Córdoba (, Spanish: [ˈkoɾðoβa]),[a] also spelled Cordova () in English, is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was a Roman settlement, taken over by the Visigoths, followed by the Muslim conquests in the eighth century and later becoming an imperial city under the Caliphate of Córdoba. The city served as the capital in exile of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Almohad and various other emirates. During these Muslim periods, Córdoba was transformed into a world leading center of education and learning, producing notable figures such as Averroes, Ibn Hazm, and Al-Zahrawi, and by the 10th century it had grown to be the second-largest city in Europe. It was conquered by the Kingdom of Castile through the Christian Reconquista in 1236.
Today, Córdoba is still home to many notable pieces of Moorish architecture such as The Mezquita, which was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and is now a Cathedral. The UNESCO status has since been expanded to encompass the whole historic centre of Córdoba. Much of this architecture, such as the Alcázar and the Roman bridge has been reworked or reconstructed by the city's successive inhabitants.
Córdoba has the highest summer temperatures in Spain and Europe, with average high temperatures around 37 °C (99 °F) in July and August.
The first traces of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 42,000 to 35,000 BC. Pre-urban settlements around the mouth of the Guadalquivir river are known to have existed from the 8th century BC. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy. The first historical mention of a settlement dates to the Carthaginian expansion across the Guadalquivir, when general Hamilcar Barca renamed it Kartuba, from Kart-Juba, meaning "the City of Juba," a Numidian commander who had died in a battle nearby. Córdoba was conquered by the Romans in 206 BC and named as "Corduba".
In 169 Roman consul M. Claudius Marcellus, grandson of Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who had governed both Further and Hither Spain (Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior, respectively), founded a Latin colony alongside the pre-existing Iberian settlement.[full citation needed] Between 143 and 141 BC the town was besieged by Viriatus. A Roman forum is known to have existed in the city in 113 BC. The famous Cordoba Treasure, with mixed local and Roman artistic traditions, was buried in the city at this time; it is now in the British Museum.
It became a colonia with the title Patricia, between 46 and 45 BC.[full citation needed] It was sacked by Caesar in 45 due to its Pompeian allegiance, and settled with veterans by Augustus. It became capital of Baetica and had a colonial and provincial forum and many temples, and it became the chief center of Roman intellectual life in Hispania Ulterior (Further Spain).
At the time of Julius Caesar, Córdoba was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Baetica. The great Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger, his father, the orator Seneca the Elder, and his nephew, the poet Lucan[full citation needed] came from Roman Cordoba,[full citation needed][full citation needed] and Seneca[who?] and Lucan succeeded earlier republican poets.
In the late Roman period, its bishop Hosius (Ossius) was the dominant figure of the western Church throughout the earlier 4th cent.[full citation needed] 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 the Umayyad army. Unlike other Iberian towns, no capitulation was signed and the position was taken by storm. Córdoba was in turn governed by direct Umayyad rule. The new Umayyad 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 (Qurṭuba).
Different areas were allocated for services in the Saint Vincent Church shared by Christians and Muslims, until construction of the Córdoba Mosque started on the same spot under Abd-ar-Rahman I. Abd al-Rahman allowed the Christians to rebuild their ruined churches and purchased the Christian half of the church of St Vincent. In May 766 Córdoba was chosen as the capital of the independent Umayyad emirate, later caliphate, of al-Andalus. By 800 the megacity of Cordoba supported over 200,000 residents, 0.1 per cent of the global population. During the apogee of the caliphate (1000 AD), Córdoba had a population of about 400,000 inhabitants,. In the 10th and 11th centuries Córdoba was one of the most advanced cities in the world, and a great cultural, political, financial and economic centre. The Great Mosque of Córdoba dates back to this time. After a change of rulers the situation changed quickly. The vizier al-Mansur–the unofficial ruler of al-Andalus from 976 to 1002—burned most of the books on philosophy to please the Moorish clergy; most of the others were sold off or perished in the civil strife not long after.
