The most memorable travels are not necessarily the most expensive. This time, I was planning to visit Andalusia with my son who is a student. Since I wanted him to study not only computer programming, but the art of living according to his budget, not mine, he was entrusted with organizing our cheap holiday in Spain, specifically, in Cordoba and Seville.
Spain is one of the most interesting travel destinations in Europe. It has 88 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it is sunny and warm there most of the time. This climate can be an important obstacle for the unfortunate people of Northen Europe. When we enjoy continuous rains or mountains of snow in our countries, in Andalusia you can be surprised by ripe oranges on the city streets.
During one week, we were set to explore Seville with its colossal cathedral, by the way, the third largest in Europe; see the ruins of ancient Roman’s Italica not far from Seville; visit Cordoba, medieval city of great importance for European culture and science history; and to find a couple of medieval castles or Moorish fortresses.
Andalusia is an ideal region for medium-distance travels in Spain. It is only an hour and a half from Seville to Cordoba, but you can get there without renting a car because there is a beautiful road-travel infrastructure in Spain. I will not hesitate to say it is one of the best in Europe. Bus is the cheapest way to travel here. For example, a return-ticket from Barcelona to Madrid costs 44 euros, but you will find the greatest comfort on the AVE trains. Note, when you buy a two-way ticket in Spain the return one will be cheaper by 40%. If you are prepared to travel in the low season, the transfers, hotels, and food will be very cheap.
Looking back now, I can’t say for sure whether we made the right choice, going for a one-week trip around Andalusia. We built in two days for Seville and five for Cordoba. What determined such a choice? Well, in Seville we ought to see the burial place of Christopher Columbus, and Cordoba was preferred to Granada on the last gasp. The Great Mosque of Córdoba against Alhambra. Cordoba won – a small city with a dozen world-famous sightseeing venues located in the historic part of it.
However, here is how things turned out: Cordoba is not bad at all, but it’s just the city of a single-day-visit type. Having read much of the enthusiastic feedback from the Internet, we, probably, made our choice in a hurry, but anyway we saw the Almodovar Castle. Nonetheless, for inexpensive holiday Andalusia is ideal.
Thanks to the rented car (they are also cheap in Andalusia), we moved from Seville to Cordoba with a dash, and on our way we even managed to view the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Italica (north of modern day Santiponce, 9 km NW of Seville, Spain).
At 5 p.m. we practically settled in the Mosque of Córdoba, – Mezquita – the hotel was right in front of the entry. This city is so tiny! No, I don’t mean it’s void of authenticity and a peculiar southern beauty. They cook gazpacho and steaks perfectly here, and the cafes where these steaks are served explicitly show that we are in the very center of the toreador’s native land.
Notable houses with patios are all around; any minute now, there is an ancient chapel in the following one.
A simple by-street, but isn’t it beautiful? Traditional Andalusian house-fronts. Orange trees along the well-kept streets; seeing them laden with ripened fruit, is more pleasurable than seeing plane-trees or birches.
Cordoba’s Roman Bridge is a surviving dinosaur of history. Sixteen arches of a 250-meter bridge were raised over the Guadalquivir river in the times of the Emperor Augustus in the beginning of the 1st century A.D. It is probably my favorite place in this city. Both early in the morning and late in the evening it is so good to walk along the bridge from one bank to another again and again, watching the water flowing away like time, and thinking your own thoughts.
Here is the brutal-looking church Santa Marina or Iglesia de Santa Marina Cordoba and the famous toreador nearby.
At last, Mezquita still remains a puzzle for me and creates an ambiguous impression. Have I not mentioned the local Alcázar? I’m afraid it is not possible to compare it with the Alcázar of Seville and one of the best Alcazars: the Alcázar of Segovia!
So if you have another free day to spend in Andalusia, the sightseeing of Cordoba is a good choice to occupy this day, but even a week won’t be enough in order to take in all the sightes of Cordoba. Thanks to this trip we saw Almodovar Castle, Castillo de los Sotomayor de Belalcazar, and the ruins of Zuheros Castle and Montefrio. We simply didn’t have time to reach Teatro Romano de Mérida (Roman Theater) and the Templars’ Castillo de Capilla, located in Badajoz, but we have a good reason to come back to the best region of Spain: Andalusia.