1) Watch the world go by
On a sunny day, La Plaza de La Corredera is the perfect place to relax with a drink and some tapas. This 17th-century square has always been popular with locals, from the days when it was used to host bullfights and other public spectacles, and although the cafés and restaurants here are not at all glamorous, they are always bustling, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to observe the cordobeses in their natural habitat. Plus the square is next to El Mercado de La Corredera, an authentic local food market selling lovely fresh produce.
2) Indulge and unwind
It’s impossible to visit Córdoba and not be aware of the city’s Moorish past. That history seems closer than ever at Los Baños Árabes, the ancient baths where you can still enjoy a relaxing dip and traditional Arabian massage.
3) Pick up a souvenir
Located between the Mezquita and the Synagogue, El Zoco Municipal is a former Arabian souk which is now home to an interesting collection of artisan workshops and stores. The building alone is worth seeing, with its two-storey colonnaded façade and pretty Moorish courtyard, and the shops are sure to have something to tempt you. Look out for items made from Cordovan leather – first produced in the 8th century, this prized material is renowned for its durability and distinctive red colouring, and for the intricate designs embossed on its surface.
4) Refuel in style
I have only visited El Mercado Victoria during the daytime, but this trendy food court is also open in the evenings, when it’s definitely one of the places to be seen in the city. Still, if you’re not worried about raising your profile among the cordobeses, then a daytime visit is perfect for enjoying a relaxed breakfast or a mid-afternoon coffee and cake.
5) Visit Cervantes’ favourite inn
I only recently discovered La Posada del Potro, a medieval inn with a long and fascinating history. It was once a favourite of the writer Cervantes, who spent part of his childhood in Córdoba and was impressed enough by the inn to mention it in his masterpiece, Don Quixote. Today it houses the Centro Flamenco Fosforito, a centre for the study of flamenco. The Posada lies on the southern side of La Plaza del Potro, a long, rectangular ‘square’ named after the 16th-century fountain in its centre, which features a small colt – a nod to the days when an equestrian market was held here.
6) Try a local speciality
There’s plenty to choose from! Rabo de toro (oxtail stew) is one of the most typical dishes, and it’s even used as a filling in croquetas. Salmorejo (a rich purée made from tomatoes, bread, garlic and oil) originates from Córdoba and the versions you’ll find here are the best in the country. I also recommend sampling flamenquín (a rolled breaded cutlet of pork with jamón), berengenas a la miel (fried aubergines with honey) and a pastel cordobés (delicate puff pastry containing candied pumpkin and coated with sugar, cinnamon and almonds).
7) Visit the Alcázar
It may not be as well-known as the Alhambra in Granada or Seville’s royal palace, but the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is still an intriguing building. Built across the 13th and 14th centuries, it provided the location for the very first meeting between the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, and the explorer, Christopher Columbus. I love wandering around the gardens here – they are full of fountains, flowers and orange trees, and they smell wonderful!