Córdoba (in English: Cordova) is a city in Andalucía,
southern Spain, and the capital of the province of
Córdoba. Located at 37.88° North, 4.77° West, on the
Guadalquivir river, it was founded in ancient Roman times
as Cordoba by Claudius Marcellus. Its population is
321,164 as of 2005.
Today a moderately sized modern city, the old town
contains many impressive architectural reminders of when
Córdoba was the thriving capital of the Caliphate of
Córdoba that governed almost all of the Iberian Peninsula.
It has been estimated that Córdoba, with up to 500,000
inhabitants in the tenth century, was the second largest
city in the world after Constantinople.
Córdoba was the birthplace of four famous philosophers:
the Roman stoic Seneca, the Muslim Averroes, and the
Jewish Maimonides and possibly Abraham Cohen de Herrera.
Córdoba was also the birthplace of the Roman poet Lucan,
medieval Spanish poet Juan de Mena, and Luis de Góngora,
who lived most of his life and wrote his most important
works but one in Córdoba.
More recently, several flamenco artists including Paco
Peña, Vicente Amigo, and Joaquin Cortés were born there as
Córdoba in Hispania Baetica
In Roman times, Córdoba was capital of the province of
Hispania Baetica and rich in cultural buildings. Remains
of the Roman Temple built by Claudius Marcellus, the Roman
Córdoba was conquered by the Moors in 711. During the time
of Islamic rule, Córdoba was the largest city and arguably
embodied the most sophisticated culture and the most
developed bureaucracy in Europe. When the Umayyad Caliphs
were deposed in Damascus in 750, the dynasty relocated to
Córdoba, ruling an emirate there until 929.
When Abd-ar-rahman III submitted a rival claim to the
title of Caliph, then held by the Abbasids in Baghdad, he
assumed the title of Caliph of Córdoba and transformed his
kingdom from an emirate or sultanate into a caliphate.
Córdoba reached its peak in the 10th century, under three
great rulers: the first Caliph, Abd-ar-rahman III ("al-Nasir,"
912–61), his son al-Hakam II (961–76) and the dictator
Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, more familiar as Almansor (or
Almanzor in Spanish), "the Victorious" (981–1002).
The 10th century Caliphate of Córdoba was the largest,
culturally the most sophisticated polity in all Europe.
Contemporary chroniclers, all of them Arabic, like the
geographer Ibn Hawkal in 948, marvelled, "The amount of
coins in circulation! The variety of crops grown! The
people! "The textiles! The gardens! The mosques!" — There
were more than 600 mosques and 900 public baths, 50
hospitals and several large markets.
"You could walk through her streets for ten miles in one
direction at night, and always have the light of lamps to
guide your way. Seven hundred years later this would still
be an innovation in London or Paris, as would pave streets."
It is believed that Córdoba was the largest city in the
world from 935 to 1013
The German Emperor Otto I sent his emissaries to the
Caliph, but in the 1020s and 1030s the whole imposing
political structure collapsed, visioning into more than a
dozen successors stateless, known to historians as (the
reinos de taifas) such as Seville, Badajoz, Toledo,
Saragossa, Albarracín, Valencia, Almeria and Granada.
While they were heirs to the wealth of the Caliphate,
their instability and endemic hostilities amongst
themselves made them vulnerable to attacks from the
Christian north. The history of Córdoba after the mid 11th
century shrinks to the story of the city and its immediate
The most important monument in the city is the former
Mosque (once the 3rd largest mosque in the world), known
as the Mezquita. After the conquest, the mosque was
rededicated as a cathedral and later partially rebuilt in
the form of a more conventional Christian place of worship.
Another splendid monument is the city ruins of Medina
Azahara (Arabic: Madinat Al-Zahra). Other important
monuments are the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, where
in 1492; Christopher Columbus gained permission to travel
to the "Indies". Other areas of general interest are the
caliphal baths, the many churches and quaint streets in
the Jewish quarter (the Judería).
Córdoba was taken by the Christians from the Muslims as
part of the Reconquista in 1236, and the city became a
centre of operations against the remaining Islamic
Though Córdoba in 2007 is the only provincial capital in
Spain where the city government is controlled by a leftist
coalition, Izquierda Unida, a branch of the Communist
Party of Spain, the quality of life is similar to other
important cities in Spain where Partido Socialista and
Partido Popular rule since the death of Franco.
Surviving Renaissance monuments in Córdoba include the
Palace of Viana, the city's Ducal Palace.
Córdoba is famous for its floral patio arrangements.
Residents, in some quarters, take great pride in their
patios and compete amongst themselves for the most
beautiful display. The city's old quarter is also famous
for its distinctive white buildings and balconies
decorated with flowers. The pavements of the town are also
populated with orange trees.
The Andalusia tradition of Flamenco dancing is still
trying to maintain a strong presence in Córdoba today;
with a rich history of famous Flamenco figures and several
competitions and shows.
The Concurso National de Arte Flamenco in Córdoba, first
established in 1956, is held every three years in April to
May in two stages, offering prizes to the most talented
The city also declared 2006 its Year of Flamenco, but the
local population rather prefer English and Spanish pop
music as opposed to Flamenco. Pubs and bars play Spanish
and English pop music. Only a handful of bars, mostly for
tourists rather than for locals, offer Flamenco music.
The tourism is very important for the future of the city,
and so great care is taken in maintaining both monuments
and Andalusia traditions to ensure it.