Cordoba, Spain Travel Guide

A building is enough reason to place Córdoba at the top of your itinerary: the fascinating multi-colored Mezquita. The Mezquita is one of the largest Islamic buildings in the world and is a symbol of the secular and refined culture that thrived here many years ago when the capital of Islamic Spain was Cordoba and the largest and most sophisticated city in Western Europe. But the Córdoba of today is way more than the Mezquita.

With plenty to see and do, charming accommodation, and excellent bars and restaurants, it deserves much more than the ephemeral visit many travelers make. Cordoba’s true charm unfolds when you explore the winding cobblestone streets of the medieval city of the colorful tourist area immediately around the Mezquita. Some colleagues of mine who run an Edmonton wedding DJ business told me about this hidden gem after they had visited a couple years back so I decided to do some more research on this place. Golden stone buildings and green courtyards appear every few minutes in another picturesque little hidden square. Here are the top must-see attractions in Cordoba, Spain.

Palacio de Viana
The Viana Palace is an impressive Renaissance palace with 12 beautiful courtyards full of plants. It is especially a pleasure in spring. The large building, which was inhabited by the noble Marqués de Viana, is full of antiques and arts. You can simply stroll through the charming courtyards and gardens with a self-guided brochure or take a tour of the rooms. It is located 800 meters northeast of the Plaza de las Tendillas.

Medina Azhara
8km west of Cordoba lies what remains of Medina Azahara, the magnificent palace city constructed in the 10th century by Caliph Abdul ar-Rahman. The complex encompasses a slope and the Caliph’s Palace on the highest level overlooking the open fields and gardens. Residential areas not yet excavated have been removed on both sides. A magnificent museum has been established below the site.

Centro Flamenco Fosforito
Perhaps Andalusia’s best flamenco museum, the Fosforito Center offers exhibitions, films, and information boards in English and Spanish that tell you the guitar history and all the great names in flamenco. The touchscreen videos show the important techniques of flamenco percussion, dance, guitar, and song. Free flamenco shows are also organized, often on Sundays at noon.

Caballerizas Reales
These graceful stables were built in 1570 by order of King Felipe II, as a development center for the great Spanish thoroughbred warhorse. The center still breeds these beautiful horses and trains jockeys and horses in equestrian disciplines. You can follow the training during daily opening hours, Tuesday through Sunday (11 a.m.), or take part in the hour-long show, which remarkably combines the skills of horses and jockeys with dance and music of flamenco.

A Trip Around Cardiff

Cardiff, the capital of Wales since 1955 has embraced the role with vigor, emerging as one of the leading urban centers in the new millennium. Spread between an ultramodern waterfront and an ancient fort, Cardiff has seemingly surprised even itself with how alluring it has become.

Cardiff Castle
At its heart is a medieval keep, but it is the later additions to the castle that capture the imagination. During Victorian times, flamboyant mock-Gothic features were implanted onto this relic, including a lavish banqueting hall and a clock tower. You can access some of this extravagant fantasy world with regular castle entry while the rest of the castle can be visited as part of a guided tour. From 1776 – 1947, when the castle was donated to the city, it was the Butes private domain, the family that transformed this city from a small town to the biggest coal port in the world. The motte-and-bailey Norman shell keep and the 13th-century Black Tower are the most traditional castle-like bits.

Bute Park
Flanked by the River Taff and the Cardiff Castle, this park was donated along with the castle to the city in 1947. With Llandaff Fields, Pontcanna Fields, and Sophia Gardens, it forms a green corridor stretching northwest for about 1.5 miles to Llandaff. All used to be part of the vast holdings of the Buttes. Cooper’s Field is a stone circle erected when this city hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1978. Drawn out in brick on the nearby lawn are the 13th-century Blackfriars Priory dimensions, which was in 1404 destroyed when Cardiff was attacked by Owain Glyndwr. In 1538, the building was finally vacated when Britain’s monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII.

National Museum Cardiff
Mainly devoted to art and natural history, this magnificent neoclassical building is the centerpiece of the 7 institutions scattered around the country that jointly form the National Museum. It is one of the best museums in Britain; you will need at least 3 hours to do justice here. The Evolution of Wales exhibition whizzes visitors through Wales geological history. It is a lively multimedia exhibit placing the country into a global context. Aerial footage of the country’s landscape and films of volcanic eruptions explain the formation of the scenery, while woolly mammoths and model dinosaurs help the children interested.

St. Fagans National History Museum
Historical buildings from different parts of the country have been demolished and reconstructed in the semi-rural surrounds of St. Fagans village. Over 40 buildings are on display, including an 18th-century Unitarian chapel, a school, a watermill, barns, and thatched farmhouses. You will need about half a day to do justice to the entire complex.