Monday, 28 September 2015


Many tales were told of Córdoba when I found myself in the north before departure down south. This was said to be a city of great historical significance, a once powerful stronghold of the mighty Arabic empire stretching into Europe via southern Spain. 'Al-Andalus' being the name Moor invaders gave to the region which then in turn became known as 'Andalusia' upon Christian regain after 'la reconquista'. The latter was a great military campaign led by Christian fighters from the north during the early Middle Ages. Córdoba was one such reconquered city rich in Arabic or rather Islamic culture. To this day it is a popular destination point for Islamic tourists who come to see sights such as the truly inspiring 'Meskita'.
'Las Córdovesas' or the women of Córdoba are said to be the most beautiful in all of Spain. Very true. Well, I haven't seen enough of España at all, yet it would indeed be a challenge to find another part of the country with such a remarkable concentration of overtly attractive females in one place. I was also warned of the notoriously fierce heat of Córdoba during the summer, the time in which I would arrive. Some told me of cats dying in the street due to heat stroke. For me however, I love months of end of searing heat and never ending sunlight. There is no better weather than that of which exists in Córdoba or rather all of Andalusia in fact.
The city itself, took me immediately. It is a fascinating place, with such beauty in its architecture and streets that Córdoba cannot be compared to anywhere else apart from its neighbouring metropolises such as Sevilla or perhaps Granada - the latter I was very unlucky not to visit. What I mean is, they are unique - these 'Cuidades'. It was for example 'La Júderia' or 'Jewish quarter' of Córdoba that I found the most enchanting. With its narrow, winding alleys that lead towards the grand Mosque of which is 'La Meskita'. The site is famous though for being converted by the Christians into a cathedral. Even today Muslim visitors may not pray inside the confines of the mighty Meskita. The streets are filled here with tourists hailing from all over, many intriguing little shops are interwoven throughout the small, traditionally cobbled alleyways. Hanging plants are everywhere, with statues here and there of Arabic philosophers, Christian soldiers and historical persons important to the city in general. The restaurants and bars functioning more or less solely for the tourists are of the finest sort, clean and well attained with delicious menus specialising always in Andalus cuisine. Córdoba is certainly a favourite city of mine - no doubt.
A Roman bridge or 'Puente Romano' lies behind the Meskita thus connecting the two sides of the city over the Guadalquivir river, a vast flowing rio that stretches if I am correct from outside of Córdoba over to outside of Sevilla. If you head away from the Jewish quarter you are most likely to come across the centre of the city. There is a large square, in typical Hispanic fashion. Here stands a statue of 'El Gran Capitan' or 'the great captain'. A famous and celebrated general who achieved his military fame during the 14th century; he was in fact from Montilla where I was living. The Spanish army still uses some of his battle tactics and formations! A master in guerrilla warfare, the great captain became well known for his daring ambushes against the Moors. Back in Montilla, there is a statue of him in the town park as well. Many a good eating or drinking point can be found though at Córdoba near the centre. Very cheap too, some of the places there.
The only sore point or obvious bad element that I found with Córdoba are its non native Romani Gypsy population. Of course needless to say not all the Gypsy people's to be encountered there are of a bad sort. However, in my opinion and indeed that of the Andalusians from this part of the province - they are to be evaded at all times. If those that loiter the streets can scam one out of money it will be done. As simple as that. Watch out for the women with leaves, they thrust the small plants into  passing tourists' hands so as to read their futures via the palm. If that leaf enters your hand they will in groups of five or six demand payment for their services! It is truly unimaginable the nerve some of them have. A coach service takes these Gypsies directly from Romania to Córdoba - I can't imagine why, this makes it all the more straightforward for them to migrate. Sadly though they don't come with the best intentions. Not all, but many it would appear. After all, there are no words for a mother who uses her dead baby's corpse for days on end after it has died to continue her begging. These stories have been reported in Córdoba. Some Romani women sit out in the street with their motionless, malnourished and heat fatigued children so as to appeal to people's hearts, demanding that passers by give money for 'food and water'. Yet those children have been discovered dead before, with the mothers knowing full well what they were doing.
Córdoba is a destination that should definitely be visited for those with a passion for travelling within Spain, the Iberian Peninsula or even the Mediterranean as a whole. With excellent transport links, it is easily accessible. For instance, the train station is located opposite the bus station. From the former one can connect with all other cities in Spain from Madrid to Bilbao. The buses take you throughout the Córdoba region to all towns and villages. I have barely touched on this Andalusian city, as mentioned a favourite of mine - worldwide even. In fact, I might recommend this southern gem more so than I would Barcelona per say, as it has that smaller, less discovered feeling. Especially so when sat in a 'tranquilo' tapas bar within some hidden back street accompanied by the locals speaking in their thick and fast 'Andalus'. This being considered something quite separate to Spanish!

Ben Anson,
Reminiscing from the UK, September 2015.

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