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8 Best things to see & do in Cordoba

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros
  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Interior of the Mezquita, large striped archways and a high ceiling

Bucket List Experience

Mezquita of Cordoba

Begun in the year 785, when Abd ar Rahman I made Cordoba the capital of al-Andalus, the Mezquita (Mosque-Cathedral). is a breathtaking tour de force designed to show that this western outpost of Islam was equal to anything in the east.

Its seemingly endless columns, horseshoe arches and beautiful double arches melt into distant shadows. Originally open on the sides, with light pouring in, it was walled-in when the Christians built a cathedral in the centre, itself a treasure-filled masterpiece although it seems intrusive in this magical forest of 580 columns, this pure meditation in stone.

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 13+

  • Andalusia, Spain

Three flamenco dancers wearing red perform on stage

Bucket List Experience

Flamenco in Andalusia

Andalusia expresses its passionate soul in the guitars, singing and twirling, stamping steps of its native flamenco – declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.

Most scholars believed the seeds of flamenco arrived in the 15th century with the Roma from India. Over the centuries they slowly migrated west with their castanets and tambourines, absorbing songs and dances in the Middle East and North Africa along the way. The Spanish at first considered it a foreign art, or ‘Flemish’ – hence flamenco.

By the 19th century flamenco as we know it emerged – popularized by Bizet’s Carmen – with shows performed in cafés cantantes (singers’ cafés), the forerunners to the modern tablaos. These are intimate venues with small wooden stages, perfect for the exhilarating machine gun-like zapateado (dancing).

You can hear flamenco’s eastern origins in the singer’s cante jondo (‘deep song’), evoking pain, sorrow and joy, while dancers express each emotion with their bodies, driven by the pulsing percussive strumming of the guitars.

A good show, and there are many here, can send chills down your spine with their duende, the ecstatic ‘demon’ spirit that brings listeners out of themselves.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 90 minutes

When: Daily

Freq: daily

Flamenco at Tablao Cardenal

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Three flamenco dancers wearing red perform on stage

Experience

Very professional Flamenco club founded back in the 1990s near La Mezquita with only 50 seats, but plenty of passion; several of its seven talented artists have won national prizes for their guitar-playing and dancing.

Adult price: £20

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 1 hour

When: Daily

Hammam at Hammam Al Andalus

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Stone hammam beds under arches beside the bathing pool

Experience

Next to La Mezquita, a small hammam in a traditional Andalusian brick, tiles and garden setting. The massages are excellent including the hot stone bed option; it’s so relaxing your two-hour slot will seem to fly by. Book online here.

Adult price: £29

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 1-3 hours

Victoria Market

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

View inside the covered market, where stalls have seating and food on display

Experience

Andalusia’s first food court occupies a 19th-century forged iron building, where 20 stalls sell delicacies from around the world, along with local goodies (the seafood is exceptional); tables in the gardens wait for tasting them in-situ.

Good for age: 18+

Medina Azahara

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Sunny ruins of the Upper Basilica building from the Medina Azahara

Experience

The partially excavated and reconstructed halls, mosque, gate, porticoes and gardens of a 112-hectare mysterious palace city. It was built in the 10th century by Abd-ar-Rahman III, the first Caliph of Cordoba; now a World Heritage Site.

Adult price: £17

Good for age: 18+

El Zoco

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Exterior of the marketplace, with many arches and people walking around

Experience

Also known as the Mercado de la Artesania, this patio house in Calle Judio hosted the first handicraft shops in Spain. Come here to peruse the city’s traditional arts – leather, ceramics and silver – and watch silversmiths make delicate filigree.

Good for age: 18+

Fiesta of Patios

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Exterior of a building with purple trailing flowers covering the facade

Experience

For two weeks in May, home-owners in Cordoba’s old neighbourhoods show off their gorgeous white-washed courtyards to the public, filled with flowers in a mind-bobbling explosion of colour and fragrance.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2 weeks

When: May