High Speed to Córdoba

In Lifestyle by Claire Craig

Córdoba’s appeal lies in its spectacular old town.

Its principal draw, the Mezquita, once a mosque but today a cathedral, merges Moorish arches and ornate chapels, making it one of the most incredible religious buildings in the world. The city’s Jewish quarter is full of interesting alleys and a Roman bridge across the Guadalquivir makes this a must on any trip to Andalucía.

Córdoba’s airport doesn’t have any passenger arrivals, so the nearest and most convenient is Malaga, an easy train ride away. From Malaga Maria Zambrano station to Cordoba Central the high speed AVE trains are direct, go like a rocket and cover the 103 miles in less than an hour.

Arriving in Córdoba is like journeying back in time. There can be few places where the presence of past glories become an almost tangible mix of mystic antiquity, lost power and dissipated energy that broods over the place like a ghost. Here on the banks of the Guadalquivir you can see the reminders of three defunct empires – the Roman bridge, a triumphal arch built for Philip II and Córdoba’s great Mosque built more than a thousand years ago.

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More than that, Córdoba is an Andalusian city and a lively one at that, with all the flamenco and music that you could want. Some of Spain’s greatest flamenco players were born here, Paco Peña and Joaquín Cortés.

Everyone who visits Córdoba comes for the great Mosque, but you should spare some time to explore the great city itself. Old Córdoba is one of the largest medieval quarters of any European city and certainly the biggest in Spain. More than Seville, it retains its Moorish character, a maze of whitewashed alleys opening into some of the loveliest patios you could imagine. Best visited in early morning, the cathedral is a statement of monumental importance. The thoughts and prayers of scores of previous generations can be sensed within the walls of this extraordinary building.

In Córdoba, cultures and religions intersect. They have not simply lived side by side, they have influenced each other. The motifs on the walls of the nearby 14th century synagogue are so influenced by the Mudéjar style that briefly you believe you are looking at something Arabic rather than Hebrew.

As you walk through the Juderia you come across an Arabic archway here, a 600 year old ornamented door there. The Moorish baths are still in use. In this quiet, unhurried part of the Iberian Peninsula, it’s easy to imagine the waves of invaders who have crossed Andalucía.

Before the Romans, there were the Carthaginians, later the Vandals and Visigoths, then the Arabs. Spain became the entrance point to Europe for the empire of Muhammed, the first setting for the encounters between Christianity and Islam that continues to rock the world today. Córdoba was witness to it all, it is a place steeped in history.

Eat

Taberna Casa Pepe de la Juderia, air conditioned rooms and a great roof top on Calle del Romero.

Eat pig’s trotters and braised oxtail at Taberna San Miguel.

Casa El Pisto, an old bar famed for its tapas.

Restaurant Fusion by Sojo, Calle Enrique Romero Torres. Settle down in a comfortable chair, enjoy the view and escape the afternoon heat.

Sleep

Balcon de Córdoba.
Trendy boutique hotel around the corner from the Mezquita.

Lofts Trigo 13.
Self-catering apartments in the old town.

Getting there

To Malaga:
Easy Jet from Belfast International.
Aer Lingus from Belfast City.

On arrival at the airport, the Renfe (train station) is outside close to the terminal. Take the train to Estacion María Zambrano, 3 stops.
Tickets are €1.80
Travel time from Zambrano to Córdoba Central is approx. 1 hour.
Photography courtesy of Córdoba Local Tourist Board.

More information on http://www.turismodecordoba.org