There have been humans living at Cordoba since Neanderthal times! It was a Roman city 2000 years ago, then the Moorish capital of the Iberian Peninsula from the 700s. Under the Moors, it was a seat of knowledge (medicine, mathematics, astronomy) and culture, described at the time as “the ornament of the world”. The Christians conquered it in the the late 1200s.
The Romans built a magnificent stone bridge across the Guadalquivir River. Below the bridge, the Moors diverted the river into channels and built a series of flour mills, all still standing.
The Moors built the Great Mosque, or Mezquita de Cordoba in the 800s. King Ferdinand 111, the Catholic conqueror allowed the church to convert the mosque to a cathedral, which they did by knocking out the centre and building an extravagantly Italianate church within it. It is said that when the king saw the result, he exclaimed, “You have destroyed the most beautiful thing in the world!”
In 1567, King Felipe 11, built the Royal Stables of Cordoba, to accommodate his new breed of Andalusian horses. No visit to Cordoba would be complete without attending an equestrian performance at the stables arena.
There’s also a rather ghoulish Museum of the Inquisition, with actual torture devices used during that infamous period, and graphic images of how they wee used. Not for the faint-hearted!
Which reminds me: If you’ve never seen the Monty Python sketch about the Spanish Inquisition, you must!
We stayed in a beautiful AirBnB apartment in the old Jewish quarter, a few minutes walk from all the sites of historic interest. Fortunately it was double-glazed, with shutters, because the late night revellers staggering home were rowdy at times.
That brings me to the confusing issue of how the Spaniards organise their day: not much happens early, you can get coffee and tostadas (toast), or a pastry, and that’s about it. The shops open around 10 to 11am, then close again about 1.30 or 2.00 for a siesta. Businesses open again around 5pm until 8.00 or 9.00. Restaurants don’t open until about 8pm and close around midnight. Most Spaniards, it appears, have a big lunch, then drinks and snacks (tapas) in the evening. It’s a pretty seductive lifestyle, actually!
The people of Cordoba, and Spain generally, certainly know how to have a good time. They dress beautifully, eat and drink wonderful food, and are given to playing music and dancing in the streets!