Córdoba Province – Andalucía
Córdoba province lies between the Sierra Morena to the north and the Subbética to the south, and is divided by the valley of the Guadalquivir. It is blessed with a Mediterranean climate with sharp temperature contrasts between the warm summers and cold winters.
An excellent network of roads connects the province with any form of transport (air, rail, maritime) in less tham two hours, and the capital city is on the AVE high speed rail network.
A wealth of historic towns and cities, a rich natural environment, a huge range of activities to suit all tastes, colourful fiestas, and numerous gastronomic delights are just some of the many attractions which never fail to captivate thouse who visit Cordoba.
Art and Culture
Cordoba´s rich natural and mining resources have, over the centuries, attracted numerous different peoples including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romanas. Roman Corduba was a thriving and prosperous city and proof of this are the numerous remains found in the area such as the Roman village of El Ruedo de Almedinilla, the Roman cisterns of Monturque and the archaeological site of Cercadillas in the city of Córdoba.
However, the city´s greatest era would not come until the period of Muslim domination. Cordoba was the capital of Muslim Spain and this period bequeathed the city the two great monuments which have made it one of the most important cultural toursim destinations in the world: the Mosque, which together with the historic centre of the city has been designated a World Heritage Site; and the palatial city fo Medina Azahara (World Heritage by UNESCO since 1018).
With the Christian conquest old mosques were replaced by churches, shrines, and convents, and castles like that of Almodovar del Río started to populate the landscape. The baroque period left its mark particulary in the towns of Priego de Córdoba, Cabra and Lucena, and notable buildings including a number of grand mansions and small palaces as well as the Sacrarium of the Church of La Asunción in Priego.
Two traditional crafts inherited from Cordoba´s rich historical and artistic legacy continue to thrive in the province: leather and silver work. Leather contiues to be worked using the traditional cordobán technique: untanned leather in its natural colour, and the guadamecil style of polychromed leather engraved with decorative silver patterns, both of which have brought much fame to Cordoban craftsmen.
Silversmiths have always worked in the province, particularly in the capital, which has the largest number of workshops in Spain. As well as the filigree jewellery work and traditional metal and silver pieces, new designs and metals have been incorporated, leading to a considerable increase in the variety of objects being produced.
Other craft activities which continue to thrive include: caliphal style pottery and ceramics, particularly in La Rambla; furniture production, notably in Lucena, Castro del Río (specialising in the use of olive wood), Villa del Río, and Palma del Río; barrel making, mainly in Montilla; and guitar making.
Festivals and Traditions in Córdoba Province
The festive calendar of Cordoba is rich and varied. The Easter celebrations take place in some of the most dramatic and unusual settings in the province. In may there are fiestas throughout the Córdoba province as people celebrate the traditional May Crosses, which are particularly colourful in Áñora. This festivity is also celebrated in the city of Cordoba itself, which during May opens its plant-filled patios to visitor for a festival and competition which marks the high point of the province´s festive period.
Romerías (local pilgrimages) such as that of Los Gitanos, in Cabra, or that celebrated during the Fiestas Aracelitanas, in Lucena, attact pilgrims from far and wide, and throughout the summer most of Cordoba´stowns and villages celebrate ferias, verbenas and veladas. The harvest Festival in Montilla or the traditional Baile de los Locos y Baile del Oso in Fuente Palmera and Fuente Carretero, are amongst the more picturesque events of the festive calendar.
The Córdoba province also offers a wide range of cultural activities and prestigious festivals of great renown such as the International Piano Music Festival in Lucena, the Teatro en el Sur season, in Palma del Río, the International Festival of Music, Theatre, and Dance in Priego de Cordoba, and the Guitar Festival in the city of Cordoba itself, amongst many others.
Prepared with products sourced from both the Sierra and the Campiña, Cordoba´s cuisine boasts a rich mixture of exotic flavours and aromas inherited form the Romans, the Arabs, and the Jews. The Córdoba province produces a range of olive oils whose exceptional quality is demonstrated by the fact that there are two denominations of origin which protect the produce of the olive groves surrounding the towns of Baena and Priego de Córdoba. This “golden liquid” is the main ingredient of a variety of typical dishes such as salmorejo and gazpacho. The Valley of Los Pedroches is the source of beef and lamb of exceptional quality, as well as the magnificient hams produced from the pigs reared in the meadows and fed exclusively with acoms. Both the hams and and a range of cured meats are protected under the Los Pedroches Denomitaion of Origin.
Thanks to the numerous hunting reserves there are also a wide range of other meats such as venison, wild boar, mouflon, rabbit or partridge. The Montilla-Moriles wines, which also have their own denomination of origin, are perfect for accompanying typical Cordoban dishes such as flamenquín and oxtail stew.
Finlally the anises from Rute and the sweet pastries of Arabic and Jewish origin go to complete this range of culinary delights.
Córdoba Province Natura and Active Tourism
The Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro, Sierras Subbéticas and Sierra de Hornachuelos nature parks (the latter being part of the “Dehesas de Sierra Morena” Biosphere Reserve) give Cordoba a wide variety of landscapes from meadows and Mediterranean woodlands populated by holm and cork oaks to steep mountainous areas with deep narrow valleys irrigated by rivers like the Yeguas, the Bembézar, the Retortillo or the Guadiato.
