Córdoba Visión, Av. Doctor Marañón 1 (tel. 95-776-02-41), conducts the best English-language walking tours. These 3 1/2-hour-long guided tours are a great introduction to what can be a confusing maze of a city, with its treasures often hidden down narrow alleyways. Costing 30€ ($48) per person, tours are conducted Tuesday to Saturday at 10:30am.
Among Córdoba's many sights is the Puente Romano (Roman bridge), dating from the time of Augustus and crossing the Guadalquivir River about 1 block south of the Mezquita. It's hardly Roman anymore because not one of its 16 supporting arches is original. The sculptor Bernabé Gómez del Río erected a statue of St. Raphael in the middle of the bridge in 1651.
Plaza de Toros, on Gran Vía del Parque, stages its major bullfights in May, although fights are also presented at other times of the year. Watch for local announcements. Most hotels will arrange tickets for you, ranging in price (in general) from 25€ to 115€ ($40-$184). Call tel. 95-723-25-07 for information.
Juderia (Jewish Quarter)
North and west of the Mezquita is one of the most intriguing medieval ghettos remaining in Europe. Two of the world's greatest thinkers, the Jewish philosopher Maimónides and the Arab philosopher and mathematician Averroès, once called the Judería home.
No longer Jewish or even Arab, the neighborhood has been restored and makes for one of the most fascinating strolls in Andalusia. (Don't forget to bring along a good pair of walking shoes.) The only physical evidence left of its former Jewish population is the synagogue. You can spend at least 2 hours here wandering about -- and be prepared to get lost. Many upper-middle-class Cordobeses now occupy these old whitewashed houses and have restored them. You can enter the area through the Puerta de Almódovar, at the western frontier.
The Judería reached the zenith of its prosperity under the Moorish occupation (believe it or not), especially during the Caliphate (929-1031). A great Talmudic school was founded here in an era of tolerance.
If there is one street you should seek out, it's Calleja de las Flores, "little street of flowers." Actually, it's little more than an alleyway off Calle Victor Bosco and Calle Blanco Belmonte. Somehow the wrought-iron grilles, potted flowers, and window boxes filled with geraniums appear more adorable here than elsewhere. Certainly the patios of the various houses deserve some prize, and it's perfectly acceptable to walk along gazing into the courtyards. The citizens of Córdoba take pride in showing off their patios as part of the city's tradition.
The Judería is also filled with delightful little squares that you'll stumble into after wandering down a dark alleyway into the bright sunshine of Andalusia.
Reviving Moorish Customs: Baños Arabes -- A popular Moorish custom survives at Hammam Arabic Baths (Baños Arabes), Corregidor Luís de la Cerda 51 (tel. 95-748-47-46; www.hammamspain.com/cordoba), which is next to the Mezquita. Taking the baths here is (probably) as close as you'll come to experiencing life as the ancient sultans lived it. You need to bring a swimsuit and you cannot wear shoes or sandals inside. Every bath lasts 1 1/2 hours and includes a massage and Moroccan tea for 31€ ($50). Sometimes belly dancers perform. Hours are daily from 10am to 10pm; make a reservation and be sure to show up on time.
A Stately Pleasure Dome: The Moorish Versailles -- The Conjunto Arqueológico Madinat Al-Zahra, a kind of Moorish Versailles just outside Córdoba, was constructed in the 10th century by the first caliph of al-Andalús, Abd ar-Rahman III. Thousands of workers and animals slaved to build this mammoth pleasure palace, said to have contained 300 baths and 400 houses. The Berbers sacked the place in 1013.
Over the years the site has been plundered for building materials. Some of these, it's said, went to build the Alcázar in Seville. The Royal House, today a rendezvous point for the ministers, has been reconstructed. The principal salon remains in fragments, so you have to imagine it in its majesty. Just beyond the Royal House are the ruins of a mosque constructed to face Mecca.
It's at Carretera Palma de Río Km 8 (tel. 95-735-55-06; www.museosdeandalucia.es). Admission is 1.50€ ($2.40). Hours are from May 1 to September 15, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 8:30pm, Sunday 10am to 2pm; September 16 to April 30, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6:30pm, Sunday 10am to 2pm. Buses leave from Paseo de la Rivera and Avenida de la Victoria (tel. 90-220-17-74).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.