Located on the Guadalquivir river, in the province of Andalucia, Córdoba was the capital of the Moorish Empire that ruled Spain from the 8th to the 15th centuries. At its height, in the 10th century, it was the largest city in Europe. Today its most famous landmarks include the Mezquita mosque and cathedral, the Alcázar of the Catholic Kings – a fortified palace with luxuriant gardens overlooking the river – and the Torre de la Calahorra, a medieval tower now containing a history museum.
But there is more to Córdoba than a succession of historical monuments. The old Jewish quarter, called the Judería, has narrow, cobblestone streets, which meander as much as possible to protect them from the intense heat of the summer sun, and picturesque, whitewashed houses with flower filled balconies and patios. Many of the patios are also planted with orange trees, and the residents compete for the best one, throwing their doors open to the public during the “Los Patios de Mayo” in May. The more modern parts of Córdoba, meanwhile, have broad, tree-lined boulevards and are plentifully supplied with excellent fusion restaurants, upscale boutiques and stylish clubs.