Diversity of wildlife, including species of game such as wild boar, deer and fallow deer, makes Cordoba´s countryside an ideal destination for hunters.
Wolves, lynxes, wild cats, foxes and others are just some of the other species which are commonly seen in these areas, wich also provide a home to a number of birds of prey such as the golden and Spanish imperial eagle, black and griffon vultures, little and eagle owls, etc.
The nature reserves of Laguna Amarga, Laguna de Tíscar, Laguna de Zóñar, Laguna del Rincón, Laguna de los Jarales and Laguna Salobral, make up an area of wetlands known as the Zonas Húmedas del Sur de Córdoba. These Endorreic zones are used as wintering and nesting areas by numerous migratory birds amongst which is the rare white-heated duck.
The river Guadalquivir, which forms the backbone of the province, acts as a green corridor and habitat for numerous plant and animal species. In addition to offering many opportunities to those who enjoy outdoor activities in natural surroundings, particularly water sports such as rowing, conaeing and sailing, the river is ideal for bird watching.
Other forms of active tourism in the province include walking and cycle-tourism (for which the Campiña and Subbética green routes are particularly suitable), horse riding, balloon trips, climbing and potholing (paricularly in the fascinating Cave of Los Murciélagos in Zuheros, and many other disciplines.
The Upper Guadalquivir
This route covers the eastern part of the province of Córdoba, following the course of the upper Guadalquivir through the Cardeña-Montoro Nature Park (with its numerous reserves of big and small game) and visiting the reservoirs of the rivers Yeguas, El Salto and Martín Gonzalo, which are ideal for water sports and bird watching. Lovers of culture should not miss the opportunity to visit the historic town of Montoro as well as the Roman bridge over the Porcuna stream and the Muslim Castle, both of wich are in Villa del Río.
The Southern Campiña
Set beween the Sierras Subbéticas and the Valley of the Guadalquivir, the area covered in the route has protected wetlands of great ecological value. There are also a number of white villages whose past is closely linked to the large estate belonging to the aristocratic Fernández de Córdoba family.
The rich and fascinating historic heritage includes sites such as the Roman reamins of Monturque and the fortresses of Puente-Genil, Montemayor and Aguilar de la Frontera, amongst others. The area´s wines, protected by the Montilla Moriles Denomination of Origin, are internationally renowned.
The Guadajoz – Easrtern Campiña
The Cordoban Campiña, which lies between the Sierras del Sur in Jaén and the Subbética and is irrigated by the river Guadajoz, is very much defined by its main product olive oil. Protected bt the “Baena” Denomination of Origin, it is also the central theme of a thriving local tourist industry with museums and pressing plants. There is also a specific Olive Oil Route which passess through Baena, Castro del Río, Espejo, Nueva Carteya and Valenzuela.
This covers the southern part of the Córdoba province and is very much a combination of culture and nature. Interesting features include: the Sierras Subbéticas Nature Park; the Baroque route (centred very much on Priego de Córdoba, Lucena and Cabra); the Los Murciélagos Cave in Zuheros, which is of great archaeological interest and is also ideal for potholing; and the Vía Verde de la Subbética green route.
The Los Pedroches
Situated on the border between Andalusia, Extremadura and Castilla la Mancha, this is the largest region in the Córdoba province. Grazing on its hillsides is an animal which is emblematic of the region, the iberian pig. It is the source of the famous ham with the Los Pedroches Denomination of Origin and is th subject of the Ruta del Ibérico. Also of great interest are the Moorish castles, the grand manor houses with their coats of arms and the Church of San Juan Bautista of Hinojosa del Duque, known as the “Cathedral of the Sierra”.
The Sierra Morena
This covers the centre of the province from east to west and features two nature parks: the Sierra de Hornachuelos and the Cardeña-Montoro. The rich mining legacy, the natural environment, the range of with wildlife, the wide choice of active toursim possibilities and the traditional architecture, all combine to make it a unique destination for rural tourism.
The Guadiato Valley
Situated to the north west of the province, it takes its name from the river which passes from the river which passes through it, the Guadiato. The beauty of the natural surroundings, the typical architecture (with cobbled streets which are still frequently used by herds of sheep), the traditional lifestyle and the historical legacy (some 14 castles have been declared Sites of Cultural Interest) have made this a favourite area for rural tourism in Andalusia.
Mining, which has gone on here since ancient times has also become a tourist attaction and the Bélmez Mining Museum is well worth a visit.
The Guadalquivir Floodplain
Covering the area surrounding the middle course of the Guadalquivir, this route is characterised by a great diversity of landscapes, including the campiña, the floodplain and the sierra. As well as the Sierra de Hornachuelos Nature Park (part of the “Dehesas de Sierra Morena” biosphere reserve), wich is an ideal area for those interested in hunting, there are sites of great historical interest such as the castle of Almodóvar del Río. Its origins go back to the Iberian period, although the castle we see today dates from the 14th century.