Córdoba had a prosperous economy, with manufactured goods including leather, metal work, glazed tiles and textiles, and agricultural produce including a range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and materials such as cotton, flax and silk. It was also famous as a centre of learning, home to over 80 libraries and institutions of learning, with knowledge of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, botany far exceeding the rest of Europe at the time.
In 1002 Al-Mansur was returning to Córdoba from an expedition in the area of Rioja when he died. His death was the beginning of the end of Córdoba. Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar, al-Mansur's older son, succeeded to his father’s authority, but he died in 1008, possibly assassinated. Sanchuelo, Abd al-Malik’s younger brother succeeded him. While Sanchuelo was away fighting Alfonso V of Leon, a revolution made Mohammed II al-Mahdi the Caliph. Sanchuelo sued for pardon but he was killed when he returned to Cardova. The slaves revolted against Mahdi, killed him in 1009, and replaced him with Hisham II in 1010. Hisham II kept a male harem and was forced out of office. In 1012 the Berbers "sacked Cardova." In 1016 the slaves captured Cardova and searched for Hisham II, but he had escaped to Asia. This event was followed by a fight for power until Hisham III, the last of the Umayyads, was routed from Córdoba in 1031.
During the process known as the Spanish Reconquista, Córdoba was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile on 29 June 1236, after a siege of several months. The city was divided into 14 colaciones, and numerous new church buildings were added. The centre of the mosque was converted into a large Catholic cathedral.
The city declined, especially after Renaissance times. In the 18th century it was reduced to just 20,000 inhabitants. The population and economy started to increase again only in the early 20th century.
The regional government (the Junta de Andalucía) has for some time[when?] 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 Plano de Córdoba was also known for its books and how they created it.
The city is in a depression of the valley of the Guadalquivir. In the north is the Sierra Morena, which defines the borders of the municipal area.
Córdoba has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). It has the highest summer average daily temperatures in Europe (with highs averaging 36.9 °C (98 °F) in July) and days with temperatures over 40 °C (104 °F) are common in the summer months. August's 24-hour average of 28.0 °C (82 °F) is also among one of the highest in Europe, despite relatively cool nightly temperatures.
Winters are mild, yet cooler than other low lying cities in southern Spain due to its interior location, wedged between the Sierra Morena and the Penibaetic System. Precipitation is concentrated in the coldest months; this is due to the Atlantic coastal influence. Precipitation is generated by storms from the west that occur most frequently from December to February. This Atlantic characteristic then gives way to a hot summer with significant drought more typical of Mediterranean climates. Annual rain surpasses 600 mm (24 in), although it is recognized to vary from year to year.
The registered maximum temperature at the Córdoba Airport, located at 6 kilometres (4 miles) from the city, was 46.9 °C (116.4 °F) on 13 July 2017. The lowest registered temperature was −8.2 °C (17.2 °F), on 28 January 2005.
Córdoba has the second largest Old town in Europe, the largest urban area in the world declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
The Roman Bridge, over the Guadalquivir River, links the area of Campo de la Verdad with Barrio de la Catedral. It was the only bridge of the city for twenty centuries, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-20th century. Built in the early 1st century BC, during the period of Roman rule in Córdoba, probably replacing a more primitive wooden one, it has a length of about 250 m and has 16 arches.
Other Roman remains include the Roman Temple, the Theatre, Mausoleum, the Colonial Forum, the Forum Adiectum, an amphitheater and the remains of the Palace of Emperor Maximian in the archaeological site of Cercadilla.
From 784- 786 AD, Abd al-Rahman I built the Mezquita, or Great Mosque, of Córdoba, in the Umayyad style of architecture with variations inspired by indigenous Roman and Christian Visigothic structures. Later caliphs extended the mosque with more domed bays, arches, intricate mosaics and a minaret, making it one of the four wonders of the medieval Islamic world. After the Christian reconquest of Andalucía, a cathedral was built in the heart of the mosque, however much of the original structure remains. It can be found in the Historic Centre of Córdoba, a recognized World Heritage Site.
