Cordoba Introduction Walking Tour, Cordoba

Cordoba Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Cordoba

It is said that the Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca, named the town Qart Juba which means "Town of Juba," for a comrade general killed in battle. Roman conquerors pronounced the name "Corduba." Close enough.

A Carthaginian settlement on the West Bank of the Guadalquivir River was captured by the Romans in 206 BC. A proper Roman colony was founded near the Iberian settlement in 152 BC. The city was controlled successively by Byzantines and later Visigoths in the 6th century. Islamic rule lasted from the 8th century until the "Reconquista" of 1236.

The Old City of today is a warren of narrow medieval streets lined with mosques, chapels, and vivid orange trees. It is known for its tolerance and multiculturalism. The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba in the city center is overwhelming in size, with a vast interior dedicated to both Christians and Muslims.

The courtyards of Cordoba are intriguing and fascinating. They are adorned with flowers. They have fountains and wells. Annual competitions are held to choose the most beautiful. The Victoria Market is a busy food hall featuring twenty different cuisines. The river is traversed by the pedestrian Old Roman Bridge.

Besides the Patios Fair, which is the courtyard festival and competition, Holy Week should not be missed. In the Crosses of May celebration, flowered crosses appear everywhere in the city. The Cordoba Fair is held in May and June. It features flamenco, bullfights, and, yes, eating and drinking.

The oldest sections of Cordoba, considered together, are the largest "old town" in Spain. La Juderia, a cobbled maze of alleys, was the historic Jewish quarter. Santa Marina is the "Quarter of the Bullfighters." Bohemian San Pablo is jammed with bars. The Alley of the Flowers has got to be the prettiest in Spain.

Cordoba is a must-see destination in Spain. Its flower-scented festivals, museums, churches, mosques, bars, markets, cafes, and historical monuments will call a visitor back again and again.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Cordoba Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Cordoba Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Cordoba (See other walking tours in Cordoba)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba)
  • Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers)
  • Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge)
  • Puente Romano de Cordoba (Roman Bridge of Cordoba)
  • Torre De Calahorra (Calahorra Tower)
  • Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs)
  • Jardines del Alcázar (The Gardens of the Alcazar)
  • Patios de Cordoba (Cordoba Cortyards) and San Basilio Patio 44
  • Calle de los Judios (Jewish Street in Jewish Quarter)
Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba)

1) Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba) (must see)

Abd al-Rahman I, the founder of the Umayyad Arab dynasty that ruled the greater part of Iberia for nearly three centuries, was in flight from Abbasid rebels in 755. The Abbasids had overthrown the Umayyad regime in Syria and had killed most of his family. He saw political opportunities among the Muslim Arabs of the Iberian Peninsula. He came, he saw, and he conquered. Then he built the Great Mosque of Cordoba in 785 AD.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba) became the largest structure in the Islamic world. The ground plan, 590 by 425 feet, covers as much ground as St Peter's in Rome. One-third of the area is the Courtyard of the Orange trees (Patio de los Naranjos), the site of ablutions before prayer. The 14th-century Gate of Forgiveness is next to the bell tower. The Mosque was expanded multiple times under Abd al-Rahman's successors up to the late 10th century.

The bell tower, built by Abd ar-Rahman III in 952, served as a minaret. The actual minaret was enclosed with a strengthening outer shell by Christians in the 16th and 17th centuries. Unlike other important mosques of the time, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba was conceived as a plain horizontal space for prayer as an open yard in the desert.

Within the Mosque-Cathedral is a high, flat roof decorated in gold and colored motifs, supported by striped archways resting on a forest of 856 columns. In 1236 Cordoba fell to King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the religious structure became a Catholic cathedral. The Cathedral's first chapel, the Villaviciosa Chapel, was installed.

The Christian Era additions that came after 1236 up to the current time, included small chapels and some cosmetic alterations. The items added during the 16th century were the cruciform nave, the transept, and the Main Chapel. The columns in the hypostyle main hall were made of jasper, onyx, marble, granite, and porphyry.

