Commissioned in 1328 by Alfonso XI, the Alcázar of the Christian Kings is a fine example of military architecture. Fernando and Isabel governed Spain from this fortress on the river as they prepared to re-conquer Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain. Columbus journeyed here to fill Isabel’s ears with his plans for discovery. A statue commemorates Columbus’s audience and the rulers’ agreement to underwrite his exploratory voyage of 1492.

Two blocks west of La Mezquita, the Alcázar is notable for powerful walls and a trio of towers: the Tower of the Lions, the Tower of Allegiance, and the Tower of the River. While not as inspiring as La Mezquita, the Alcázar was the backdrop to a number of important historical events. The regional branch of the Spanish Inquisition was based here from 1490 until 1821, and Franco later turned the fortress into a prison. But the troubled past is behind it now. Some of the larger halls display 3rd- and 4th-century a.d. Roman mosaics unearthed in Córdoba, while the formal 18th-century gardens hold ever-changing flower beds, long lines of sculpted cypresses, and fragrant orange trees.

There is a sound and light spectacle on Mondays, when the Alcázar is otherwise closed, and on Saturday afternoons from 4:30 to 8pm.