Trip Tips: From mosques to olive groves in Cordoba

Jan 24 2014, 15:44 IST
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Founded by the Romans, Cordoba sits strategically on the Guadalquivir river linking the port of Cadiz to the interior. Reuters Founded by the Romans, Cordoba sits strategically on the Guadalquivir river linking the port of Cadiz to the interior. Reuters
SummaryIf you enjoy combining cultural history, good food and good wine with a stroll through pretty old streets...

If you enjoy combining cultural history, good food and good wine with a stroll through pretty old streets and some olive groves, then the province of Cordoba in Spain's southern region of Andalusia offers the perfect itinerary.

There is perhaps no region of Spain as rich in cultural history and diverse in geography as Andalusia, spread across a varied topography from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts to dramatic mountain peaks and wide valleys of olive trees stretching as far as the eye can see.

Here are tips for getting the most out of a trip to eastern Andalusia from a news agency, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.

The city of Cordoba is less than two hours from Madrid aboard the high-speed "Ave" train, which offers a comfortable ride with excellent waiter service.

Founded by the Romans, Cordoba sits strategically on the Guadalquivir river linking the port of Cadiz to the interior. It was the heart of the Moorish (Arab) empire that ruled Spain for 800 years until the "reconquest" by the Christian forces of King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I in 1492.

The cultural legacy of Moorish Spain is still much in evidence, even if the society around it today is emphatically Christian and westernised.

BI-CULTURAL PLACE OF WORSHIP

Cordoba's Jewish Quarter is where you want to stay as it is inside the old city walls and everything is within walking distance. There are plenty of options, including the highly recommended NH Hotel Amistad that is conveniently located in the Plaza Maimonides.

It's only a short walk through the narrow streets of the old city to the Cathedral/Mosque, indisputably Cordoba's main attraction.

The 16th century cathedral is built on top of the Great Mosque of Cordoba, which was erected in the 8th century by the first emir of the city.

The mosque is stunningly preserved, a forest of 850 columns of granite and marble connected by arches of red stone and red-and-white brick, typical of Cordoba's Caliph architecture.

The two structures are so closely interlocked that only a few steps take visitors from one religion into another.

From the mosque, head towards the Palacio de Viana. Interesting sights on the way include the Plaza del Potro, mentioned in "Don Quijote", and the museum of local painter Julio Romero, famous for his realistic portraits of women.

In May, the streets are full of flowers and houses open their patios and decorate

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