Changes came in different styles: Gothic, Baroque, Mannerist, and Renaissance; all this with the Mudejar ornamentation and decoration accents of the original builders. The elliptical dome is sculpted with images of the four evangelists. There are representations of the Trinity, the Fathers of the Church, and images of David, Solomon, Daniel, and Samuel.

Nowadays, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is an important monument in the history of Islamic architecture and is also one of Spain's major historical monuments and tourist attractions, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.
Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers)

2) Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers)

Near the Mosque-Cathedral, in the old Jewish Quarter of Cordoba, on the street named for archeologist and architect Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, is a worn Arabesque capital symbol. It marks the opening of the Alley of the Flowers (Calleja de las Flores.) The narrow passage, wide enough for two abreast, lined with red flowers, is wending its way to a small square.

Vines and cascades of greenery adorn the window grilles on either side of Alley's buildings. The Cathedral's looming bell tower is framed in the distance. The little plaza at the end of the path is a neighborhood courtyard. A small working fountain made by Rafael Bernier, a former resident, graces one side of the square.

The fountain has an octagonal pedestal. Mounted on the pedestal is a simple granite column holding an old Roman Corinthian capital. The alley and the square are not new, but they were refurbished in the last century by architect Victor Escribano Ucelay.

Ucelay replaced the old pavement with Cordoba river stones and granite plaques. He also installed a series of small rounded arches over the alley. Then he whitewashed the fronts of the houses, creating a striking contrast with the red flowers and green pots.

In Cordoba, in early May, when blooming flowers take over the city, silence descends on the Alley of the Flowers. The only sounds heard in the square are twittering birds, the occasional bells of the Cathedral, and the gentle burbling of the fountain.
Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge)

3) Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge)

The Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge) existed in the time of Julius Caesar. It was connected to the Roman Bridge as part of Augusta street (the longest and busiest road built by the Romans in the ancient Iberian Peninsula), and it served as the main entrance to the city. It is said there was a statue at the top of the gate. It was a popular deity, probably Venus, the Goddess of Love. During the Moorish period, Venus was taken off.

During Moorish rule, the gate was known as the Gate of the Bridge (Bab al-Qantara), Gate of the River (Bab al-Wadi), or Gate of Algeciras (Bab al-Yazir). With the coming of the Reconquest (military campaigns to 'reconquer' the Iberian territory occupied by Muslims), it was the Algeciras Gate (Puerta de Algeciras). In 1572, in anticipation of a visit of King Felipe II, mayor Alonso Gonzales de Ortega ordered the bridge to be rebuilt.

The rebuilding started with architect Francisco de Montalban and was finished in 1576 by Hernán Ruiz the Younger. In 1912, during the reign of Alfonso XIII, the gate began to assume its present appearance. Neighboring buildings on both sides were demolished. The Gate of the Bridge was restructured as a free-standing memorial gate in 1928.

At present, the gate is open for visitors. A public exhibition room shows illustrations of the history of the monument. There is a balcony on top, commanding panoramic views of the plaza, the bridge areas, and beyond. More restorative work commenced in 2005.
Puente Romano de Cordoba (Roman Bridge of Cordoba)

4) Puente Romano de Cordoba (Roman Bridge of Cordoba) (must see)

Spanning the Guadalquivir River is the majestically Roman Bridge of Cordoba (Puente Romano de Cordoba). At the north end is the Mosque-Cathedral. At the south end, across the river, is the fortified Calahorra Tower. The 12th-century Arab cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi claimed the bridge "surpasses all other bridges in beauty and solidity."

The Roman Bridge was constructed in the 1st century BC. The ancient Augusta Street (Via Augusta), connecting Rome to Cadiz, passed over the bridge. During the Umayyad dynasty in Spain, governor Al-Samh Ibn Malik al-Khawlani ordered the reconstruction of the old Roman structure. The rebuild had 16 arcades. It was 811 feet long with a width of 30 feet.

In the Middle Ages, the Calahorra Tower and the Gate of the Bridge were built at the Roman construction's southern and northern ends, respectively. The Gate of the Bridge is a reconstruction of the 16th-century Bridge Gate. In the 17th century, a statue of St Raphael by sculptor Bernabe Gomez del Rio was erected in the middle of the bridge. During its history, the Roman Bridge was restored and renovated several times, and only the 14th and 15th arches from the north side are original.