Built in 930 AD, the mosque that this minaret adorned has been replaced by a church and the minaret re-purposed as a tower. Even so, it retains the characteristics of Islamic architecture in the region, including two ornamental arches.
Along the banks of the Guadalquivir are the Mills of the Guadalquivir, Moorish-era buildings that used the water flow to grind flour. They include the Albolafia, Alegría, Carbonell, Casillas, Enmedio, Lope García, Martos, Pápalo, San Antonio, San Lorenzo and San Rafael mills.
On the outskirts of the city lies the archaeological site of the city of Medina Azahara, which, together with the Alhambra in Granada, is one of the main examples of Spanish-Muslim architecture in Spain.
Near the stables are located, along the walls, the medieval Baths of the Umayyad Caliphs.
Near the cathedral is the old Jewish quarter, which consists of many irregular streets, such as Calleja de las Flores and Calleja del Pañuelo, and which is home to the Synagogue and the Sephardic House.
Surrounding the large Old town are the Roman walls: gates include the Puerta de Almodóvar, the Puerta de Sevilla and Puerta del Puente, which are the only three gates remaining from the original thirteen. Towers and fortresses include the Malmuerta Tower, Torre de Belén and the Puerta del Rincón's Tower.
In the south of the Old town and east of the great cathedral, in the Plaza del Potro, is the Posada del Potro, a row of inns mentioned in literary works including Don Quixote and La Feria de los Discretos, and which remained active until 1972. Both the plaza and the inn get their name from the fountain in the centre of the plaza, which represents a foal (potro). Not far from this plaza is the Arco del Portillo (a 14th-century arch). In the extreme southwest of the Old Town is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a former royal property and the seat of the Inquisition; adjacent to it are the Royal Stables, where Andalusian horses are bred. Palace buildings in the Old Town include the Palacio de Viana (14th century) and the Palacio de la Merced among others. Other sights include the Cuesta del Bailío (a staircase connecting the upper and lower part of the city).
The city is home to 12 Christian churches that were built (many as transformations of mosques) by Ferdinand III of Castile after the reconquest of the city in the 13th century. They were to act both as churches and as the administrative centres in the neighborhoods into which the city was divided in medieval times. Some of those that remain are:
Scattered throughout the city are ten statues of the Archangel Raphael, protector and custodian of the city. These are called the Triumphs of Saint Raphael, and are located in landmarks such as the Roman Bridge, the Puerta del Puente and the Plaza del Potro.
In the western part of the Historic Centre are the statue of Seneca (near the Puerta de Almodóvar, a gate from the time of Islamic rule, (the Statue of Averroes (next to the Puerta de la Luna), and Maimonides (in the plaza de Tiberiades). Further south, near the Puerta de Sevilla, are the sculpture to the poet Ibn Zaydún and the sculpture of the writer and poet Ibn Hazm and, inside the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the monument to the Catholic Monarchs and Christopher Columbus.
There are also several sculptures in plazas of the Old Town. In the central Plaza de las Tendillas is the equestrian statue of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, in the Plaza de Capuchinos is the Cristo de los Faroles, in Plaza de la Trinidad is the statue of Luis de Góngora, in the Plaza del Cardenal Salazar is the bust of Ahmad ibn Muhammad abu Yafar al-Gafiqi, in the Plaza de Capuchinas is the statue to the bishop Osio, in Plaza del Conde de Priego is the monument to Manolete and the Campo Santo de los Mártires is a statue to Al-Hakam II and the monument to the lovers.
In the Jardines de la Agricultura is the monument to the painter Julio Romero de Torres, a bust by sculptor Mateo Inurria, a bust of the poet Julio Aumente and the sculpture dedicated to the gardener Aniceto García Roldán, who was killed in the park. Further south, in the Gardens of the Duke of Rivas, is a statue of writer and poet Ángel de Saavedra, 3rd Duke of Rivas by sculptor Mariano Benlliure.
