Córdoba sits on the River Guadalquivir in the north of the Spanish province of Andalucía and is filled with the remnants of its rich history, a good portion of which can be found in La Judería - the Jewish Quarter.
The site to which most tourists flock to when first arriving in Córdoba is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mosque/Cathedral and its surrounding streets. We made our way from our cheap and cheerful hotel on the far side of the river, across the much renovated Roman Bridge, past the statue of San Rafael in its centre, towards the the Jewish Quarter. To our left-hand side was the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs, the Martos Water Mill and the Royal Stables, but swimming with the tourist tide we made our way to the Cathedral.
On our wanders we stopped at the Mudejar House whose gateway dominates the facade at the end of the street in which it stands. Emerging from the winding streets we passed the Caliphal baths and headed towards the Alcázar. Once a Roman fortress, the castle became the residence of the Christian kings from whence the conquest of the Nasrid kingdom and the journey which led to the discovery of America were planned. Climbing the towers affords wonderful views across the Jewish Quarter, along the river, of the Royal Stables next door and the Moorish designed gardens with their water features. Inside the Mosaics Room are wonderful Roman mosaics from the second and third centuries AD mounted on the walls. A peek from the window of the Mosaics Room showed the excavated Roman Baths. Closer examination showed broken wooden walkways so I doubt that anyone will be able to walk above them in the near future and get a closer glimpse of how the baths were laid out. Mid-afternoon and the sun was at its zenith in a clear blue sky - a perfect day for enjoying the gardens of the Alcázar.
With a few miles under our belts (we had also walked from the train station to our hotel which the man at the Tourist office had told us was 'muy lejos' but we ignored him and carried on regardless) a fortifying drink was required. Just up from the Casa Andalusí was Bodega Guzman, a bar frequented by locals - my kind of watering hole. With a small glass of wine for a solitary €, served in what looked like a sherry schooner (the wine was local though it was not a sherry) we sat in a room decorated with bull-fighting memorabilia and soaked up the atmosphere as well as the wine. The men sat around the tables with their schooners and tapas of jamon and queso talking about the daily affairs of home and state.
The beauty of this part of Córdoba is that you can happily wile away the hours just wandering the twisting alleyways enjoying the architecture, the patios glimpsed through doorways, dipping into teterias to sip on mint tea or a bodega for a stronger tipple. And that is what we did until weariness took its toll and we headed back to the hotel. We re-emerged when the moon was climbing through the skies and the bridge and city was lit up.
The next day would be the area of Santa Marina.
Córdoba Tourism http://english.turismodecordoba.org/inicio.cfm
Casa Andalusí http://www.lacasaandalusi.com/ €2,50 entrance fee
Mosque/Catedral http://www.catedraldecordoba.es/index.asp €8 entrance fee
Alcázar de los Reyes Catolicos http://www.alcazardelosreyescristianos.cordoba.es/?id=3 €4,50