Major restoration work, carried out in 2006, was supervised by city architect Juan Cuenca Montilla. There has been some controversy over the renovations affecting the bridge's appearance. For example, the pink granite replaced the old paving, and the starlings, the massive breakwaters of the archway piers, were cleaned.

Sleeker-looking bollard lights replaced the 19th-century streetlights. The niches of St Acisclus and St Victoria were restored as well. In addition, the north end of the bridge was raised, making it flush with the Riverside Walk (Paseo de la Ribera).

The Roman Bridge, the Bridge Gate, and the Calahorra Tower have been Monuments of Cultural Interest since 1931 and a part of the Cordoba World Heritage Site in 1984. The Roman Bridge was featured in the popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones as the Long Bridge of Volantis.
Torre De Calahorra (Calahorra Tower)

5) Torre De Calahorra (Calahorra Tower)

At the south end of the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, on the bank of the Guadalquivir River, is the formidable presence of the Calahorra Tower (Torre De Calahorra). It is a fortified gate built by the Almohad Moors to protect the old Roman Bridge and the approaches to the center of Cordoba in the 12th century.

The Tower initially consisted of two constructions joined by an archway between them. The archway was redone as a cylindrical tower that connects the original two box-like structures. The fortified gate was extensively rebuilt in 1369 by King Enrique III of Castile. Enrique feared an attack from his notorious brother, Pedro the Cruel.

The Calahorra Tower has eight rooms and houses the Al-Andalus Living Museum, operated by the Paradigma Cordoba Foundation. The museum features educational audio-visual installations showing life in Cordoba between the 9th-13th centuries, at a time of brilliant cultural, artistic, and scientific achievement. It shows how the three cultures of Cordoba, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, existed side by side.

Visitors are allowed to explore the crenelated roof of the Tower, where they can enjoy an unforgettable view of the Mosque-Cathedral and the Old City across the river.
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs)

6) Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs) (must see)

In early medieval times, the site of the Castle of the Christian Monarchs (Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos) was occupied by a Visigothic fortress. In the late 8th century, Abd ar-Rahman and his successors built the Alcazar. The area enclosed baths, gardens, and a library in the western world. Expansion continued under the Almohads (members of a Muslim Berber dynasty) in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Cordoba fell to the Reconquest in 1236. The present-day Alcazar kept by Alfonso XI was redone in the Mudejar style. During the civil war, Alcázar's defenses were upgraded to deal with the advent of gunpowder.

Isabella, Queen of Castile, and her husband Ferdinand II, King of Aragon, used the Alcázar as the first permanent tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition. In 1486 Christopher Columbus had his first audience here to solicit support for his expedition. The Inquisition used the Arab Baths as torture chambers. Napoleon garrisoned his troops here in 1810. In 1821 it was a prison.

Four towers enclose the open areas of Alcazar; the octagonal Tower of Homage is Gothic in style, with an ogival ceiling, the 13th-century Tower of Lions named for the lion-like gargoyles on the roof, the ominous Tower of the Inquisition is circular, and the square Tower of the Dove is a reconstruction of the one demolished in the 19th century.

The Hall of the Mosaics is the main hall of the Alcazar. Under the hall are the Muslim Royal Baths. The Courtyard of the Moriscos has arched verandas. There is a fountain between two ponds. The Courtyard of the Women was once a women's prison.

The Reception Hall has a Roman mosaic of the God Oceanus. The Royal Baths of Dona Leonor, built by Alfonso XI in 1328, are named for his mistress, Leonor de Guzman.

The Alcázar has been declared a Cultural Interest Heritage since 1931. It forms part of the Historic Center of Córdoba, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.
Jardines del Alcázar (The Gardens of the Alcazar)

7) Jardines del Alcázar (The Gardens of the Alcazar)

In the 10th century, Abd ar-Rahman III built an aqueduct. There was an operative waterwheel, or noria, nearby. He planted gardens and orchards supplied with water from the river via a complex irrigation system.

In the 16th century, Queen Isabella ordered the noria to stop. Perhaps it made noise. At any rate, the neglected gardens declined. Come the 20th century, a major renovation and remodeling of what was left of the gardens took place. The resurrected garden was smaller than the original historical area due to road construction along the sides.

