The capital city of Córdoba is in the centre of the province, placed on both sides of the Guadalquivir river and scenery of three cultures: arab, jewish and christian.
Córdoba, a millenial city, has the second most historic town of Europe, the biggest urban area declared World Heritage by UNESCO. It’s precisely in it where most of the historic buildings of the city crowd, enhancing the most important and symbolic building of the city, the Cordoba mosque and now a days cathedral, next to the magnificent roman bridge, which form the most popular facet of the city.
The building of the mosque started at the time when Abd-al-Rahman constitutes Córdoba as the capital of Al-Andalus, in the year 785. One of its major characteristics is, unlike the majority of mosques, that the gibla wall isn’t orientated towards The Mecca, but 51 degrees South, which disables it for a possible pray or muslim salat, one of the five Islam’s pillars.
Close to the mosque-cathedral is located the ancient Jewry which consists of multiple irregular streets, such as Calleja de las Flores and Calleja del Pañuelo, in which the synagogue and the Sefarad house can be visited. On the South East end of the ancient town is located the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Christian king’s fortress), old accommodation of the kings and the Inquisition, and adjacent to it are the royal stables, where the Andalusian horse was breed. Next to the stables and the wall, are the ancient caliphal baths. On the South of the ancient town and East of the mosque, at the Plaza del Potro (colt square), is the Posada del Potro (colt inn) mentioned in literal work such as Don Quijote and La Feria de los Discretos. Both inn and square get their name from the fountain placed in the centre of the square, which represents a little colt. Not far away from this square is the Arco del Potrillo (colt arc).
From the roman times, apart from the bridge and the mosque, there’s also the roman theatre, the roman mausoleum, the colonial forum, the adiectum forum, the amphitheatre and emperor Maximiano Hercúleo’s palace remains in the Cercadilla archeological site.
Aproximately five kilometers away from the capital, it’s possible to visit the Medina Azahara (or Madinat a.Zahra) remains, the palacial city lift by order of the caliph Abd al.Rahman III to be the capital of the caliphate, royal residence and venue of the government. The legend says it was named Zahra because of his favourite, who suggested him to build this beautiful city.
The capital city of Jaén raises on the foot of the Santa Catalina hill, with steep streets that define its urbanism, widening towards the flatter and wider areas of the new neighborhoods and boulevards. Around it there’s plenty of fertile farming land and extensive olive groves which rest on the Guadalquivir valley. Towards the South and South East are the Jaén and Jabalcuz sierras, that wrap the city, and heading North the Guadalbullón river’s plain opens up, which passes at a very short distance of the city.
Jaén has in its monumental heritage one of its major attractions. A cultural legacy transmitted during centuries by the different cultures that have settled in this land: iberians, tarticians, greeks, fenicians, romans and arabs.
What stands out of the rich architectural heritage of Jaén is the Renaissance cathedral planned by Andrés de Vandelvira half way through the XVI century. One of the most representative building work of the Spanish Renaissance in Andalucía and candidate to be recognized as World Heritage; and the Villardopardo palace from the XVI century, a cultural center where the biggest European arab baths are found.
The international Naïf art museum Manuel Moral and the art and popular habits museum of Jaén province also stand out.
Jaén’s castle is an impressive military collection that “flies” over the city, integrated by three buildings (Santa Catalina castle, Viejo fortress and Abrehuí). The origins go back to Aníbal times, who possibly built the first towers and subsequently were fortified and reinforced throughout the centuries. The Alcázar Viejo (old fortress), that lodged the palace of the arab king, was ordered built by Alhamar. The forty meter tall Torre del Homenaje (tribute tower), was built by Fernando III, the saint
The region also includes municipalities such as Torre del Campo, where the Santa Ana fair takes place, declared national touristic interest; La Guardia, with its arabian castle; Mengíbar, which San Pedro apostle church is a Renaissance jewel; Campillo de Arenas, and localities such as Cércheles, Fuente del Rey and Jabalcuz.
PRIEGO DE CÓRDOBA
Priego de Córdoba is a municipality inside Córdoba´s province; and there are many monuments in it to highlight.
Among them, the Villa Neighbourhood and the Adarve Balcony; declared as an Historic-Artistic Monument in 1972.
With a clear medieval inspiration, its narrow and tortuous streets offer the visitors a labyrinthic route.
Also, the Ntra. Sra. De la Asunción Church (XVI century) deserves to be visited because of its Main Altarpiece from the latest Renaissance; one of the masterpieces of the Spanish Baroque.
The King´s Fountain, whose 139 years old pay tribute to the central figure of the monument, the god Neptune, was declared a National Monument; as well as the Health Fountain.
Finally, the Royal Butcher´s (an old market from XVI century), the Castle (an Arabic fortress) or the Aurora and Saint Francis Churches, also worth the visit.