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Cordoba


Cordoba in Andalucia Cordoba is set inland away from the coast in-between Seville / Malaga and Jaen / Granada. The nearest towns are Obejo and Pozoblanco. The nearest golf course is 'Club De Campo' a short drive away and you can also play at Pozoblanco. Cordoba is located in the northern part of Spain in the Cordoba province and has its own airport serving it for domestic and international air travel.

If any city can lay claim to once being the centre of all things economic, technological and scientific in Europe, then it surely must be Córdoba. The origins of its name are uncertain, but it is believed that it might have developed from the Phoenician term Kartuba that means "rich and precious city".

For the Romans it was an area of importance due to its water links along the Guadalquivir River from which exports could be made to Rome and other countries. It was during the 10th century, after the Moors had conquered the Iberian Peninsula, that Córdoba became the greatest city in all Europe, when Abd al Rahman III created an independent caliphate with Córdoba as the capital. He persuaded many of the Middle East's finest scholars, philosophers and architects to settle in the peninsula and they turned the region of Andalucía into the most powerful in Europe, with scientific and technological advances which were years ahead of that elsewhere. The Moors built universities and hospitals, but in particular it is the mosque, or Mezquita, that stands out as their most impressive achievement.

This mosque is the heart of Córdoba; the third largest in Islam, it more than doubled in size between the 8th and 10th centuries. The interior covers over 23,000 square metres and has 19 aisles, each 175 metres long and it is quite possible that the building contained tens of thousands of people during times of worship. Although documents indicate that the permanent population of Córdoba was around a quarter of a million during the height of the occupation, it is more probable that the actual figure is closer to three quarters of a million.

The interior of the mosque is a maze of pillars, each built with alternating bands of brick and chalk, which creates a patterned, textured effect. As it grew in size other pieces of architecture were incorporated into the design from other sites around the town, such as the pillars brought from the Roman theatre.

One of the most outstanding features is the mihrab prayer niche, which, naturally, points towards Mecca. It also features a dome carved and plated with tiles and mosaics.

When Ferdiand III conquered Córdoba in the 13th century he destroyed many of the buildings of Moorish design with the exception of the mosque, which was considered so beautiful it was converted into a Christian church by building an interior altar and by blocking up many of the archways. Until recently Christians insisted that it belonged to them and local Moslems are still not permitted to use the building for prayers.

Behind the mosque, on the banks of the River Guadalquivir, you will find the Alcázar, which is the site from where the Spanish Inquisition conducted their operations during the Granada conquests. It is a superb palace fortress with many beautifully maintained gardens and peaceful fountains within its grounds.

Behind the mosque and stretching from one bank of the River Guadalquivir to the other stands the mighty Puento Romano Bridge. Built, as its name suggests, during the period of the Roman occupation, this structure has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, although today's bridge still stands on the original foundations.

Just off Calle Victor Rosco by the mosque you will find the Callejo de Flores, a small-whitewashed street with colourfully contrasting flowers hanging from the walls either in baskets or pots.

The Museum Taurino, or museum of bullfighting, is also close to the Mezquita and contains a replica tomb, which is dedicated to the bullfighter, Manolette, who was arguably the most exciting matador in the history of the corrida and who met an untimely death when he was gored to death by a bull called Islero. On the wall of this tomb is the hide of the bull that killed him.

There are, in fact, several museums in this great city, the first of which is the Museo Julio Romero de Torres in the Plaza del Potro. Julio was one of Córdoba's greatest artists and he is particularly well known for his nude portraits. Located just across the same square is the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, where you can see the works of Zurbarán and Murillo.

Another Museum definitely worth a visit is the Museo Arqueologico with many fascinating displays of Roman and Moorish craft including pottery, bronze work and carvings.

Córdoba displays an energetic and meticulous respect for its own past, which should attract even the least enthusiastic student of history. In contrast with the more uniformly modern tourist destinations of Andalucía, this city uniquely combines a lengthy and honourable lineage with a lively and vibrant engagement with the present.
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