Cordoban patios and the Mezquita

Un viaje en España – Day 2 – Patios of Cordoba and the Mezquita

After a glorious hotel breakfast, we started our short day in Cordoba with one of its considerable gems – the patios. Although these patios were part of private residences in the historical section of town, some patios were open year round to visitors. The patio group required a ticket from a small shop near the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, which also provided a map to the patios. All within a few minutes’ walk of each other, the patios were another world altogether behind white-washed walls and intricate iron gates.

Each of the open patios was marked with signage and an opening time – most of the ones we saw opened at either 10 or 11 AM. From there, a quick knock brought us into some very magical spaces. Walls adorned with flowering plants, wells, fountains, old farming equipment, sitting places to envy, and even the occasional patio guard cat. The owners were friendly and open to discussing the history and their passion for keeping up the patio space. It’d been several years since I studied Spanish, but I could keep a fair stream of what they were saying in my head and very poorly translate it for my friend. I couldn’t remember how to ask very complex questions, but I could at least get the gist of the story.

Each patio had its own style and grace, but they were all stunning. Each one was like stepping into a fairy garden, shutting out the outside world and bathing you in sunlight and the scent of fresh earth and blooming flowers. I can’t describe the feeling of tranquility the patios inspired, or the sense of awe, but all I can say is – visit them. Absolutely. The tickets were only a few Euros, and you won’t be disappointed by spending a morning visiting these hidden spaces.

Ticket and visitor information:

Los Patios del Alcazar Viejo

Calle D San Basilio, 14, 14004 Córdoba, Spain

Of course, one cannot pass through Cordoba without a visit to the stunning Mezquita.

The Mezquita was a calm, cool oasis in the middle of a hot as hell Spanish summer. The old Romanesque arches, alternating in yellow, ivory, and russet red, seemed to echo on forever across the cold stone floor. The mihrab, a remnant of when the Mezquita was an Islamic mosque, had a beautiful niched and recessed ceiling that warranted a stare up until my neck hurt. Then, just walking around and marveling at the endless arches took some time.

Be sure to enjoy it. Don’t rush it.

The peace that came from the dark interior was beyond comprehension, but it certainly felt like the most wonderful sensation after such a rushed end of the school year.

We rehydrated in the Courtyard of Oranges, which, to be fair, was covered in orange trees and smelled absolutely like bursting oranges. Despite the heat, many people were still in the courtyard and the Mezquita, trying to keep cool with ice creams and ice water.

We found a place nearby for lunch (I do recommend trying to get further away from the touristy sector of town for less expensive tapas) and ate one of the best dishes ever – eggplants (aubergines) with honey. In this case, thin slices of eggplant were battered and fried up and served with a caramelized “honey-like” sauce. It was all kinds of delicious with a side of Iberian ham, empanadas, and sangria. I could go for those again, certainly!

Fried eggplants w/ honey sauce. Best. Dish. Ever.

The Mezquita and the patios – only such a small part of what Cordoba offered to visitors, but unfortunately, it was all we had time for before venturing out of old town and heading for the gorgeous southern Spanish town of Seville.


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