Charming Cordoba (pop. 310,000), perched on the south bank of the Rio Guadalquivir, was once the largest city in Western Europe. Cordoba remembers its heyday with amazingly well-preserved Roman, Jewish, Islamic, and Catholic monuments; the city’s mosques, synagogues, and cathedrals accentuate each other with their befuddling proximity. Today, springtime festivals, flower-filled patios, and a steady nightlife make it one of Spain’s most beloved cities.


Trains: Plaza de las Tres Culturas, Av. America (s957 24 02 02). To: Cadiz (21-312hr. 5 per day, ‚16-32); Madrid (2-4hr. 22-31 per day, ‚24-47); Malaga (2-3hr. 10-12 per day, ‚13-19); and Seville (45-60min. 20-29 per day, ‚7-24).

Buses: Estacion de Autobuses, Av. America (957 40 40 40), across from the train station. Aisina Graells Sur (957 27 81 00) covers most of Andalucia. To: Cadiz via Seville (4-5hr.; daily 6pm, M-F also 10am; ‚18); Granada (3hr. 8-9 per day, ‚11); Malaga (3-32hr. 5 per day, ‚11); and Seville (2hr. 10-13 per day, ‚9). Bacoma (957 45 65 14) runs to Barcelona (10hr. 3 per day, ‚69). Secorbus (902 22 92 92) sends cheap buses to Madrid (4Vhr. 6-7 per day, ‚11). Empresa Rafael Ramirez (957 42 21 77) runs buses to nearby towns and camping sites,


Cordoba is split into two parts: the old city and the new city. The modem and commercial northern half extends from the train station on Av. de America down to Plaza de las Tendillas, the center of the city. The old section in the south is a medieval maze known as the Juderia (Jewish quarter). The easiest way to reach the old city from the adjacent train and bus stations is to take bus #3 to Campo Santo de los Martires (‚0.80). Or to walk (20min.), exit left from the station, cross the parking plaza and make a right onto Av. de los Mozarabes. When you reach the Roman columns, turn left and cross Gta. Sargentos Provisionales. Make a right on Paseo de la Victoria and continue until you reach Puerto Almodovar and the old city.

Tourist Offices: Oficina Municipal de Turismo y Congresos, currently in PI. de las Ten-dillas and Campo Santo de los Martires (957 20 05 22) while the old office at PI. Juda Levi, next to the youth hostel, undergoes renovations. Open M-F 8:30am-2:30pm. Tourist Office of Andalucia, C. Torrijos 10 (957 47 12 35), in the Junta de Andalucia, across from the Mezquita. From the train station, take bus #3 along the river until a stone arch appears on the right. Office is 1 block up C. Torrijos. General information on Andalucia. Open May-Sept. M-F 9:30am-8pm, Sa 10am-7pm, Su 10am-2pm; Oct.-Apr. M-F 9:30am-6pm, Su 10am-2pm.

Currency Exchange: Santander Central Hispano, PI. de las Tendillas 5 (957 49 79 00). No commission up to ‚600. Open M-F 8:30am-2pm.

Emergency: 092, Police: Av. Doctor Flemming 2 (957 59 45 80).

Ambulance: urgent902 505 061, main line 957 767 359.

Medical Assistance: Emergencies 061. Red Cross Hospital, Po. de la Victoria (urgent 957 22 22 22, main line 957 42 06 66). M-F 9am-l:30pm and 4:30-5:30pm.

24hr. Pharmacy: On a rotating basis. Refer to the list posted outside the pharmacy in PI. Tendillas or the local newspaper.

Internet Access: In the old city, try NavegaWeb, PI. Juda Levi 1 (957 29 30 89. ‚1.20 per hr.) Enter through the HI youth hostel. In the new city, check out e-Net, C. Garcia Lovera 10 (957 48 14 62). Leave PI. Tendillas on C. Claudio Marcelo, take 2nd left. ‚1.20 per hr. Open daily 9am-2pm and 5-10pm.

Post Office: C. Cruz Conde 15 (957 47 97 96), 2 blocks up from PI. Tendillas. Lista de Correos. Open M-F 8:30am-8:30pm, Sa-Su 9:30am-2pm. Postal Code: 14070.


Most accommodations cluster around the whitewashed walls of the Juderfa, and in old Cordoba between the Mezquita and C. de San Fernando, a quieter and more residential area. Call up to several months before Semana Santa and summer.

H Residencia Juvenil Cordoba (HI), PI. Juda Levi (957 29 01 66;, unbeatable location in the Juderia and a 2min. walk from the Mezquita. A backpacker’s utopia. Internet cafe inside hostel. Reception 24hr. Reservations recommended. Under-26 ‚14; over-26 ‚18. O

Hostal El Triunfo, Corregidor Luis de la Cerda 79 (957 49 84 84;, across from the southern side of the Mezquita. All rooms have AC, phone, TV, bath, and a safe. Singles ‚27-40; doubles ‚46-59.