The gardens are comprised of 55,000 square meters of palms, cypresses, and orange and lemon trees amid several elegant fountains and ponds. The setup is on three levels: upper, middle, and lower. The upper level is by the Tower of Lions.

The middle level has a grand staircase and two large pools. The lower level has three pools, manicured gardens, the Promenade of Kings, and statues of Christopher Columbus and his patrons, King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella.
Patios de Cordoba (Cordoba Cortyards) and San Basilio Patio 44

8) Patios de Cordoba (Cordoba Cortyards) and San Basilio Patio 44 (must see)

The summer climate around Cordoba has been hot and dry for as long as one can remember. The Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, and Andalusians built their houses to provide light, ventilation, and a refuge from the constant sun.

The typical design favored in Old Cordoba is an inner courtyard. There was a fountain on the patio and a well or basin to collect rainwater. Islamic designers added a porticoed vestibule that leads from the street to a courtyard filled with flowering plants.

San Basilio Patio 44 (formerly 50), in the San Basilio district, is a must-see patio of Cordoba. It is the home of the Friends Association of Cordoban Patios. House number 44 dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Entering through the porticoed vestibule, the visitor finds the patio. The courtyard, surrounded by a two-story edifice, dates from the 15th century. The ground floor houses studios and shops demonstrating Cordoban artisanship and selling typical Codoban products.

Since 1921, the Town Hall has managed the Courtyards and Crosses Festival held in the first weeks of May. Homeowners decorate their houses and patios with flowers in beds and pots. There is singing, dancing, wine and tapas, and a lot of enthusiasm.
Calle de los Judios (Jewish Street in Jewish Quarter)

9) Calle de los Judios (Jewish Street in Jewish Quarter) (must see)

The so-called Jewish Center of Cordoba, dating from the 10th century, is located in the Old City of Cordoba among the streets of Deanes, Manriquez, Tomas Conde, Judios, Almanzor, and Romero. This World Heritage Site harbors the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, the Synagogue, the Zoco Municipal Market, and the Bullfighting Museum.

On Jewish Street (Calle de los Judios), there is a bronze statue dedicated to Maimonides, the famous Jewish doctor and philosopher of Cordoba. During the era of Umayyad rule, from the 10th to the 15th century, Cordoba was the cultural capital of the Western World.

One entrance to the quarter is the fortified Gate of Almodovar, which consists of two towers joined by an arch. The top of the arch is crenelated with pointed battlements. Maimonides Square is located in the Jewish neighborhood by the Bullfighting Museum.

The streets of the quarter are medieval and narrow. Many are dead ends. The plaza and Alley of the Flowers are here. The Synagogue of Cordoba has been a temple, a hospital, a hermitage, and a nursery school. The House of Sepharad, next door, or the House of Memory, is a 14th-century building dedicated to Jewish history and culture in Spain.

The Andalusia House has an exhibit on the manufacture of paper in the Caliphate of Cordoba. Handkerchief Alley is only as wide as an extended hanky. At the end of the alley is a small patio and a fountain.

Walking Tours in Cordoba, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Cordoba

Create Your Own Walk in Cordoba

Creating your own self-guided walk in Cordoba is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Cordoba Jewish Quarter Walk

Cordoba Jewish Quarter Walk

The Judería de Córdoba is the area in Córdoba that was once densely populated by the Jews, between the 10th and the 15th centuries. Back then, it was a time when three world religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – coexisted in Córdoba, although not always peacefully. Attesting to that today are the major religious shrines found in the area, like the Synagogue, the Mosque-Cathedral...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.4 Km or 0.2 Miles
Ancient Roman Sites Walking Tour

Ancient Roman Sites Walking Tour

Under all in Cordoba lies a once redoubtable Roman strongpoint. After Scipio's defeat of the Carthaginians in Llipa, the victorious Romans set up camp by the Guadalquivir River.

Under Augustus, the city gained the status of Colonia Patricia. A perimeter wall was built touching the Guadalquivir River. There were two forums, colonial and provincial. A large amphitheater has been uncovered....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles