The old quarter of historic Córdoba is a world heritage site and, as a visitor, you are transformed back in time. The Capital of both the Roman and Islamic Empires, it was once amongst the most powerful and important Cities in the world.
Amongst the largest Cities in the world in terms of its population in the 10th century, it now is roughly the same size as Granada, but has an intimate feel of a much smaller and contained City.
The ancient walls appear almost recently built and they surround the City giving the visitor the feel of emerging into the middle ages as you walk through them.
Famous for its patios packed to the brim with colourful flowers, the courtyards of Córdoba are a lovely and a cool retreat from the heat of the summer sun.
To many, the mesmerising ‘Mesquita’, the greatest ancient Mosque in the Western World, is the most impressive building in the whole of Andalucía and certainly the only Mosque in the world with a Baroque Cathedral right in the centre.
Cordoba prides itself on its gastronomy with local dishes, such as ‘Salmorejo Cordobés’ and dishes with a distinct Arabic flavour.
The first references to a settlement is from the Carthaginians who named this ‘Kartuba’.
Conquered by the Romans in 206BC, it was renamed Corduba.
During the Roman Civil War, the City was sacked by Julius Caesar in 45BC due to its Pompeian allegiance. And it was later settled with veterans by the Emperor Augustus.
It became the Capital of Baetica, one of three Roman provinces in Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) and had a provincial forum and many temples.
The great Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger, his father, the orator Seneca the Elder, and his nephew, the poet Lucan came from Roman Córdoba.
In 711 when the Moors invaded the peninsula, Córdoba was captured by the Umayyad army.
The new Umayyad commanders established themselves and in 716 it became a provincial capital, subordinate to the Caliphate of Damascus, known as Qurṭuba.
The Saint Vincent Church was shared for worship by Christians and Muslims, until construction of the Córdoba Mosque started on the same spot under the Umayyad Sultan, Abd-ar-Rahman I, in 785.
Designed along the lines of the Great Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, it is now the greatest Mosque in the Western world. And the Sultan personally laboured one hour every day laying stones in its construction.
In May 766, Córdoba was chosen as the capital of the independent Umayyad emirate, later caliphate, of al-Andalus.
Córdoba flourished, becoming a megacity of the time with widely ranging population estimates of between 400,000 and 1,000,000 people.
In the 10th and 11th centuries, Córdoba was one of the most advanced cities in the world and a great cultural, political, financial and economic centre.
Córdoba had a prosperous economy, with manufactured goods including leather, metal work, glazed tiles and textiles, and agricultural produce including a range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and materials such as cotton, flax and silk.
In particular, filigree silver work, from silver mined in the Sierra Morena mountains, is a craft that lives on today with many small workshops producing and selling unique jewellery in this fashion.
It was famous as a centre of learning, home to over 80 libraries and institutions of learning, with knowledge of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, botany far exceeding the rest of Europe at the time.
In 936, a powerful ruler Abd-ar-Rahman III was inaugurated as the first Caliph of Córdoba and became known as the red haired, blue eyed Caliph due to his non-Arab appearance.
But after his death and several subsequent and weaker rulers, the caliphate collapsed, as did Córdoba’s economic and political hegemony, and it subsequently became part of the Taifa of Córdoba.
The old quarter of Córdoba is officially the largest old quarter of any European City with much of it a Unesco World heritage Site.
Of all of the places you visit on one of our tours, Córdoba is the place where ghosts of the past come alive and the presence of a glowing Golden Age is most felt.