Eating Abroad Featured Spain

Córdoba – An Andalusian Gem

November 14, 2017

Right in the heart of Andalusia lies the city of Córdoba; full of mysterious lanes and architectural gems, this was once one of the biggest and most important cities in Western Europe. These days, it is often overshadowed by its glossier neighbours Seville and Granada but is still very much worth a visit. Throughout history, the city has always been viewed as the jewel in any crown due to its prime regional location and fertile surroundings. At one point in time, it was the capital of Roman Spain, after which it was taken over by the Arabs, before the Christians marched in… each leaving their mark and giving Córdoba an intricate and fascinating history.

The old town is compact and best traversed by foot to really immerse yourself into life within these city walls. As we always do when we arrive in a new city, a certain someone and I wandered out with the intention to get a feel for the city, see what we could see and most likely, get a little lost. When you’re somewhere like Córdoba, it pays to take a wrong turn here or there, just to see what’s round the corner… sometimes we found ourselves on a street so quiet, even our footsteps seemed like an intrusion, while other times we walked straight out into a main square lined with tourist-tat shops! Here’s how we spent our day in Córdoba…

Lunch at Mercado Victoria

A 19th century wrought iron pavilion which used to be a fairground pavilion for the city’s elite has now been transformed into Andalusia’s first gastro-market for the city’s food connoisseurs. Situated just outside of the old town, we actually stumbled upon Mercado Victoria quite by chance but it was a brilliant find and the perfect spot for a light lunch (or feast, depending on your day’s plans!). The market has around thirty food stalls dishing up everything from local favourites to foods from further afield. You can also buy fresh produce or dishes to take home, but I think the best way to experience the market is by being there!

When in markets like this, our approach is to graze and have small dishes from as many stalls as possible; we order, eat, walk around, then repeat. I thought the variety was great but as a lover of Spanish cuisine, we stuck to the more traditional offerings. We indulged in some elaborately stacked pintxos, a couple of grilled skewers, fried seafood, and a handful of anchovies wrapped in olives. A must-order when in town is the salmorejo, a cold tomato and bread soup topped with ham and cheese, which is a Córdoban speciality.

Explore the Magnificent Mesquita

This magnificent Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is a World Heritage site and undoubtedly what lures most visitors to Córdoba. Prior to our visit, I scoffed at the claims that this site is ‘one of a kind’… but now that I’ve seen it myself, I just have to agree. Upon entering, you will be greeted with the sight of over eight-hundred Roman columns and the most striking red and white striped arches. Although all identical, I found myself walking between them and mesmerised by how differently the space looked simply depending on where the sunlight struck it.

After the arches, I moved along to marvel at the intricate details of the mihrab. Each chamber was beautifully decorated, the ceiling was an impressive carving made from marble, and many areas were adorned with distinctive Byzantine gold mosaics. Then finally, I found my way to the cathedral at the centre of the whole site. While the styles are obviously different, both are equally breathtaking and bold. Like many of the other visitors, I found a spot on a pew and just spent the next ten minutes looking up, taking in as many of the details as possible.

Dinner at Casa Pepe de la Juderia

Casa Pepe de la Juderia is a bit of an institution in the Old Town, due to its long history and prime location in a well-worn street in the Jewish Quarter. The latter is what originally put me off, but as the restaurant I had planned on visiting (a more modern affair) was closed, we thought we’d give this one a chance. Once through the front door, we were welcomed with the most appetising aromas, the pleasant hum of happy diners, and the realisation that this was far more elegant and upmarket than the average taberna.

We shared a few types of croquettes and a perfectly tangy and fresh anchovy salad, before individually diving into our much heartier mains. The food at Casa Pepe de la Juderia has no room for fanfare, instead you should expect good, honest cooking with classic flavours and precise execution. I particularly liked my suckling pig which was every bit as juicy and succulent as you would hope from such a piece of meat. The service complemented the whole experience perfectly – sharp, efficient but still very friendly – and I would happily come back for seconds!

So Make A Move…

Our time in Córdoba was short, but most definitely sweet and if given the chance again I would spend more than just a day here. It was one of the stops on our Andalusian road trip which included Seville, Granada, Jerez and a drive through the Pueblo Blancos, incredible white villages which are built into the hills and caves. However, even if you are just visiting Seville or Granada, that is no reason not to squeeze in a trip to Córdoba too – it is roughly two hours drive from each of those cities and can easily be done as a day trip!

  • Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba – open from 10am – 6pm most days but it is best to consult their website as it changes throughout the year, entry tickets can be purchased from the booths in the Orange Tree Courtyard and cost €10/adults.
  • Mercado Victoria – Paseo de la Victoria, S/N, 14004 Córdoba, open from 10am daily.
  • Casa Pepe de la Juderia – Calle Romero, 1, 14003 Córdoba
  • Seville – find out more about what to see and where to eat in Seville on my guide to the city here.
  • Granada – find out more about how to eat tapas in Granada on my guide to the city here.

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  • Andalusia looks BEAUTIFUL! That church especially is so gorgeous – what attention to detail! I’ve never considered Andalusia as a travel destination before but I might pop it on my list now 🙂 xx

    • It’s such a stunning region, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it and can’t wait to return! The mesquita is quite special, not like any other church I’ve visited before in Europe!

  • I absolutely loved Córdoba – the Mesquita really was magical and your photos capture the depth of those arches really well 🙂 definitely a good place for a day trip, though I do feel I could have spent one more day there! And salmorejo is just so addictive – it’s all I wanted to eat in the hot Andalusian climate! xx

    Tamsin | A Certain Adventure

    • I could have definitely spent more time too but I’m so pleased that we got to visit the Mesquita – that was top of my list. Honestly didn’t think I could be keen on salmorejo but in that weather, it was a perfect light-ish but still filling (does that even make sense lol) lunch!

  • hilary

    Love this! We visited Granda, Seville, and Toledo three years ago, and loved them all. I now really regret the we didn’t have time for Cordoba, but we love Spain, so I’m definitely going there the next trip! Thank you for the reminder! #farawayfiles

    • I wish we had time to Toledo but unfortunately had to cut that out – next time hopefully as I definitely want to return… especially to Seville!

  • I know the Mezquita is Cordoba’s masterpiece but I would like to spend some time exploring the town. I enjoy so much markets like the one your described in here (there are ton of them in Madrid). I like to visit as many stalls a s possible. My husband would die to try the anchovy salad. #FarawayFiles

    • Exploring the random streets and just wandering the old town are some of my favourite things to do too – it’s nice to go at the local pace and soak up the atmosphere!

  • I am dying to visit the entire region of Andalusia and I know I will just love the architecture and food because it always looks so beautiful!! Pinned for later! #FarawayFiles

    • I think you would adore it… perhaps less colourful than your recent travels in Poland but it’s all very pretty still! 🙂

  • Clare Thomson

    We loved Seville but I’d really love to explore some of the lesser-known Spanish cities and towns and Cordoba looks magnificent, both for a foodie and a cultural trip. Fab post! #FarawayFiles

    • Definitely worth a visit Clare – a day or so is enough but the old town is wonderful!

  • You’re right – Cordoba doesn’t get the attention it deserves. But I remember really loving it when I lived in Spain during college. Thanks for taking me back. Your architectural photos are amazing. #farawayfiles

    • You’re welcome – still very jealous you used to live in Spain, really keen to spend more time in the country as I absolutely love the food and culture!

  • I totally agree – wish I’d had more than a day for Cordoba! Looks like you found some really yummy spots 🙂

  • So need to get back to Spain – would love to see this part. The culture, the architecture – that food! It all looks amazing! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

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