- Beautifully built Califal capital
- City life
- Tapas, dancing
Architecturally astonishing and alive with history, the stately, statuesque city of Córdoba is an Andalucian wonderland of whitewashed walls and winding streets.
If there were a golden triangle of Spanish/Moorish architecture (and there is – just look at a map and join the dots) you’ll find Córdoba at the peak with Seville and Granada making up the foundations. Smaller and more easily overlooked than its higher-profile neighbours, Córdoba holds its own over both: avoiding the tourist logjam of Granada, and, according to UNESCO, which branded the city centre a world heritage site in 1984, boasting better-preserved buildings than Seville. Its dinky size makes Córdoba the perfect place for the ever-so-slightly sluggish sightseer (ancient walled city: check. Jewish quarter: check. world’s third largest mosque: check), and, like its fellow Andalucian towns, it’s always got matadors on its mind, tapas in its mouth and flamenco in its footsteps.
Almost every house in Córdoba has its own decorative little courtyard and fountain. Patios Córdobeses developed from both Roman and Arab cultures and have become an iconic feature of the area – there’s even an annual patio competition and festival where the city’s citizens open their doors to allow the public to view the elaborate displays of flowers and fountains.
- Petite Córdoba is a very walkable town… but if you must resort to wheels then Radio Taxi has the number to call www.radiotaxiCórdoba.com; (+34 95 776 4444).
- Tipping culture
- Small-change-shaped gestured are always appreciated, but tipping is not common Spanish practice.
- Siesta and fiesta
- More modern-minded shops and malls stay open between 10am and 9pm, but more traditional vendors still enjoy the siesta after lunch, often reopening around 5pm. As elsewhere in Spain, nightlife is just that, with most locals dining at 10pm or later, and filling up the tavernas and clubs until the early hours.
- Packing tips
- In addition to a taste for ham and an eye for a good garden, you’ll be best served by the usual southern-Spain staples: sturdy shoes, decent sunglasses, and an airy wardrobe.
- Recommended reads
- The Origin of the Mosque of Córdoba: Secrets of Andalucia by Marvin H Mills; Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Extraordinary Story of El Cordobes by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Córdoba has a heavyweight intellectual heritage; try dabbling in the works of Seneca, Averroes, or Maimonides if ancient philosophy floats your canoe.
- Córdoba’s most characteristic dish is salmorejo, a thick soup made from puréed tomato, garlic, vinegar and bread. Like gazpacho, it’s served cold, and the bowl comes flanked with Serrano ham and boiled eggs. Moor-influenced berenjenas con miel (aubergine with honey) is unlikely to become a worldwide culinary craze, but the Córdobese sure like it.
Pork dishes occupy the most menu-space, with the leader of the herd being flamenquin – thin slices of pork tenderloin rolled in Serrano ham, dusted in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs then deep-fried.
- Time zone
- GMT +1
- Dialling codes
- +34 for Spain; 857/957 for Córdoba.
- Do go/don't go
- As with the rest of inland Spain – scorchio summer months are to be avoided. Spring months such as May can be the most blissfully balmy.
Don't go home without...
…stopping to smell the roses and orange blossom in the city’s abundant gardens.