Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things to See and Do in Cordoba, Spain

I stayed at the Hospederia Luis de Gongora, Horno de la Trinidad 7. I really liked the location as it was close to both the main tourist sights (la Mezquita, la Juderia, Alcazar) and the principal shopping district, but it wasn’t inundated with crowds of tourists. I could observe people going about their everyday business – taking their children to school, going to work. The single room was small with poor lighting, but there was a tiny patio on the main floor and free wifi. It was clean, attractive and only cost 40 euros a night.

I try to immerse myself as much as possible in the life of local residents so I avoid tourist restaurants. I found two restaurants that I really liked. Ziryab Taberna Gastronomica (San Felipe 15) was a small, very modern restaurant that had just opened. They had an excellent selection of wine and lots of interesting tapas, including some vegetarian options. CafĂ© Gaudi (Avenida del Gran Capitan, 22 – across from El Corte Ingles) has a lovely art deco interior as well as an outdoor terrace. There is an extensive menu.

Cordoba delighted me by the abundance of flowers, and the Palacio Museo de Viana (Plaza de Don Gome 2), with its 14 patio gardens, was absolutely stunning. Each patio is different with orange trees, pools of water, fountains and flowers. I also enjoyed touring the house. The museum is outside the downtown core so it’s a good opportunity to meander through a different part of the town. Don’t miss the Cuesta Baillo, with its curving stepped street, bougainvillea-draped wall and colourful church bell tower.

There is daily bus service to the archaeological site of Medina Azahara organized by Turismo de Cordoba. It’s a convenient way to get to the site, which is just outside of Granada, and you have roughly 2 hours to wander around the site, which is plenty. I was very glad I took the evening tour as it would have been very hot at midday.

The Iglesia y antiguo Convento de la Merced is an amazingly flamboyant building with a stunning courtyard. And across the street is Plaza de Colon and the Jardines de la Merced, an excellent place to take a break on a park bench.

The tour of the Alcazar is only of moderate interest, but the gardens are fabulous. The Archaeological Museum (Plaza de Jeronimo, 7) has an excellent collection of Roman statues and mosaics and is well worth visiting. In my opinion, it’s not worth going out of your way to visit either the zoo or the botanical garden.

I really enjoyed the concert by Cordoba’s Symphony Orchestra in the Gran Teatro. I also attended a free concert next door to the Gran Teatro in the Centro Cultural San Hipolito.

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