them in a 10-day competition, the "Festival of the Patios".
The Palacio de Viana, built in the late 15th century, was the home of the Marques of Viana who was close to King Alfonso XIII.
The house is built around 12 patio gardens, each with a distinct design varying from orange trees, palms and fountains to one with a huge 400-year-old Holm Oak. The rooms contain some magnificent tapestries, as well as period furniture and paintings.
To appreciate the intellectual might of Cordoba under the Moors, visit the Museum of al-Andalus in the Tower of Calahorra, on the banks of the Guadalquivir.
Also, about 15 minutes west of the city is the Medina al-Zahra palace built in the 10th century by Abd al-Rahman III. In his heyday, he impressed audiences with a room studded with diamonds and a mercury fountain that visitors thought was liquid silver.
For a tour of the city, local guides can be hired by the hour. Reuters used Juan Torres Carmona, a friendly multilingual guide with a flexible schedule.
The mosque is illuminated at night and there is a spectacular nighttime tour at 10 p.m., dubbed "The Soul of Cordoba."
There is dancing at the Centro Cultural de Flamenco in the Posada del Potro, the former horse stables in the Plaza del Potro. Alternatively, catch a flamenco show near the mosque at El Tablao El Cardenal every night at 10:30.
If you like horses, there's also a popular nighttime show of Andalusian thoroughbreds with flamenco music at the Royal Stables.
BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER
Cordoba offers a wide range of casual outdoor cafťs to fine dining where you can sample regional dishes, some of the best in Spain.
At Casa Pepe de la Juderia at Calle Romero 1, famous local bullfighters are featured on the walls, including the legendary Manolete who died in 1955 after being gored.
Among the best restaurants is Bodegas Campos at Calle Los Lineros 32, where the walls are also adorned with bullfighting poster bills dating back as far as 1899.
Prepare your palate with a glass of Torre de la Barca, a young white wine from the region, accompanied by partridge pate with a dark Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce and olive oil powder. You should try the salmorejo soup, a cream of gazpacho with egg, ham and olive oil.
Meat and poultry are the specialty of this region but if you're not in the mood for a big steak, it's common in Spain