Córdoba is ideal for those who like to eat well, explore on foot, dive into old bodegas and relish architectural wonders. The city's heart needs no introduction, for its fame is widespread: the magnificent Mezquita, a symbol of worldly and sophisticated Islamic culture, lords over the town centre and pulls thousands of tourists into its arched interior every day. The streets of the Judería (Jewish quarter) stretch out from the great mosque like capillaries (albeit those nearest the monument are clogged with tourist bric-a-brac), unexpectedly emerging on peaceful plazas. The compact town centre has a more boisterous vibe with some excellent bars and restaurants – some of which have become sights in themselves – while the Islamic ruin of Medinat al-Zahra, west of town, stirs the imagination with its glory and grandeur.
Córdoba is quiet and withdrawn during the winter months but bursts into life from mid-April to mid-June, when the city stages most of its major fiestas. At this time of year the skies are blue, the heat is tolerable and the city's many trees and courtyards drip with foliage and blooms.
The medieval city is immediately north of the Río Guadalquivir, with a warren of narrow streets surrounding the Mezquita. Within the medieval city, the area northwest of the Mezquita was known as the Judería, the Muslim quarter was north and east of the Mezquita, and the Mozarabic (Christian) quarter was further to the northeast. The main square of Córdoba is Plaza de las Tendillas, with the main shopping streets to the plaza’s north and west.