This city in Spain is the only city in the world with four World Heritage monuments

by Lorraine Williamson
La Mezquita, one of four World Heritage sites in Cordoba

Andalucia is one of the most beautiful regions of Spain, according to National Geographic. It is therefore no coincidence that the magazine recently wrote an article about the beautiful Cordoba, the only city in the world with no fewer than four World Heritage monuments.

The magazine has been praising this city in Spain for years. Cordoba is bustling with life, has excellent gastronomy, streets full of flowers and beautiful places to discover. Nevertheless, four “must-sees” are highlighted, which have also been designated World Heritage by UNESCO. 

The Cathedral La Mezquita 

La Mezquita is Spanish for mosque and is therefore known as the mosque-cathedral that can be found in the historic centre of Cordoba. Once a Visigothic basilica, it was converted into a mosque by the Moors after the conquest of Cordoba in 711. This mosque then became the second largest mosque in the world, after Mecca. After the Christian Reconquest, the Mezquita was used as the cathedral of the Diocese of Cordoba. In 1984, UNESCO recognised this magnificent building as one of the most beautiful in the world. Due to its rich history, the current cathedral is a mix of the Islamic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. 

The historic centre around the mosque-cathedral La Mezquita 

Cordoba once started as a simple hamlet, but that changed when the Romans conquered the place in 206 BC. As a result, Cordoba’s influence grew. The city only really gained historical fame after the conquest of the Moors in the eighth century. Not only the Mezquita is an example of this, the houses around the cathedral are also of Roman origin with a typical Andalucian design. The Roman bridge with sixteen arches that spans the Guadalquivir is also one of the city’s characteristic monuments. 

In 1994, the historic centre was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and walking through the streets of the centre is a walk through the rich history of the city. It reflects thousands of years of occupation by different cultural groups such as the Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, Jews and Christians. 

Colorful ‘Fiesta de los Patios’ 

If you like flowers and colourfully decorated streets, you have to be there during the Fiesta de los Patios in Cordoba. In the early spring, residents of the Moorish city compete with each other for the most beautifully decorated patio (courtyard). In 2012, this phenomenon was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This year the festival will take place from 2 to 14 May. 

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Also read: Fiestas, Ferias and Celebrations in Spain 2023

It is not only during this period that the beautiful patios can be admired. If you don’t like crowds, you can admire these colorful courtyards almost all year round. Among the most beautiful places are the Alcázar Viejo, between the Alcázar and the parish church of San Basilio, and Palacio de Viana. 

Caliphate city of Medina Azahara 

The jewel of Al-Andalus is called Medina Azahara. The Medina Azahara are the ruins of a large walled city west of present-day Cordoba. Despite its rich history, this place is still somewhat unknown, but certainly unmissable. It is located six kilometres from the city and is well worth a visit. This building was built in 936 by the ruler of the caliphate of Cordoba Abderramán III. At the foot of the Sierra Morena, this city palace was a symbol of power of the Umayyad dynasty. 

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In 1010, the Medina Azahara was captured and destroyed as a result of the civil war then underway. On the basis of translations from Arabic, the location could be determined in 1843 and excavations began. Excavation continued at wide intervals, and by 2020 only 10% of an area of 112 hectares had been uncovered. The gate of the city also came out from under the rubble. Since 2018, this relic has also been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

Related post: Fun facts you didn’t know about Córdoba’s patios

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