In the Guadalquivir river, near the San Rafael Bridge is the Island of the sculptures, an artificial island with a dozen stone sculptures executed during the International Sculpture Symposium. Up the river, near the Miraflores bridge, is the "Hombre Río", a sculpture of a swimmer looking to the sky and whose orientation varies depending on the current.
The Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Córdoba is a provincial museum located near the Guadalquivir River. The museum was officially opened in 1867 and shared space with the Museum of Fine Arts until 1920. In 1960, the museum was relocated to the Renaissance Palace of Páez de Castillo where it remains to present day. The Archaeological and Ethnological Museum has eight halls which contain pieces from the middle to late bronze age, to Roman culture, Visigothic art, and Islamic culture.
The Julio Romero de Torres Museum is located next to the Guadalquivir River and was opened in November 1931. The home of Julio Romero de Torres, has undergone many renovations and been turned into a museum and it has also been home to several other historical institutions such as the Archaeological Museum (1868-1917) and the Museum of Fine Arts. Many of the works include paintings and motifs done by Julio Romero de Torres himself.
The Museum of Fine Arts is located next to the Julio Romero de Torres Museum which it shares a courtyard with. The building originally was for the old Hospital for Charity but after that the building went under many renovations and renewals to become the renaissance style building it is today. The Museum of Fine Arts contains many works from the baroque period, medieval renaissance art, work from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, drawings, mannerist art and other unique works.
Tourism is especially intense in Córdoba during May as this month hosts three of the most important annual festivals in the city.
Las Cruces de Mayo (The May Crosses Festival). This festival takes place at the beginning of the month. During three or four days, crosses of around 3m 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.
Los Patios de Córdoba (The Patios Festival). This festival is celebrated during the second and third week of the month. Many houses of the historic center open their private patios to the public and compete in a contest. Both the architectonic value and the floral decorations are taken into consideration to choose the winners. It is usually very difficult and expensive to find accommodation in the city during the festival.
La Feria de Córdoba (Córdoba's Fair). This festival takes place at the end of the month and is similar to the better known Sevilla Fair with some differences, mainly that the Sevilla Fair has majority private casetas (tents run by local businesses), while the Córdoba Fair has majority public ones.
The City Council of Córdoba is divided into different areas: the Presidency; Human Resources, Management, Tax and Public Administration; City Planning, Infraestructure, and Environment; Social; and Development. The Council holds regular plenary sessions once a month, but can hold extraordinary plenary session to discuss issues and problems affecting the city.
The Governing Board, chaired by the mayor, consists of four IU councillors, three of PSOE, and three non-elected members. The municipal council consists of 29 members: 11 of PP, 7 of PSOE, 4 of IU, 4 of Ganemos Córdoba, 2 of Ciudadanos and 1 of Unión Cordobesa.
As of July 2008, the city is divided into 10 administrative districts, coordinated by the Municipal district boards, which in turn are subdivided into neighbourhoods:
Córdoba's main sports team is its association football team, Córdoba CF, which plays in the Spanish Segunda División B following a brief one-season tenure in La Liga during the 2014-15 season. Home matches are played at the Estadio Nuevo Arcángel, which has 20,989 seats.
Córdoba also has a professional futsal team, Córdoba Patrimonio de la Humanidad, which plays in the Primera División de Futsal. The local youth basketball club, CD Cordobasket, had a professional team which played in the Liga EBA for three seasons before going on hiatus in August 2019. The futsal team plays the majority of its home games at the 3,500 seat Palacio Municipal de Deportes Vista Alegre.
Córdoba railway station is connected by high speed trains to the following Spanish cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Málaga and Zaragoza. More than 20 trains per day connect the downtown area, in 54 minutes, with Málaga María Zambrano station, which provides interchange capability to destinations along the Costa del Sol, including Málaga Airport.
Córdoba has an airport, although there are no airlines operating commercial flights on it. The closest airports to the city are Seville Airport (110 km as the crow flies), Granada Airport (118 km) and Málaga Airport (136 km).
The city is also well connected by highways with the rest of the country and Portugal.