The cathedral in Córdoba (Córdoba)
From where can I plan this trip? It makes the most sense to plan this trip when you are already in Córdoba, but it is something you can easily come to see just for the day from nearby cities such as Granada, Málaga, Sevilla, or Jaén.
Pro-tip: Depending on the time of year, the city will be packed and you might want to consider the opening hours of the Cathedral into your plans.
What is it? The Cathedral in Córdoba is actually a two-for-one cathedral-mosque (they even call it the mezquita or mosque of Córdoba interchangeably with cathedral). While most cathedrals in southern Spain were once mosques, in Córdoba, instead of slowly destroying the mosque, they have built their church right inside it. This means that you can see most of the mosque that was extremely important during Al-Andalus converted into a Catholic church, something that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
Note: The mosque has been heavily restored so what you are seeing is not the ‘same’ as what existed during Al-Andalus, but it is still cool!
How should I prepare ahead of time? The Cathedral-mosque is something that you can see in just a couple of hours, but the history behind the building itself is really amazing as its construction spans the lifetime of multiple Arab and Catholic leaders. Therefore, I would highly recommend doing a little bit of research about the city and the importance Córdoba has held in Spain since the 700s when the Moors first arrived to the Iberian peninsula.
In addition, I would suggest that you take a tour with a local guide! For this kind of monument, there are many tour groups available and you might think it is something that is a total tourist trap. However, with the centuries of history tied to the structure, I think it is worth the investment to learn a little bit more about the cathedral-mosque. If you do the tour in Spanish, you can call it a Spanish class as well. 😉 And, the good thing about the tours, if you book in advance, you don’t have to worry about waiting in line for a ticket.
If you are not planning to do a tour, you can buy tickets on the day of your visit at the information point. You can see more information on the official website but, from what I understand, it is quite easy to get tickets in the off-season and less easy when the city is full from April/May to October/November.
Pro-tip: There are many tours you can book before-hand and others you can book when you get there. I went in the off-season so it was quite easy to find what we were looking for—someone with an art-history background to lead us around. However, from what they told us, doing the tourist season it is more difficult to get a spot.
How to get there? The cathedral-mosque is located right in the heart of the city. If you are coming by car, I would recommend parking on the outskirts of town (the city itself is for resident-driving only) and wandering in. If you are not driving, Córdoba also has a bus and train station that are well-connected to other places around Spain. These stations are located about 20 minutes walking or a short bus ride away from the city center and cathedral. Finally, as you have probably noticed in Spain, Bla Bla Car is always a good option for moving around the country.
Recommended time of year to visit? I visited Córdoba in January and everyone told me just how lucky I was that it wasn’t during the tourist season because 1.) there are a lot of people in the city and 2.) it gets really hot in Córdoba. At the same time, our amazing guide—whose name and company I cannot remember, sorry!—suggested coming at the beginning of April as it would be before the crowds and the heat but they would be working on their patios andaluzas or the beautiful interior terraces and balconies that they decorate all around the city.