant arches and over 1,000 columns. The cathedral-mosque is one of the most beautiful monuments in Spain.
|Narrow Street Scenes typify Cordoba.|
We had lunch and a site inspection at the Hotel AC Ciudad de Córdoba, which is at the historical/cultural heart of the city close to the Mezquita and five minutes by car from the city center. Also nearby are Cordoba’s main tourist attractions, business district, shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, making it the ideal base, whether on business or leisure trip. The Ave Train Station, about three miles from the hotel, provides easy access to Cordoba and its surrounding areas.
Like the AC Ciudad de Cordoba, the Palacio del Bailio is in the historical heart of Cordoba and maintains an inspiring balance between the past and the present. We checked in and dropped off our bags before moving on to do a site inspection. The palace, mainly built between the 16th and 18th centuries, was originally one of the larger building complexes in Cordoba following the Reconquista. It was declared bien de interes cultural (of cultural interest) in the monument category in 1982.
Venturing out to explore Cordoba, we were soon at the outstanding gardens of the castle, Alcázar of Cordoba. Other “must-sees,” we found out, included the Museo Arqueologico. This archaeological museum offers insight into the history of Cordoba, from the Roman and Arab to the Visigoth and Christian periods. Not to be missed, and just a little outside of Córdoba, is Medina Azahara, the ruins of a Muslim medieval town.
Of course, there is plenty of eating and shopping to do in Cordoba. For tapas, try Taberna Salinas and Casa Pepe de la Juderia, where you should make sure to ask for a table at night on their roof terrace, especially if it happens to be moonlit, overlooking the Giralda Tower. Try the rabo de toro (bull’s tail), it’s a wonderful stew.
For leather souvenirs, Taller Meryan (Calleja de las Flores 2) is the pick of the lot. For silver, try Espaliu (Cespedes 12).
At the end of it all, I understood why clients rave about Made for Spain. Virginia and her staff put in a lot of work for every client who wants to know Spain better.
|The Mezquita of Córdoba, originally built as a mosque, was converted to a church after the Spanish Reconquista.|