Hostal-Residencia Seneca, C. Conde y Luque 7 (fax 957 47 32 34). Follow C. Ces-pedes 2 blocks from the Mezquita. Beautiful garden courtyard. Breakfast included. Reservations recommended. Singles with sink ‚21-22, with bath ‚31-34; doubles ‚32-3641-43; triples ‚40-4854-58.

Hostal Rey Heredia, C. Rey Heredia 26 (957 47 41 82). From C. Cardenal Herrero on the northeast side of the Mezquita, take C. Encarnacion to C. Rey Heredia; turn right and the hostel will be half a block down on the right. Singles ‚12; doubles ‚24.

Hostal Maestre, C. Romero Barros 4-5 (fax 957 47 53 95), off C. San Fernando. Immaculate and pleasantly decorated rooms. All with private bath, most with TV. 2 pretty courtyards. Singles ‚22; doubles ‚33; triples ‚42.

Camping Municipal, Av. Brillante 50 (957 40 38 36). From the train station, turn left on Av. America, left on Av. Brillante, and walk uphill for about 20min; or, take bus #10 or 11 from Av. Cervantes. Pool, supermarket, restaurant, and laundry senice. Camping equipment for rent. 1 person and tent ‚8; 2 people and tent ‚12.


The Mezquita area attracts nearly as many high-priced eateries as tourists to fill them, but a five-minute walk in any direction yields local specialties at reasonable prices. Cordobans converge on the outdoor terrazas between Calle Severo Ochoa and Calle Dr. Jimenez Diaz for drinks and tapas before dinner. Cheap eateries cluster farther away from the Juderfa in Barrio Cruz Conde, around Avenida Menendez Pidal and Plaza Tendillas. Regional specialties include salmorejo (a gazpacho-like cream soup) and rabo de toro (bull’s tail simmered in tomato sauce). El Corte Ingles, Av. Ronda de los Tejeres 30, has a grocery store. (Open M-Sa lOam-lOpm.)

El Picanton, C. F. Ruano 19,1 block from the Puerta de Almodovar. Take ordinary tapas, pour on salsa picante, stick it in a roll, and you’ve got lunch (‚1-3). There’s nothing else as cheap or as filling. Open daily 10am-3:30pm and 8pm-midnight. O Sociedad de Plateros, C. San Francisco 6 (957 47 00 42), between C. San Fernando and PI. Potro. A Cordoba mainstay since 1872. Entrees ‚2.60-6.20. Kitchen open 1-4pm and 8pm-midnight. Open June-Aug. M-Sa 8am-4:30pm and 8pm-midnight; Sept.-May Su and Tu-Sa 8am-4:30pm and 8pm-midnight. MCV. O Taberna Casa Salinas, Puerto Almodovar (?957 29 08 46). A few blocks from the synagogue, up C. Judios and to the right. Romantic outdoor patio. (‚3.60-8.40.) Open M-Sa ll:30am-4:30pm and 8:30pm-12:30am, Su ll:30am-4:30pm. Closed in Aug. Meson San Basilio, C. San Basilio 19. The locals love it, and so will you. Dine on one of two floors surrounding a breezy patio or have a drink at the bar. Menus M-F ‚6.50, Sa-Su ‚10. Entrees ‚6.50-14. Open daily l-4pm and 8pm-midnight. AmExMCV.


Built in AD 784, Cordoba’s famous UMezquita is considered the most important Islamic monument in the Western world. Visitors enter through the Patio de los Naranjos, an arcaded courtyard featuring carefully spaced orange trees and fountains; inside the mosque, 850 pink-and-blue marble and alabaster columns support hundreds of striped arches. At the far end of the Mezquita lies the Capilla Vlllavi-ciosa, where Caliphal vaulting appeared for the first time. In the center, intricate marble Byzantine mosaics a gift from Emperor Constantine VII shimmer across the arches of the Mihrab, which houses a gilt copy of the Qur’an. Although the town rallied violently against the proposed erection of a cathedral in the center of the mosque, after the Crusaders conquered Cordoba in 1236 the towering cruc-ero (transept) and coro (choir dome) were built. ( 957 47 05 12. Transept closed for renovations. Open July-Oct. daily 10am-7pm; Apr.-June M-Sa 10am-7:30pm, Su and holidays 2-7:30pm; Nov.-Mar. daily 10am-6pm. ‚6.50. Under-10 free.)

