IN ASSOCIATION WITH BRITISH AIRWAYS

Moorish Delights: Cordoba

Part of a dazzling Islamic legacy

Cordoba once boasted 600 hammam or public bathhouses when it was the cultural metropolis of Europe, home of poets, philosophers, doctors and scientists. To experience a sliver of the sensual sophistication Cordoba once enjoyed, step inside the Arab baths recreated within an ancient Moorish house, on Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 51 (00 34 957 484 746;
www.hammamspain.com/cordoba).You enter an enchanted realm where pools of light glimmer through latticed wall and ceiling vents. Relax in a tepid bath surrounded by high arches and walls decorated by geometric Andalucian tiles. Advance through hotter pools in deepening twilight and take the occasional icy plunge in the stone tank.

The creators of this luxury were Omeyas, Muslims from Damascus who pushed west and created a breakaway kingdom in Cordoba between 756 and 1031. Apart from bathing, Cordoba's Omeyas ruled and prayed, and left magnificent monuments to both activities.

The 10th-century mosque or mezquita (00 34 957 470 512) in the heart of the city was long reckoned the finest in the Islamic world. Catholic monarchs who drove the Arabs from Spain in 1492 built a cathedral inside the mosque's main prayer hall to stamp their supremacy. Some say this ruined the austere symmetry of more than a thousand pillars, 55 of which were ripped out to make room for the cathedral. King Carlos V bitterly regretted authorising the work, and in 1523 reproached his clerics with: "You have destroyed something unique in the world to build something you could have put up anywhere."

Cordoba's other dazzling Islamic legacy is the palace-fortress of Medina Azahara on the outskirts of town, once a mini-kingdom housing tens of thousands. You can spend a day wandering the oyster-pink marble passages and salons linked by carved stucco arches, breathtaking despite their semi-ruined state.

In multicultural Cordoba lived the philosopher Maimonides, born in 1135 and considered by some the wisest Jew since Moses. His statue in the Plazuela de Tiberiades near the Juderia, the Jewish quarter, is the most elegant in the city. Maimonides sits, wearing desert robes and turban, a book resting in his lap. The toes of his tiptilted slippers are worn creamy smooth by the reverent touch of passers-by.

Then turn down Jews Street (Calle de los Judios) to Andalucia's only surviving 13th-century synagogue, or round the opposite corner into the square named after Maimonides, to the house where he once lived. It is now the site of the Bullfighting Museum, dedicated to the matador hero Manolete, who died in the ring in 1947. On show are the hide, head and tail of the bull that killed him, plus the cape he twirled as he fell.

Andalucia's other favourite animal, the horse, is honoured in la Plaza del Potro (Colt Square), with a pretty 16th-century statue of a prancing pony. The spot was immortalised by Cervantes, who lived in Cordoba as a child and mentions the medieval Colt Tavern in Don Quixote. Once the haunt of travellers and tricksters, the tavern, with its cobbled patio and upper gallery lined with a wooden handrail, is today a council-run cultural showcase.

And when it comes to whitewashed patios, Cordoba boasts some of Spain's finest, decked with flowers and cooled by fountains. Don't miss the one in el Callejon de las Flores (Flower Alley).

Arab baths open 10am-midnight every day; €18 (£13) for a bath only; €25 (£18) for a bath and massage.

Medina Azahara opens 10am-8.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday; Sundays and holidays 10am-2pm; closed Mondays. Free to EU citizens.

Mezquita (Great Mosque) open 10am-7pm daily - Sundays to 7pm; admission €8 (£5.70).

Synagogue open 9.30am-2pm and 3.30pm-5.30pm from Tuesday to Friday; Sunday 9.30am-1.30pm, admission free to EU citizens.

The Bullfighting Museum has temporarily closed for repairs.

The nearest airports to Cordoba are Malaga and Seville. British Airways, operated by GB Airways, flies to Malaga from London Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester and to Seville from London Gatwick. For more details visit www.ba.com

Elizabeth Nash's 'Seville, Cordoba and Granada: a Cultural and Literary History' is published by Signal Books

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
people
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits