Córdoba may not get the same type of billing as Seville or Granada, but it has a couple of things that are unique in the Western world, making it a fantastic place to visit.

Patio de los Naranjos, Mezquita

The Great Mosque, or Mezquita ♥♥♥, is the foremost of Córdoba attractions. The mighty walls hide delicate arches, more than 850 pillars of granite, jasper, and marble, a dazzling mihrab, and the lovely Patio de los Naranjos. The original mosque was built in just two years by 787 A.D. and then evolved over the centuries, blending several architectural forms. In the 16th century, a Catholic cathedral was built right in the middle of it, requiring part of the mosque to be destroyed. There are a couple of dozens of lavish chapels around the perimeter of the building, some of which are worth a look on their own merits. But it is the breathtaking visual effect of hundreds of columns and arches receding into the vast confines of the building that is most memorable.

A bell tower, Torre del Alminar, stands over one of the gates to the courtyard and supposedly offers a fine view of the city from its top.

The old Jewish quarter ♥♥♥, to the west and north of Mezquita, is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets with wrought ironwork and bright flower arrangements decorating white-washed houses. In no other medieval quarter in a European city, you get quite the same feeling that little has changed since the 10th century when Córdoba was the greatest city in all of Europe. Many houses own beautiful inner courtyards; if you are lucky to find yourself in town in the first half of May, during the Festival of Patios, you can tour as many of them as you like; otherwise, looking through the gates will have to suffice.

Do not miss finding the beautiful Callejon de las Flores ♥♥, a narrow alleyway that brims with colorful geraniums, leading to a tiny square with a fountain.

Walk out onto Puente Romano de Córdoba ♥ for views of the city. The 2,000-year-old bridge is an attraction in itself.

As at any popular tourist destination, commercialization is everywhere, but among the souvenir shops, there are plenty of interesting craftsman boutiques, especially ones focused on jewelry. Browsing those should be a pleasant diversion.

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is the 14th-century palace-fortress worth considering exploring. Another likely attraction, Palacio de Viana, boasts 13 courtyards of its own, affording you an opportunity to see them even outside of the festival period. It is open for limited hours, and the schedule occasionally changes without notice, which curtailed our ability to see it. Since it is a comparatively long walk from the central area to Viana, make sure that it is open before going if your preference is to go on foot.

Recinto Ferial, well away from the historic city center, is vast fairgrounds, somewhat gaudy architecturally, where seemingly the entire city comes to celebrate its various festivals. The vibrancy of said celebrations makes it a worthwhile visit if you happen to find yourself in Córdoba on a late afternoon of a festival day.

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