Juderia of Córdoba
Córdoba’s old Jewish quarter (Juderia) dates back to Roman and Visigothic times. As I walk through the entrance gate La Puerta De Almodavar, I find myself easily lost in the myriad stone-paved lanes, decorated interior patios, and hidden plazas. There has to be some form of direction here, but I am at a loss. So I decide to wander aimlessly, letting my feet take me wherever they please. Probably the best way to explore Córdoba.
The Calleja de las Flores or “The Street of Flowers” is listed on many tourism websites for Córdoba. It was such a disappointment. The street comprised only of a couple of potted plants, the type you see in your own backyard. Don’t waste your time looking for this place.
At the heart of Juderia, I chance upon a beautiful synagogue in Calle de los Judios. Built in 1516, this is a fine example of Mudejar art in Córdoba. The building is one of only three such synagogues in Spain. Of course, the area has had to undergo extensive restoration.
If you look along the plastered walls, you can see the inscriptions from the Hebrew psalms, plant motifs, as well as the semi-circular arch where the Holy Scrolls of Law used to be kept.
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos was first constructed in the 8th century as a caliphate residence. After the surrounding realms were re-conquered by the “Christian Monarchs” Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Alcazar in Córdoba became their residence and fortress. It soon became the headquarters for the infamous Spanish Inquisition.
While you have to pay to enter the Alcazar, you can see its gardens by simply walking along the structure’s boundary wall. I had a pretty good view of the place!
Puente Romano of Córdoba
The Puente Romano of Córdoba has been restored and renovated several times. Originally built in the 1st century BC by the Romans, it was first reconstructed by the Moors during the early Islamic conquests in the 8th century. Today, only the 14th and 15th arches are original.
The Puente Romano is constructed over the Guadalquivir River. The entrance to the roman bridge is marked by a triumphal arch.
Mezquita de Córdoba
But one of the grand highlights of my Spain and Portugal road trip, and the reason why I chose to visit Córdoba in the first place, was the Mezquita de Córdoba. This building represents one of the greatest achievements of Islamic architecture. From the magnificent minarets and doorways, to the mesmerizing multi-arched prayer hall, the mosque-cathedral of Córdoba is alone reason enough to place this city on your itinerary.
So moved was the philosopher and poet Muhammad Iqbal, that he described the building in his poem The Mosque of Cordoba:
“Sacred for lovers of art, you are the glory of faith,
You have made Andalusia as pure as a holy land!”