World Heritage #0313 – Historic Centre of Córdoba

Last modified 27.03.2022 | Published 30.07.2012Southern Europe, Spain, World Heritage Sites

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The Historic Centre of Córdoba is amazing. Thanks to the Arabs sweeping across North Africa and taking control of large parts of the Iberian peninsula, humanity has been offered a most fantastic city to visit.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Official facts

  • Country: Spain
  • Date of Inscription: 1985
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 313:

“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 splendours 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.”

Here is quote also from the longer description of this site:

“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 Alcázar 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.”

My visit

I came to Córdoba on a tour of Andalusia in 2012. The city is full of culture. It stands today as a time-capsule of the important hot-pot it was like a thousand years ago. Here is an excerpt from my entry describing the Mezquita-Catedral:

“Spending two hundred years starting in 784 the Moors continuously expanded and enriched the complex. Entering the Mezquita is through one of the wonderful portals. We entered and stood inside the courtyard (Sahn) filled with palms and citrus trees.

The most prominent feature of the original mosque was the 1293 columns of different kinds of stone. When the Christians took over they tore down a large number of them and erected a cathedral in the centre. There are now 856 columns. They connect by arches painted in characteristic red and white colours. Today we might object to the idea of reconstructing such an architectural masterpiece, but on the other hand the Christian Reconquistadores might have done worse, as elsewhere in “liberated” Spain.

In any case, the cathedral inside the old mosque is an absolutely stunning beauty. There are a number of chapels around the edges of the building, in a mix of Christian Renaissance and Moorish style.

I loved this building.”

Read more about my visit.

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