A Day Trip to Cordoba from Seville
There are many day trips you can do from Seville. It is such a well located city that popular destinations such as Granada and Gibraltar are easily done in a day, as are many beautiful countryside retreats. However, the most popular destination is to Cordoba. The capital of Moorish Spain is most famous these days for it’s unique Mezquita. But a day trip to Cordoba from Seville fits in so much more!
The Roman Influence
Let us start back in Ancient times. With the Romans to be exact. Although a small settlement by the name of Kart-Juba existed from the Phoenician times, it didn’t really gain any significance until after the Romans conquered it in 206 BC. One of the first things you’ll see on a Cordoba day trip, is the Roman bridge. An impressive reminder that people have been coming here for centuries, the bridge was built in the first century BC. Around the time of the bridge’s construction, Julius Caesar made the city capital of the province of Hispania Beatica. One of the few other buildings which remain from so far back in the city’s history is the temple, an impressive ruin hiding meekly on a quiet corner a short walk from the main tourist sites.
The Moorish Influence
Of course, the most famous parts of Cordoba come from its time as the capital of Al-andalus. The Moorish kingdom of southern Spain is believed to have been named after the vandals who occupied the area until the Moors came in 711. During the 10th century, when Cordoba was at the peak of its powers, it was the largest city in Europe. The city of 250,000 (only 74,000 less than today) was an influential political and educational seat for the whole of Europe. Of the many illustrious academics to have hailed from Cordoba, the two most revered are Maimonides and Muhammad Al-Ghafiqi. Al-Ghafiqi was an optometrist credited with inventing glasses – the Spanish word for glasses is gafas which is believed to be derived from his surname.
The Jewish Quarter
Maimonides is the most famous face of Cordoba’s Jewish quarter. The Jewish Quarter is today one of the most visited areas in the city, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A walk around the white washed streets of this neighbourhood will find hidden gems such as artisanal markets and stunning views of the Mezquita. No day trip to Cordoba from Seville is complete without exploring this area.
Of the Moorish period, a fair few buildings remain. Along the water front there are a series of watermills, and the Hammam baths are a unbeatable choice for relaxation. But the most significant building is, without doubt, the Mezquita. The great Mosque was built at the end of the eighth century and is today a working cathedral. This unique building is possibly the greatest example of religions living in harmony in the world.
In the early 11th century, a series of revolutions spelled the end of Cordoba’s reign, with Sevilla becoming the most powerful city in Moorish Spain. In 1236, King Ferdinand III of Castille captured the city, this saw the city go from being the isolated city it had become to declining to just a small town. By the eighteenth century, the population had dropped to a mere 20,000. Despite its decline in fortunes, the medieval age saw a few additions to the city. The old Calahorra tower, which was the main entryway into the city, was given a face lift, and the Alcazar was built. This alcazar become one of the seats of the Spanish Inquisition, with many an untold atrocity occurring behind its gigantic walls.
One of the highlights of a day trip to Cordoba from Seville is the food. Although Cordoba is only a forty-five minute train ride away from Seville, the food here is noticeably different. Many restaurants will offer dishes with Cordobesa or A-la-Cordobese suggesting at a uniquely local way of preparing these famous Spanish dishes. Olive oil production and tasting in Cordoba dates back to Roman times, and the city even has its own sherry wine! Be sure to sample some amontillado while you’re there. The thrill of sampling these new flavours is matched by the relaxation offered by the surrounds in which you sample them. Many of the restaurants of Cordoba have beautiful flower-filled patios where dinners sit in serenity to enjoy their meals.
For any traveller wanting to know more about the culture and history of southern Spain, a day trip to Cordoba from Seville is an absolute must! Every street has its story to tell, and every corner fascinates with hints at the history which has unfolded there. Cordoba is simply not a place that disappoints.
Davey Womack is a tour guide and avid traveller. Read more from his adventures in Spain and around the world by visiting his personal blog.