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More Cordoba

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We had a week in Córdoba and enjoyed our daily explorations both near and further from our apartment. Though on a map, the old town of Córdoba looks like a daunting maze of streets and plazas and churches, it was eminently walkable in reality and never seemed to take us very long to get anywhere, perhaps because there was so much to look at along the way.

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Although we did not realize it when we booked our Air BNB, only a week or so before we got to Córdoba, it turned out that we were actually in one of the oldest parts of the city near the Plaza de Capuchinos, originally part of the Capuchin convent. It is an austere white-walled square called by the poet Ricardo Molina “nothing more than a rectangle of lime and sky” with the very plain Capuchin church at one end and in the middle, the 18th C sculpture known as Christ of the Lanterns, a large stone crucifix with 8 lanterns around it. Leading up to this square, is a set of long shallow steps called the Cuesta del Bailio that originally connected the upper part of the city with the lower part through a gate. Near the top of the stairs is a baroque black granite fountain and then a 16th C house with a beautiful Reanaissance facade. At the bottom of the steps is this lovely modern sculpture of the woman watering the pots on the wall.

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A short walk away, near the closest grocery store on a mostly pedestriaized street of shops and bars was the remains of a Roman temple. It was discovered in the 1950s during the expansion of the City Hall. Its construction began during the reign of the Emperor Claudius - 41-96 CE and it was built almost completely of marble. What remains of this 32 x 16 meter temple are its foundation, staircase, alter and columns. Unfortunately, the site has been closed since 2018 when, just a few months into a second restoration phase, the construction company went into bankrupcy. But it was still a very dramatic sight right in our little neighbourhood, the high white columns rising up above the street across from the old San Pablo church. You can sit and have a glass of wine on what used to be a Roman circus for chariot races on the edge of ancient Córdoba with a view of a Roman temple. Hard to beat that!

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A short walk down those shallow steps I described earlier in this post, brought us to the Palacio Viano, recommended to us by our apartment host Delphine, when she found out we were gardeners. This turned out to be the most enchanting place that we would not have known about otherwise. Though we went on a free day, there were only a few other visitors.

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Although it is called a palace now, the Palacio started as a 15th century stately home. Over time, the aristocratic families who came to possess the building transformed it into a Renaissance palace. It was named ‘Palacio de Viana’ after the last family to live in the palace: the Marquises of Viana. The palace houses collections of Renaissance art in various rooms into which you can look, including the stables containing some very old coaches and sets of livery.

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But what was really magical about Palacio Viana were its many patios or courtyards, 12 I think. Every major and even minor room seemed to open onto a uniquely designed patio, some very large and some small and you went from one patio into another.

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The palace underwent several transformations over the centuries, especially in the 17th century which gave it its current appearance. The palace remained in the possession of the Villaseca family until, in the mid-19th century, it was transferred to the Marquises of Viana by marriage and then was purchased as a museum and cultural centre in 1980.

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Over the centuries, the 18 owners from the nobility who lived here added to the house and gardens. While we were not seeing it during its peak bloom period, it was really a lovely experience wandering from one courtyard into another, then into the house and put into yet another beautiful outdoor space. Each courtyard had fountains and pools, water again being such an important feature and we noticed espaliered orange trees on many of the walls.

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And as almost always seems to be the case in Spain, just outside the doors to this gorgeous place was a lovely little cafe.

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The day we had this little excursion was Jim’s 70th birthday and Valentine’s Day. The previous day, we had discovered the Córdoba gourmet food market which contained, not booths selling produce, fish and meats, but booths selling many different kinds of tapas. It’s in a park and is almost like a club with various seating areas with different decors inside and out.

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We decided to have a late birthday lunch there and sampled food from various booths along with appropriate bevies. Happy birthday Jim. Now get back on that bike!

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Posted by Jenniferklm 02:07 Archived in Spain

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