Historic Center of Cordoba

From the Historic Center of Cordoba World Heritage inscription for the Historic Center of Cordoba:

Cordoba’s period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest, when some 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings were built to rival the splendors of Constantinople, Damascus, and Baghdad. In the 13th century, under Ferdinand III, the Saint, Cordoba’s Great Mosque was turned into a cathedral and new defensive structures, particularly the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos and the Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra, were erected.

The Historic Centre of Cordoba now comprises the streets surrounding the monument and all the parcels of land opening on to these, together with all the blocks of houses around the mosque-cathedral. To the south this area extends to the further bank of the River Guadalquivir (to include the Roman bridge and the Calahorra), to the east to the Calle San Fernando, to the north to the boundary of the commercial centre, and to the west to incorporate the AIcázar des Los Reyes Cristianos and the San Basilio quarter. The city, by virtue of its extent and plan, its historical significance as a living expression of the different cultures that have existed there, and its relationship with the river, is a historical ensemble of extraordinary value.

Of all the UNESCO sites I have visited in Andalusia, I enjoyed my short time in Cordoba most of all. I found the old town to be quaint, peaceful and relaxing. The center of the city is the mosque/cathedral. As far as I know, it is unique in the world as it is both a former mosque and the current cathedral for Cordova. After the Reconquista, the Catholic Church took over the central mosque and built a Christian church right in the middle of the building. It makes for a fantastic architectural clash.

Cordova is easy to get to by high-speed train from Seville or Madrid and is definitely worth the trip. It is one of the places in Spain I would love to return to, to stay for an extended period of time.


Historic Center of Cordoba

The Historic Center of Cordoba is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Spain. It was inscribed into the list in 1984 as an urban community and landscape. This UNESCO property consists of a Mosque-Cathedral along with its surrounding quarters. This area is a perfect example of how the city flourished during the time of the Islamic Caliphate in Cordoba.

Cordoba is part of the Andalusian region of Spain. It was also conquered by the Moors during the 711 AD along with the rest of the region. This conquest transformed the urban landscape of Cordoba and making it a cultural center.

About the Historic Center of Cordoba

Historic Center of Cordoba

The Historic Center of Cordoba is not only notable for its concentration of cultural and historic structures, but it is also the largest of its kind in Europe. A decade after the site was inscribed into the UNESCO list, it was extended to include the old town. Within the historic center of Cordoba, you will find a wide range of monuments that showcase the heritage of Arabs, Christians, and Romans, which all had an influence on the urban landscape of the city.

In 1236, after the Moors abandoned the city, it became largely Christian again. The mosque was converted into a Christian cathedral. This was under the command of King Ferdinand III. He built new defenses on top of being able to convert to a mosque into a cathedral. It also helped for the newly Christian city to develop and grow. The historic city center consists of palaces, fortresses, and churches. Even though the city no longer held political power with the new Christian rule, it remained to be an important commercial center due to the presence of the copper mines in Sierra Morena.

Some of the most notable monuments found within the city’s historic center include Alcazar des los Reyes Cristianos, Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra, Alcazar, San Basilio District, and the Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir River. The Alcazar was a Moorish castle that was adapted for Christian use in the 14th century. On the other hand, King Henry II also re-worked the Calahorra Tower in 1369. Meanwhile, the following historic monuments are part of the historic old town that was added to the UNESCO property during the extension in 1994: Episcopal Palace, Royal Stables, and the Diocesan Fine Arts Museum.

Travel Tips

Historic Center of Cordoba

Want to visit the Historic Center of Cordoba? Take these travel tips before you go:

  • Why go? It is considered as one of the richest cultural gems in the world, not just in Spain. In particular, the historic center of Cordoba is the perfect example of how two different religious beliefs can co-exist.
  • To travel to Cordoba, you must take a flight via the Seville airport. There are buses that travel from the airport to a railway station wherein you must travel another 40 minutes to get to the historic center.
  • There are plenty of hotels and accommodations in the Jewish quarter that you can choose from during your trip to Cordoba. Some of these hotels are 18th-century palaces that feature Moorish architecture.
  • The historic quarter is made up of small streets and alleys, whitewashed courtyards and squares. Hence, tourists who visit are encouraged to walk to explore the historic town.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain.

Gary Arndt
Gary Arndt

Gary began traveling the world in 2007. His travels have taken him to over 200 countries and territories and 400 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

He is a 3x Lowell Thomas Award winner and a 3x North American Travel Photographer of the Year.