Actually it was very hot the day we visited Córdoba, but it is a really cool city and we loved it there. I don’t think I have ever taken so many photos of one place on one day. We weren’t the only tourists, but even that didn’t detract from Córdoba’s charm.
Our mission was to enjoy ourselves in Córdoba without spending a fortune, and I believe we succeeded. Getting there by train from Sevilla wasn’t expensive, particularly as we are over 60 so have a Tarjeta Dorada from Renfe, which costs us 5.05 € for one year and gives us discounts between 25% and 40% on Spanish trains.
Again it is important to research in advance as train fares between Sevilla and Córdoba can vary between 10.80 € and 32.60 € (before discounts) depending on which train you catch. We bought our tickets the day before from a machine and were puzzled to see a message saying there had been an error and to go to the counter. Our tickets looked perfectly OK but we did as we had been told. Apparently we were owed 5 cents each for our tickets!
If we had been real cheapskates we would have caught an earlier train: top tip for keeping costs down in Córdoba is to visit the Mezquita between 8 and 10.30 and get in for free! I have to admit though that the 8 € entrance fee was worth every cent: the Mezquita is truly awesome. According to my guidebook, Córdoba’s Mezquita is the most outstanding example of Islamic art in the Western World, and I’m not going to argue with that. A photo cannot do justice to the dazzling sight of more than 850 columns of granite, jasper and marble supporting the roof.
The original mosque was built between the eighth and eleventh centuries. After the Christian Reconquest in 1236 a number of alterations were made and then in 1523, when Don Alonso Manrique was Bishop of Córdoba, the construction of a cathedral within the mosque began in the centre of the original Islamic temple. It’s an incredible sight.
An hour later and we emerged from the darkness of the Mezquita to continue our exploration of Córdoba. We headed to the river to see the Roman Bridge, with a statue of St Raphael the Archangel, the guardian of the city, in its centre. Our next destination was the Alcázar de los Reyes Católicos, the fortress built in 1328 on the instructions of Alfonso XI. If my birthday had been on 1st September, which was on Wednesday this year, entry would have been free. Never mind, it was worth 4 € to look around the Alcázar, climb up the tower for great views and then stroll around the peaceful gardens.
We had spent nearly four hours wandering around the streets of Córdoba and visiting some of its stunning monuments, so not surprisingly our thoughts turned to food when we left the Alcázar. We had seen several restaurants near the Mezquita, and I had looked up a few on the internet before we started our trip, however this was my birthday and I wanted to celebrate in style! Luckily for John’s wallet, my choice was to have ménu del día at Bodegas Mezquita.
We had noticed that there were cheaper places around, however the wide choice of dishes tempted us to go there, and it only cost us 12.60 € for three courses and a drink. John splashed out on a bottle of wine – after all it was my birthday. Inevitably, because of its proximity to the Mezquita, there were many other tourists there, including four obviously British tourists that we spotted when we arrived just after 2pm. They left shortly after that – clearly still following British timetables! We were brought a complimentary glass of vino dulce with our desserts, which we thought was a nice touch.
After our delicious meal, we were ready for more sightseeing. We knew we couldn’t see everything in one day, but we had made a list of “must-sees” that included the Synagogue, Casa Andalusí and the Archaeological Museum, which is housed in the Renaissance Páez de Castillejo Palace and apparently is one of Spain’s best. Entry for the Synagogue was free as was entry to the Museum, although you have to be a citizen of the EU.
We paid 2.50 € to look round the Casa Andalusí, but it is such a quaint house, with lots of nooks and crannies, a Mudéjar courtyard and a paper museum: I certainly felt it was value for money.
- We loved our day out in Córdoba: every corner that we turned revealed another interesting place to see and another photo opportunity. I have posted more photos of both Córdoba and Sevilla on my facebook page. One day we will return and I will have even more photos to share with everybody!