Photos from our travels around the Andalucía region of southern Spain, visiting the towns and cities of Córdoba, Sevilla, Ronda, Granada and Málaga. Our first stop, a city full of Roman, Moorish, Jewish and Christian influences from its past, Córdoba.

Our short flight from the UK landed at Málaga airport around lunchtime. After passing through baggage reclaim and customs, we headed out on the short walk to the adjacent Málaga Aeropuerto station on the Cercanías line. Tickets into Málaga cost just a couple of Euros each from a ticket machine, and the regular service feeding the neighbouring resort towns only takes a few minutes to reach the main station, Málaga María Zambrano.

Málaga María Zambrano Station
Málaga María Zambrano Station

We had allowed for an hour or so connection time here before our onward train to Córdoba. The line between Málaga and Córdoba is a part of the high-speed network operated by Renfe, Spain’s national railway company, and uses AVE trains capable of speeds up to 310 kmh (193mph). AVE or ‘Alta Velocidad Española’ translates to ‘Spanish High Speed’ but is also a play on the word ‘ave’ meaning ‘bird’.

The in-coach display on the AVE train hits 290kph (180mph)
The in-coach display on the AVE train hits 290kph (180mph)

From Málaga to Córdoba, there were actually two AVE trains coupled together. At Córdoba, the trains uncoupled allowing one to proceed west to the regional capital Sevilla and the other to head north towards Barcelona.

AVE trains at Málaga
AVE trains at Málaga

Our journey to Córdoba took about an hour, and we were soon checking into our hotel about ten minutes walk away from the station, the Hotel Córdoba Centre. A pleasant and functional modern hotel, the Córdoba Centre is about a mile (or twenty minutes) walk away from the main tourist attractions near to the River Guadalquivir. Having researched in advance on the Córdoba Tourism website, we had already decided to head out towards the Museo Arqueológico which was open until 9pm. On the way, we passed a couple of minor landmarks, the Tendillas Fountains and Ayuntamiento Roman Temple.

Roman Temple at the Ayuntamiento, Córdoba
Roman Temple at the Ayuntamiento, Córdoba

The museum, rather surprisingly, is free admission. Inside, there are exhibits from Palaeolithic through to Roman times on the ground and first floors, and perhaps the most striking exhibit of all, the excavated remains of an entire roman theatre in the basement level.

Museo Arqueológico in Córdoba
Museo Arqueológico in Córdoba

After an interesting visit to the museum, we walked the remaining few minutes to reach the river, just in time to see the sun setting from the Puente Romano or Roman Bridge. It’s a medieval bridge built on original roman foundations, and on the opposite bank is the Calahorra Tower with a local history museum inside. In the centre of the bridge is a statue of the Archangel Raphael, who is reputed to have saved the city from the plague during the middle ages.

Mezquita Catédral and Rafael from the Puente Romano
Mezquita Catédral and Rafael from the Puente Romano

Finally, after an exhausting day of travelling, and not really eating much since our meal on the flight, we stopped off at the Lateral Bar on the walk back to the hotel, where we tried a pincho sampler plate and some of the local beer.

Booking two hotel nights guaranteed us a full day of sightseeing the next day, and we had already booked tickets in advance online for perhaps the most famous attraction in Córdoba, La Mezquita mosque with its forest of columns and arches, and rather bizarrely a huge cathedral built in its midst. Our combined entry tickets from the official website were 13€ each, and included timed entrances to both the belltower and the mezquita.

Belltower and the Patio of the Oranges
Belltower and the Patio of the Oranges

We arrived in good time for our 9.30am entrance to the belltower, so we had the opportunity to wander around the Patio of the Oranges beforehand. Orange trees feature heavily around Andalucía, but not primarily for their fruit which is rather bitter. Originally, they were grown for the fragrance of their flowers, and they frequently appear in courtyards like this one used for ritual bathing before entering a mosque. Our climb to the top of the belltower gave us some magnificent views  of the surrounding area.

Rooftop view of the Mezquita Cathedral from the top of the Belltower
Rooftop view of the Mezquita Cathedral from the top of the Belltower

Our entrance ticket for the Mezquita was timed for 10.30am. La Mezquita is a must-see destination in Spain, and we were not disappointed. Original Moorish architecture, the later Cathedral built at its centre, and also a small museum in the north east corner showing some earlier Roman finds from below the site.

Inside La Mezquita, Córdoba
Inside La Mezquita, Córdoba

After visiting the Mezquita we explored the surrounding narrow streets of Judería, the old Jewish quarter, with all of its souvenir shops, bars and cafes. Then we moved on to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (fortified palace of the Christian Kings). An interesting fort complex to explore, including the Baños Árabes (Arabic baths), the beautiful gardens with water features in a Moorish style, and some magnificent Roman mosaic floor patterns unearthed during construction works at the nearby Plaza de la Corredera.

Gardens at the Real Alcázar, Córdoba
Gardens at the Real Alcázar, Córdoba

Hungry after all of our exploring, we stopped off for lunch at the Mis Abuelos Taverna on the Plaza de la Trinidad. I tried ‘flamenquines’ (giant battered sausages of rolled pork and ham) and my wife had ‘pulpos fritos’ (deep fried baby octopus).

Córdoba is also famous for its patios, those cool inner courtyards of houses, beautifully decorated with flowers and often water features. We visited the Palazzo de Viana, a renaissance palace with 12 patios to explore.

Courtyard Patio at the Palacio de Viana
Courtyard Patio at the Palacio de Viana

Still full from our late lunch, in the evening we settled for a quick meal in our hotel room with a takeaway pizza and a very pleasant 1.99€ bottle of tempranillo from a nearby shop. In the morning, our next destination would be the regional capital Sevilla.