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A stroll back in time on Cordoba’s cobbled streets

Stepping through the large stone archways into Cordoba’s old town felt like walking into a completely different city, region or even country.

When I arrived at the very modern train station, this loud, bustling building could never have prepared me for what the Spanish city of Cordoba has to offer. Due to the location, I had to walk a fair distance to reach the touristic centre. My first view of this historically important Andalusian area was of busy roads, bland buildings, concrete pavements and very little sign of the ancient landmarks I was hoping to see.

The grey and dusty road soon lead me to an old but perfectly preserved wall with a large archway cut into it. On first glance through to the old town, I could see thin winding streets lined with what I assumed to be shops due to the central location. On closer inspection, it became clear that they were houses, closely packed together on lanes barely wide enough for a car to fit through.

Armed with my map, I found navigating the maze like streets was easier than anticipated. The obvious focal point, towering above the houses, bars, shops and hotels is the breath taking Mezquita. Setting the scene for the rest of the city, this Roman Catholic Cathedral and former Mosque showcases exquisite architecture, high towers and arches externally with a mystical design and atmosphere inside. Red and white striped arches held up by strong pillars in perfectly straight lines seem to go for miles into the distance like a dimly lit stone forest. Despite the basic shape of the hall, it was easy to get disorientated there.

After returning into the sunny but fresh environment of the pedestrianised street outside the Cathedral, this condensed touristic city leads me downhill toward the river. South East of the Mezquita, a Roman Bridge is introduced by the tall Puerte del Puente or bridge gate. I walked through the Puerte onto the long, wide Roman construction above the river Guadalquivir.

As I arrived to the other side, I was greeted by a small, round tower – the Calahorra, which also serves as the Museum of Three Cultures. Despite the size, the Calahorra tower is packed with models, information, paintings and pictures brilliantly narrated by the recordings remotely played into headsets. After being packed full of information on Cordoba’s history, layout, architecture and culture, I returned to the north side of the river.

As I walked through the thin winding streets of what is estimated to have been Europe’s largest city during the 10th Century, I noticed the bustling atmosphere was running into the night. In typical Spanish style, streets and restaurants bellowed out the lively sound of locals and visitors enjoying the mild evening in the beautiful surroundings.

I made my way North in hope of finding a suitable place to eat, occasionally stopping to see the fountain decorated streets. Stumbling across the Plaza de la Corredera I was taken by the immediate impact of the festival atmosphere. The pink and white coloured flats surround a large open square, scattered with seats from tapas bars and restaurants at all sides.

The faint sound of traditional Spanish music coming from one of the bars was almost drowned out by the sea of chatter, flowing across the courtyard. I walked into the centre and scoured the restaurants, searching for somewhere with empty seats. Once I settled on one and seated myself outside, I looked through the menu.

Andalusian food is fairly typical of the rest of Spain. My choice wasn’t the most adventurous – Patatas Bravas and Tortilla with a local beer for refreshment. Despite the range of food on offer, the tiring Andalusian heat made it difficult to eat a lot, so Tapas dishes were ideal.

During the evening, two street performers appeared in the middle of the Plaza, performing tricks including poi and fire blowing, whilst taking turns to stand on each other to add to the effect. The big bubble like flame balls added a quick moment of light to the area. Cheers rose up from the diners enjoying the food and entertainment of the dark evening as local residents in the flats on the top floors above restaurants and bars looked on from their balconies.

My journey back to the hostel took me through the residential zone, past the Roman bridge and up past the Mezquita. The Spanish sunshine had gone for the day and darkness covered the city, however, the mild temperature made it comfortable to walk home without a jacket.

After a long sleep, the Andalusian region had awoken and was busy in the warm but fresh climate. I made my way through the winding streets and through the archway in the city wall, leaving Cordoba’s old town and heading toward the train station, ending my short stay in this enchanting, historical city.

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