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Cordoba is one of the most fascinating cities in Spain. It boasts an incredible intellectual, architectural and historical heritage. It was the capital of the Roman province and of the Caliphate. It has been included in the list of sites that are part of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It is not actually a big city, it has a population of around four hundred thousand people. But it is a destination that should not be taken lightly, it deserves time to enjoy the narrow streets, the beautiful gardens, delicious food and the great monuments and buildings.
It is possible to reach Cordoba in around four hours driving through excellent highways and enjoying the beautiful panoramas of La Mancha and Northern Andalucia. It is impossible not to be tempted and stop along the way to enjoy the delicious Manchego cheese and some of the great wine. From Seville one can drive or use the train that only takes 30 minutes.
One of the good things is that once one is in Cordoba the car can remain in the parking lot. Cordoba in spite of offering many attractions is a city easy to walk. This is the best way to see everything there and to absorb the magical ambiance.
Probably the first stop and the one never to miss is La Mezquita, nowadays the Catholic Cathedral of Cordoba and certainly one of the most fascinating religious buildings I have ever seen. It still keeps a lot of the look of the ancient medieval mosque in the inside and the outside. The Patio of Oranges is an impressive space decorated with Islamic art. The inside of the Cathedral is breathtaking. In the center one can appreciate the main chapel surrounded by dozens of low arches typical of Islamic architecture. It is a place hard to describe with its colors, lamps, windows and floor everything is special, one really has to be there to fully appreciate it.
El Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is another place not to miss. Everything in Cordoba speaks of the encounter of cultures that has happened here for centuries. It is a Castle with sumptuous gardens built in the XIV century in the same place where an ancient structure belonging to the Caliphate existed. This is the place of the first encounter between Columbus and Ferdinand and Isabella, the Monarchs of that time.
The Madinat Al Zahra is located a little West of Cordoba. It is the remains of the ancient capital of the Caliphate, with ruins of the impressive palace. There is as well a very nice museum, the perfect place to get acquainted with the captivating history of Cordoba.
The best way to fully immersed oneself in this picturesque town is to wander around the old City, an intricate network of narrow streets with vibrant bars and restaurants serving delicious food. If Spaniards are very happy people, Andulcians are probably the best hosts, so be ready to enjoy life at its fullest with great music, excellent wine and succulent dishes.
There are many other landmarks to see in Cordoba, such as the Jewish quarter known as the Juderia, the Roman bridge, other fabulous museums or the famous patios that are places for rest and enjoyment inside the houses, open to the public the first part of may during the contest of Patios Cordobeses. This is a wonderful city and one that certainly should be included in any itinerary of Spain.