Roman Bridge, CordobaCórdoba is not the biggest city you'll ever visit, and it's all the better for that. All the attractions are within easy reach of each other, and really, Cordoba is one of the lesser known jewels of Spain.

This city has a history that is a match for any in Europe, perhaps the world. It was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Baetica and at one time had more cultural buildings than Rome itself. Today you can still see the remains of the temple built by Claudius Marcellus, the Roman bridge over the river and other artefacts.

However it was in the Moorish era that Cordoba reached the height of its power and influence. It was first conquered by the Moors in 711 and later became the centre of the Caliphate of Cordoba that ruled over virtually the whole Iberian peninsula. While the rest of Europe still languished in the Dark Ages, Cordoba was a large city embodying the most sophisticated culture and the best developed bureaucracy. The Mezquita, CordobaIt is possible that the population reached as high as a quarter of a million and there were more than 100 mosques and 600 public baths in the city. Not only was it pre-eminent in Europe, but visitors came from all over the arab world too, to marvel at the splendours.

The most important monument in the city is the former mosque (the third largest in the world) known as the Mezquita. Following the re-conquest, the Christian conquerors were pragmatic enough to see the architectural, cultural and practical value of the Mezquita and chose to build their own cathedral within its walls. Thus, one of the greatest pieces of medieval architecture has been preserved to this day.

In 1492 Christopher Columbus was in Cordoba when he received news that he had been granted permission by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to mount his expedition to the Indies. Other monuments which are must-see places for a visit are the Alcazar, the Califal baths and the winding streets of the Jewish quarter. Finally, one more historic site that really shouldn't be missed is the ruins of the city of Medina Azahara.

Let's not think of Cordoba as just a city of history though. Each year in May the Festival de Los Patios Cordobeses celebrates the Cordoban love of flowers. Home-owners throw open their patios to visitors and compete for the prize awarded to the most beautifully decorated patio.

Some ideal places to stay in Cordoba are the La Llave de La Judería in the Jewish quarter, the Balcon de Cordoba also in the heart of the old town, very close to the Mezquita, or Hotel Viento 10.

3 Feb 2016, 12:23

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