To my mind, Córdoba is the most manageable of the destinations in Andalusia for
a short visit. There are two outstanding sights in town and one just outside:
The Mezquita -- former mosque, now a cathedral, one of the most impressive sights
in all of Spain. Allow time for more than one visit. View this superb site posted by the Instituto Cervantes
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos -- former Moorish palace, converted for use by
the Spanish monarchs; beautiful gardens. Allow lots of time to enjoy the walled gardens.
Medina Azahara -- This 10th century Moorish palace complex sits on a hillside.
It is undergoing a slow restoration, but, to my mind, the ruins are as impressive as the restored portions. Worth a
long taxi ride, even if you can't get there by car.
In town, there are many other sights you won't want to miss:
Synagogue -- One of the very few surviving synagogues in Spain, which was once
one of the world's centers for Jewish life.
Callejon de las Flores -- This much photgraphed alley, whose whitewashed walls
are bedecked with flowers, is almost impossible to visit when crowded. SInce everything is outside, try going there
first thing in the morning, and you will have it to yourself and get great pictures, if you use a flash.
Plaza de los Capuchinos -- See this one by moonlight. In fact, allow time
for a walk throughout the cold parts of the city by moonlight. It will be haunting.
Judios -- Walk the streets of the old Jewish Quarter. Read up on Maimonides,
so you know why there is a statue to him there:
Museo Arquelogico -- You may find the Renaissance mansion it is located in to be
as interesting as the mosaice, pottery and artifacts from the Roman and Moorish periods.
Casa Andalusi, Calle Judios, 12 (next to the Synagogue), is a private museum well
worth visiting. It is a private house with a quiet atmosphere and many artifacts of old Cordoba.
Let yourself be lured in by one of the Moorish-style tea-rooms. Sit on cushions
This was the hot restaurant when we were in Córdoba in 2000:
El Churrasco Restaurante; Romero, 16. 957 29 08 19. Fax-957 29 40 81. Great food, including game. www.elchurrasco.com
We understand that the standard restaurant favorite is Caballo Rojo, but we
did not try it.
Hotels -- We stayed in a small hotel, but I cannot recommend it as anything special.
My only advice would be to get something near the center.
For further study of Cordoba in particular and Andalusia in general during the medieval
period, see this course description:
Cordoba Caliphate: Ornament of the World
For anyone visiting Andalusia (Cordoba, Sevilla and Granda, but especially Cordoba),
I highly recommend the two course books, both available from Amazon.com, for a window to a culture you probably do not know
at all, but whose monuments remain in the buildings of Andalusia and whose influence lasts in the Spanish language:
Menocal, María Rosa (the course's author). The Ornament of the World: How Muslims,
Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. Little, Brown and Company, 2002.
Franzen, Cola, trans. Poems of Arab Andalusia. City Light Books, 1990.
The high-speed train from Madrid to Sevilla stops first in Cordoba. This link
will allow you to make European rail reservations. http://www.raileurope.com/us/