48 Hours in Cordoba

November 26, 2017 7:00 pm by Taste.Company
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By Maria Steinberg

Cordoba, the enigmatic city in Andalusia, Southern Spain, is most famous for its stunning Mezquita, but there is more that beckons. Once the highly cultured capital of Islamic Spain, it’s a great walking city with narrow medieval streets, gorgeous patios, a lively gastronomic scene, and history in every block. The best times to visit are from April to June, when the city goes all out for Semana Santa and its Festival of the Patios, and when the air smells of orange blossoms.

Getting there

Cordoba is an easy 3-hour high speed train ride from Madrid, only an hour from Malaga, and 45 minutes from Seville.

Day 1

Mezquita (Mosque-Cathedral) 

The heart and soul of Cordoba, the Moors built the Great Mosque in the 8th century over the ruins of a basilica. The Catholic rulers were unwilling to demolish the mosque when Islamic rule ended in 1236 and built a church within it.  Admire the splendid and seemingly infinite number of Islamic style arches and pillars alongside the gothic-inspired Cathedral’s design.

The vast and serene interior of the Mesquita with its magnificent Islamic-style arches and pillars.

Photos Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

The Alcazar 

Once the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition, this imposing Gothic style castle and fortress has gardens with the lushest trees and flowers, and ponds with delightful fountains “dancing” to music.

taste-company-48-hours-cordobaEnjoy a leisurely walk inside the Alcazar’s lush gardens.

Photos Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

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Lunch at Bodegas Mezquita 

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Bodega Mezquita highlights traditional Cordoban specialties in their bar’s background design.

Photos Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

This popular eatery serves tapas and raciones (full portions) of traditional Cordoban cuisine, which carries the influences of the Moors, Jews, and Christian populations who inhabited Cordoba over time. Have the  berenjenas califales, fried eggplant with sweet wine and sesame sauce — a sublime sweet and savory combination.

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The scrumptious beer battered fried eggplant is one of Bodega Mezquita’s bestsellers.

Photo Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

 

La Juderia (the Jewish Quarter)

The Jewish population lived and traded in this area prior to their expulsion in 1492 during the Inquisition. The medieval Synagogue, now a monument, lies within the maze of narrow streets filled with shops and restaurants.

Puente Romano

If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones, you will recognize this ancient bridge over the Guadalquivir River as the bridge in Volantis. Constructed in the 1st century, it’s impressive during the day, but even more so when it’s lit at night.

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Find time to see the beautifully restored 1st century Roman Bridge at night.

Photo Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

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Banos del Alcazar Califal

By the 10th century, Cordoba had about 600 Moorish bathhouses or hammams, including the Banos del Alcazar where caliphs once bathed under an elaborate system of hot and cold rooms. It is Cordoba’s most striking bathhouse – displaying typical hammam design elements such as horseshoe arches and star-shaped skylights.

Cocktails at Taberna El Baron

This little gem of a tapas place in a corner of Plaza Abades is near the Mezquita but still off the beaten path. Sit at the terrace and have their tomate alinado (fresh tomatoes with garlic dressing) and queso de oveja (sheep cheese) with your vino.

Dinner at Maridame

At this restaurant winebar located in La Juderia, ask to be seated at the rooftop terrace and get a lovely view of the Mezquita’s tower as the sun sets. You can’t go wrong with the suckling lamb chops and other meat-centered dishes.

 

Day 2

Palacio de Viana

Also known as Museum of the Courtyards, this 15th century Renaissance manor is surrounded by twelve

exquisite patios representing different eras, styles, and functions. The gorgeous gardens both captivate and calm.

Templo Romano

You’ll find this 2000-year-old temple with its glorious multiple Corinthian columns standing right in a corner of Calle Claudio Marcelo, a busy section of town.

Lunch at Mercado Victoria

This gastro market is housed in a spacious wrought iron pavilion, where numerous food stations offer  traditional and contemporary versions of local cuisine. The La Salmoreteca creates varieties of the Cordoban specialty salmorejo, a cold creamy tomato based soup, gazpacho’s richer relative. Enjoy a three-cup sampler or versions with squid ink or blue cheese

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The salmorejo sampler at Mercado Victoria. The gastro market also offers tapas and fresh seafood,  an arroceria, and wine bars. Photo Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

San Basilio Neighborhood

Cordoba’s lovely neighborhoods are studded with intimate plazas, small churches, and homes that allow you glimpses of their beautiful patios.  Take a few magical hours walking in the San Basilio neighborhood, near the Mezquita.

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Moorish-inspired patios are very much a Cordoban thing, and you’ll most likely see many on a visit.

Photo Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

Dinner at Taberna La Viuda

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The colorful façade of La Viuda, the neighborhood-y restaurant serving simple local cuisine.

Photo Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

Spend your last evening in town at this quiet cozy place located in the San Basilio neighborhood. The simply prepared bacalao scrambled eggs hit the spot. Toast your trip with the typical Cordoban drink “valgas,” a combination of red wine and soda.

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Scrambled eggs with a Spanish twist for dinner at La Viuda. Photo Courtesy by Maria Steinberg

Córdoba is like the Mezquita that it treasures — beautiful, mysterious, and spiritual. To go to this city is to experience the soul of Andalusia.

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