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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 well.

Roman 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 Bridge

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 hinterland.

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).

Christian Córdoba
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 regions.

Córdoba Today
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 performers.

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.


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