The Juderia is the historic area northwest of the Mezquita. Just past the statue of Maimonides, the small Sinagoga, on C. Judios, is one of Spain’s few remaining synagogues, a solemn reminder of the 1492 expulsion of the Jews. (Open M-Sa 10am-2pm and 2:30-5:30pm, Su 10am-l:30pm. ‚0.50. EU citizens free.) To the south, along the river, is the ESAIcazar, constructed for Catholic monarchs in 1328 during the conquest of Granada. Ferdinand and Isabella bade Columbus adios here and the building later served as Inquisition headquarters. (Open July-Aug. Tu-Su 8:30am-2:30pm; May-June and Sept. Tu-Sa 10am-2pm and 5:30-7:30pm, Su 9:30am-2:30pm; Oct.-Apr. Tu-Sa 10am-2pm and 4:30-6:30pm, Su 9:30am-2:30pm.) The Museo Taurino y de Arte Cordobes, on PI. Maimonides, highlights the history of the bullfight. (Open July-Aug. Tu-Sa 8:30am-2:30pm, Su 9:30am-2:30pm; Sept.-June Tu-Sa 10am-2pm and 5:30-7:30pm, Su 9:30am-2:30pm. ‚3, students ‚1.50. F free.) There is a combined ticket for the Alcazar, Museo Taurino y de Arte Cordobes, and the Museo Julio Romero, which displays Romero’s sensual portraits of Cordoban women (‚7.10, students ‚3.60).


For the latest cultural events, pick up a free copy of the Guia del Ocio at the tourist office. Hordes of tourists flock to see the flamenco dancers at the Tablao El Cardenal, C. Torrijos 10, facing the Mezquita. The price is high, but a bargain compared to similar shows in Seville and Madrid. (‚ 18 includes 1 drink. Shows M-Sa 10:30pm.) La Bulerfa, C. Pedro Lopez 3, is even less expensive. (‚11 includes 1 drink. Daily 10:30pm.) Close to town is ISSoul, C. Alfonso XIII3, a hip and relaxed bar with cozy tables and dreadlock-sporting bartenders. (Beer ‚1.20. Mixed drinks ‚4.50. Open Sept.-June 9am-3am.) Starting in June, the Barrio Brillante, uphill from Av. America, is packed with young, well-dressed cordobeses hopping between packed outdoor bars and dance clubs. Bus #10 goes to Brillante from the train station until about 11pm, but the bars don’t wake up until around lam (most stay open until 4am); a lift from Radio Taxi ( 957 76 44 44) should cost ‚4-6. If you’re walking, head up Av. Brillante, passing along the way Pub BSO, C. Llanos de Pretorio and Brujas Bar right around the corner. Once in Barrio Brillante, where C. Poeta Emilia Prados meets C. Poeta Juan Ramon Jimenez, stop at Cafeteria Terra before hitting the bars. A string of popular nightclubs run along Av. Brillante, including Pub La Moncloa, Club Don Luis, and Club Kachamba.

Of Cordoba’s festivals, floats, and parades, Sem-ana Santa in early April is the most extravagant. During the Festival de los Patios in the first two weeks of May, the city erupts with classical music concerts, flamenco dances, and a city-wide patio decorating contest. Late May brings the Feria de Nuestra Senora de la Salud {La Feria), a week of colorful garb, live dancing, and nonstop drinking.


MADINAT AL-ZAHRA. Legend says that Madinat al-Zahra was built by Abd al-Rahman III for his favorite concubine, Zahra. The ruins of this 10th-century medina, considered one of the greatest cities of its time, were discovered in the mid-19th century and excavated in the early 20th century. Today, it’s one of Spain’s most impressive archaeological finds. (Open May to mid-Sept. Tu-Sa 10am-8:30pm, Su 10am-2pm; mid-Sept. to Apr. Su and Tu-Sa 10am-2pm. ‚1.50. EU citizens free.) Cordoba Vision, C. Doctor Maranon 1, offers transportation and a 2V6hr. guided visit to the site in English. (957 76 02 41. ‚18.) Reaching Madinat Al-Zahra takes some effort if you don’t go with an


Under the caliphate, Arab culture flowered in Cordoba, complete with marketplaces (souks), public fountains, and public baths (bahos arabes, or hammam in Arabic). As Catholics did not have a tradition of public bathing, most of these baths were abandoned, destroyed, or left to ruin after la Reconquista, which ended in the 14th century.

In recent past, many baths around the country have been restored and opened for public usage, allowing visitors to escape temporarily to 11th century Andalucia. The rich Arabic decor, combined with gracious service, make the Cordoban baths a fine spot to relax and wash away your travels. Like any traditional Arab bath, there is a dressing room, cold room, temperate room, and two hot rooms. You can proceed through the rooms in ceremonial order or choose your own sudsy adventure. For further indulgence, try a massage or tea in the tea-drinking room, which offers music, Moorish pastries, and even belly dancing. Banos Arabes, Hammam, Medin Caiiphal. C. Corre-idor Luis de la Cerda 51, 14003. 957 48 47 46, fax 47 99 17; Open daily. Baths every other hour from lOam-mid-night. One bath ‚12; four baths ‚34; bath, massage, aromatherapy, and tea ‚21; bath and massage with student ID ‚16. Reservations required organized tour. The 08 bus leaves every hour from Av. Republica Argentina in Cordoba for Cruce Madinat Al-Zahra; from there, walk 45min. to the palace. ( 957 25 57 00. ‚0.80.) A taxi from Cordoba should cost about ‚26.

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