|Cordoba Sightseeing Walk 1: the Mosque, Jewish Quarter and Alcazar|
This is the essential walk for sightseers and visitors to Cordoba who are anxious to see the major tourist sights quickly. It is also an itinerary which can be lengthened, savored and repeated-in fact, I've walked the same streets hundreds of times. You'll see evidence of Roman and Moorish civilizations, and of Cordoba's 3 religions, which lived together in relative harmony at the height of the Caliphate of Cordoba. You'll also be strolling through the heart of Cordoba's historic center, declared Universal Heritage in 1994.
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1. Our first sight is the Roman Bridge . The Guadalquivir River, once navigable up to this point, made Roman Corduba an important economic hub. We can't date it exactly, and there may have been a wooden pontoon structure spanning the river before the Romans built the stone one, but it was strategic in the wars between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and the later government of Hispania. The Moors rebuilt much of the bridge in the 8th century, after it fell into disrepair under the Visigoths.
2. Bridge Gate. Built in 1571 in honor of King Felipe II's visit to Cordoba. Replaced former Moorish gate on site of Roman gate.
Walk uphill from the Roman Bridge toward the SW corner of the Mosque and follow the west facade along Torrijos street.
3. Episcopal Palace and Museum
4. San Sebastian Hospital: Cordoba Conference Center
Enter the Orange Tree Courtyard through Deanes Gate on your right.
Cross to the north side of the courtyard to the ticket office, on the right of the belfry and the Pardon door.
Enter the Mosque through the Palm Door. Walk south to the Mihrab, then to the apse of the cathedral and finally exit by way of Almanzor's addition.
About the Mosque: The original mosque and the first two expansions make up about two-thirds of the width of the current building's expanse, or 11 naves extending from the west wall (to your right) up to the eastern limit of the cathedral's high altar (to your left) and extend successively southward towards the river to the Mihrab. The eastern third of the building is the most recent addition, built by Almanzor in 988. In the center of the Mosque is the 16th-century Cathedral.
6. The Original Mosque of Abd Al-Rahman I (786) is some 13 aisles of columns deep, with the southern limit of cathedral's gothic nave. Some columns have disappeared into chapel walls and a line of the cathedral's flying buttresses. The eastern limit of this section is easy to identify, in line with the high altar and two spaces between columns which were filled in with masonry and decorated with paintings, etc.
7. Abd Al-Rahman II's expansion (833) is the most altered by the construction of the cathedral in the 16 th century. It extends a further 9 aisles of columns to the south (3 aisles beyond the cathedral's nave and up to the line of flying buttresses extending to the east.
8. Al-Hakam II's expansion (964) and the Mihrab lies beyond the flying buttresses and the northern limit is marked by a nave 5 rows wide and 3 rows deep cleared of columns with raised ceilings, a rose window and Christian tombstones in the floor. This is the 14 th century cathedral. Just to the east is the fabulous Villaviciosa Chapel, followed by 2 enclosed chapels, including the Royal Chapel. At the back of the Mosque, on the south wall, is the richly decorated Mihrab, and to the left, the Cardinal's Chapel, now the Cathedral Museum .
9. Almanzor's Expansion (987) is the largest, but most poorly decorated, part of the mosque, extending it 8 aisles to the east and turning it from a rectangular building, deeper than it was wide, into a building with a nearly square floor plan. With its courtyard, the Mosque is 22,250 square meters in area, and it then boasted of some 850 columns.
10. The Cathedral was begun in 1523 and built during the remainder of the 16 th century, with Gothic structure, Renaissance vaulting and domes, and baroque choir stalls and pulpits (1750).
Exiting the Mosque and leaving the Orange Tree Courtyard through the eastern, Santa Catalina door, turn left up Magistral Gonzalez Frances street to the NE corner of the Mosque and turn left on Cardenal Herrero Street.
Take a short detour with an immediate right on Velasquez Bosco and then again into Callejita de las Flores .
Back on Cardenal Herrera Street , continue straight leaving the Pardon Door and Belfry on your left until you reach the NW corner of the Mosque. This is the probable location of one of the Jewish Quarter's medieval gates and the southeastern corner of the triangle-shaped neighborhood.
12. Jewish Quarter
Continue straight into Juderia Street past several souvenir shops and turn right on Deanes street . Then take an immediate left into Romero street . This street was most likely the eastern boundary to the Jewish quarter.
13. Cardinal Salazar Hospital
Continue past the University (the street becomes Almanzor street ) and turn left when you get to Fernandez Ruano. This is the northernmost point of the medieval Jewry.
14. Almodovar Gate: the best preserved of Cordoba's original city gates. Just outside used to be the Jewish cemetery.
15. City walls: Just outside Almodovar Gate is a good viewing point of the city walls, flanked by fountains and gardens.
Turn south on Judios street . The city wall just to your right formed another boundary to the district.
16. Synagogue(*), built by Simon Majeb in 1315. It is one of the three significant synagogues remaining in Spain and is largely unaltered (its Mudejar stucco work was covered and it was used as a rabies hospital, seat of the shoe-makers' guild and finally a 19th-century primary school). The buildings around it were probably used as public baths and a Talmudic school.
17. Souk: a medieval market with a distinctly Moorish air through a narrow passageway on the left.
18. Statue Maimonides: tourists seem to think that rubbing this great Jewish thinker's shoe gives good luck.
From Maimonides Square go south on Tomas Conde Street, leaving the Jewish Quarter and arriving to Campo Santo de los Martires Park.
19. Caliphate Baths. Briefly opened and then closed again in 2004. Once part of the Caliph's walled complex of palaces and government buildings stretching south to the present-day Alcazar and east to the Episcopal Palace.
Cross south to Alcazar
20. Mosaic Room
Exit Alcazar and turn right. Cross street and return to starting point via Amador de los Rios street .
23. Triumph of Saint Rafael column, dedicated to Cordoba's archangel protector.