The capital of the province of Córdoba has over 330,000 inhabitants and is located in the south of Spain, on the banks of the river Guadalquivir and at the foot of the Sierra Morena. The climate is a mixture of Mediterranean, continental and Atlantic climates, with soft winters and very warm summers (maximum temperatures rising above 40º). Some famous people from Córdoba are: Luis de Gongora (poet), Felipe and Alfonso Reyes (basketball players), Fernando Tejero (actor) and Julio Romero de Torres (painter)
The first reference to Córdoba can be found in the third century b.C, in the tartessian period, when a small settlement that controlled about 50 acres was founded. Thanks to the nearby Sierra Morena mountain range there was a certain abundance of metals and the economy was based on the metallurgy of copper and silver. When the Carthaginians came to the city it received its first name: Karduba, in which you can easily recognize the present name of the city. In 206 b.C the romans conquered the city and started to build their monuments and a forum. It became the scene of various fights between two different groups, the Caesareans and the Pompeiians, until the year 45 b.C. Under the reign of Emperor Augustus the city expanded towards the river. Córdoba was attacked and occupied by the Vandals after the fall of the Roman Empire. A century later the Visigoths appeared in Spain and occupied the city. They also built various monuments. With the arrival of the Arabs in 716 the city became the capital of the Emirate of Córdoba, and practically all of Al-Ándalus. Córdoba grew exponentially, reaching 450,000 inhabitants in the year 1000, making it the most heavily populated city of that time. The city’s best-known building was constructed during this time: The Mezquita de Córdoba. The Christian Reconquista took place in 1236 and all Arabs were ordered to convert or leave the city. Under the reign of King Fernando III several churches were built, both in the city as well as outside. In 1328 king Alfonso XI ordered the construction of the building we now know as the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the royal palace of Córdoba. The city also was the base of operations for the Reconquista of Granada in 1492. Works on the cathedral started in 1523 and were directed by Hernan Ruiz I, he used both Gothic and Renaissance styles. His son Hernan Ruiz II continued working on the cathedral, but he applied Mannerism to his designs. He was also responsible for the construction of the casa de los Villalones. The centuries that followed were characterized by epidemics, droughts and bad governments, causing the city to change and lose much of its former glory. But at the beginning of the 20th century a demographic recuperation took place, but the economic recuperation started only in the second part of the 20th century. New quarters were constructed and the University was founded. Nowadays the city breathes a modern atmosphere, but with respect to the old traditions.
The monuments of Córdoba
La Mezquita de Córdoba
The third biggest mosque in the world, with a surface of over 23,000 m² (large enough to hold 20,000 people), best-known for its 850 columns and 365 arches. Sultan Abderramán started the project and under his direction the first part was built, a huge space with 11 naves and 110 columns. His successor Abderramán II added 8 archways with columns that were used in old Roman and Visigoth monuments. In 961 the most beautiful part of the building was constructed: the Mihrab, decorated with hand-crafted marble. The Kliba, the octagonal cupola was also built. The next expansion took place in the 10th century, but because of the river Guadalquivir was blocking the south side, it was decided to expand to the east. After the Reconquista of 1236 the mosque was altered to serve as cathedral, while using the Arab architecture as a base, which made construction a lot easier, like the Capilla Mayor for example, that was built underneath the Arab windows. The parts of the building that weren’t needed by the Christians were not destroyed, making the building a unique mixture of two cultures. Construction of the cathedral continued and during the 16th century a proposal to enlarge the cathedral caused such a great controversy that emperor Carlos V had to intervene and order the continuation of the works, but it has been said that afterwards he felt sorry for giving the order, because they had to destroy a part of the building. After the big renovation of the 16th century the building received only small modifications and additions. Nowadays it is considered to be a perfect mixture of both Christian and Arab cultures and it remains the pride of the city.
The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
Alfonso XI of Castile ordered the construction of this fort, from where the Catholic Kings directed their campaign against the Kingdom of Granada for 8 years until 1492. In this palace Christopher Columbus received the money he needed for his now famous journeys. With the Reconquista of Spain complete, the Catholic Kings left Córdoba and ceded the Alcázar to the local authorities. Between 1812 and 1931 the building was used as a civil prison. The building has four towers, impressive gardens (with a surface of 55,000 m²) and patios. The Sala de los Mosaicos is the most impressive room and contains beautiful mosaics. In the basement you can see remains of the old baths from the Arab era. Today the Alcázar is used for municipal events.
The Puente Romano and the Torre de la Calahorra
Composed of 16 arches and most likely built in the first century a.C. It was the only point where the river could be crossed without a boat. The bridge has been repaired several times because it fell victim to various wars and revolts. On the other side of the river the Torre de la Calahorra was built, mainly for defence purposes. It is now used as an audio-visual museum of the Middle Ages in Córdoba.
The Plaza de la Corredera
The Plaza de la Corredera looks a lot like both Plazas Mayores in Madrid and Salamanca, but is the only rectangular square in Andalucía, and like its sister squares it is located in the centre of the city. It probably rests on the old remains of the Circo Romano, so we can say that throughout the centuries its function has remained the same: to entertain the people, until the day of today, when the square is used for events like bullfighting and festivals. The form of the square as it is today was created in 1863 by the Salmantine architect Antonio Ramos Valdés, who designed the 113 meters long and 55 meter wide rectangle. In 1896 a small building was erected in the centre of the square but this was deconstructed and replaced by a subterranean one. During construction various mosaics were found that you can see now in the Sala de los Mosaicos of the Alcázar de los Reyes Catolicos.