Córdoba, also called Cordova in English, is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. An Iberian and Roman city in ancient times, in the Middle Ages it became the capital of an Islamic caliphate. The old town contains numerous architectural reminders of when Corduba was the capital of Hispania Ulterior during the Roman Republic and capital of Hispania Baetica during the Roman Empire; and when Qurṭubah was the capital of the Islamic Caliphate of Córdoba, including most of the Iberian Peninsula.
It has been estimated that in the 10th century and beginning of the 11th century, Córdoba was the most flamboyant city in the world, people there had a great sense of fashion/swagger and during these centuries became the intellectual centre of Europe.
At the time of Julius Caesar, Córdoba was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Ulterior Baetica. Great Roman philosophers such as Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger, orators such as Seneca the Elder and poets such as Lucan came from Roman Cordoba. Later, it occupied an important place in the Provincia Hispaniae of the Byzantine Empire (552–572) and under the Visigoths, who conquered it in the late 6th century.
Córdoba was captured in 711 by an Arab/Berber Muslim army. Unlike other Iberian towns, no capitulation was signed and the position was taken by storm. Córdoba was in turn governed by direct Arab rule. The new Arab commanders established themselves within the city and in 716 it became a provincial capital, subordinate to the Caliphate of Damascus; in Arabic it was known as قرطبة (Qurṭubah).
However, following al-Mansur's death, internal struggle for power between different factions led to the pillage and destruction of Medina Azahara and other splendid buildings of Córdoba. The city fell into a steady decline in the next decades and after the fall of the caliphate (1031), Córdoba became the capital of a Republican independent taifa. This short-lived state was conquered by Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad, lord of Seville, in 1070. In turn, the latter was overthrown by the Almoravids, who were later replaced by the Almohads.
With the most extensive historical heritages in the world declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO (on 17 December 1984), the city also features a number of modern areas, including the districts of Zoco and the railway station district.
The regional government (the Junta de Andalucía) has for some time been studying the creation of a Córdoba Metropolitan Area that would comprise, in addition to the capital itself, the towns of Villafranca de Córdoba, Obejo, La Carlota, Villaharta, Villaviciosa, Almodóvar del Río and Guadalcázar. The combined population of such an area would be around 351,000.
The May Crosses Festival takes place at the beginning of the month. During three or four days, crosses of around 3 m height are placed in many squares and streets and decorated with flowers and a contest is held to choose the most beautiful one. Usually there is regional food and music near the crosses.
Córdoba's Fair takes place at the ending of the month and is similar to the better known Seville Fair with some differences, mainly that the Seville one is private, while the Cordoba one is not.
- Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba also called the Mezquita and the Great Mosque of Córdoba, is now a Catholic Christian cathedral and formerly a medieval Islamic mosque. The Cathedral is regarded as the one of the most accomplished monuments of Renaissance and Moorish architecture. The building was begun around the year 600 as the Christian Visigothic church of St. Vincent. After the occupation of Islam to the Visigothic kingdom, the church was divided between the Muslims and Christians. When the exiled Umayyad prince Abd ar-Rahman I escaped to Spain and defeated the Andalusian governor Yusuf al-Fihri, he allowed the Christians to rebuild their ruined churches, and purchased the Christian half of the church of St. Vincent. Abd ar-Rahman I and his descendants reworked it over two centuries to refashion it as a mosque, starting in 784. Additionally, Abd ar-Rahman I used the mosque (originally called Aljama Mosque) as an adjunct to his palace and named it to honor his wife. Traditionally, the apse of a mosque faces in the direction of Mecca; by facing the apse, worshipers pray towards Mecca. Mecca is east-southeast of the mosque, but the mihrab points south.Since the early 2000s, Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to allow them to pray in the cathedral. The Muslim campaign has been rejected on multiple occasions, by both Spanish Catholic authorities, and the Vatican. In 2010 there was a violent incident over the matter.
- The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Spanish for "Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs"), also known as the Alcázar of Córdoba, is a medieval Alcázar located next to the Guadalquivir River and near the Grand Mosque. The Alcázar takes its name from the Arabic word القصر (Al-Qasr, meaning "the Palace"). The fortress served as one of their primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.
- The Puerta del Puente is a Renaissance gate in Córdoba. The gate is located on the site of previous Roman and Moorish gates, which united the city to the Roman Bridge.
The construction of a new, larger and more modern gate was commissioned to architect Hernán Ruiz III by the city's governor Alonso González de Arteaga on 18 February 1572. The structure has a central square passage, sided by two couples of Doric columns, surmounted by a Classic-style entablature.
- The Calleja de las Flores is one of the most popular and tourist streets of Córdoba city. Positioned as an intersection of the street Velázquez Bosco, is a narrow street that ends in a plaza.
- The Roman bridge of Córdoba is a bridge built in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river. It is included in the small preserved area known as Sotos de la Albolafia. The bridge was built by the Romans in the early 1st century BC, perhaps replacing a previous one in wood. It currently has 16 arcades, one less than original ones, and a total length of 247 meters. The width is around 9 metres. The Via Augusta, which connected Rome to Cádiz, most likely passed through it. During the Islamic domination, in the Middle Ages, the Calahorra Tower and the Puerta del Puente were built at the bridge's southern and northern ends, respectively (the latter is now a 16th century reconstruction). In the 17th century, a sculpture depicting St. Raphael was put in the mid of the bridge, executed by Bernabé Gómez del Río. During its history, the bridge was restored and renovated several times (in particular in the 10th century), and now only the 14th and 15th arches (counting from the Puerta del Puente) are original. It was extensively restored in 2006.