The province of Cordoba is split in two by the Guadalquivir and the north of the province has closely knit mountain ranges plentiful to game and in the south there spreads a fruitful country, the Campina, speckled with white villages and trimmed by another stretch of mountains belonging to the Southern Betica mountain range.
In the 10th century Cordoba was proclaimed the capital of the Islamic world in the west and such was its grandeur that it competed in power and wealth with far-away Baghdad.
The city's most outstanding monument is the Mezquita-Cathedral with nearly one thousand columns in this unique mosque. The old quarter and the mosque have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and under the Caliphate of Cordoba the city became the most cultivated and magnificent in 10th century Europe with around 1,000 mosques, 600 public baths and lighting in the streets, (700 years before London or Paris).
The city was home of a large group of wise men, poets, doctors, philosophers and mystics, some of whom achieved universal status such as the philosopher Averroes and the Jewish doctor Maimonides.
This beautiful city has many monuments and numerous ancestral homes with resplendent indoor courtyards, and during the first fortnight of May neighbours compete in decorating their courtyards with flowers and plants and opening them to the public.
The most traditional area is around the Mezquita and horse drawn carriages are a pleasant way to see the ancient quarter, and in the evening take in the heady fragrance of jasmine wafting through the narrow cobbled streets.
There are a number of places within a short distance of Cordoba that should not be missed, for example the ruins of Madinat al-Zahra, the Medina Azahara, the Monastery of San Jeronimo de Valparaios and the hermitages.
In the northern part of the province the long, wide mountainous band formed by the Sierra Morena opens up and here we find Los Pedroches, an area presided over by landscape of meadows and holm oak. The Iberian pig can be found here rummaging under the oak trees, and the towns are rich in history.
In Belalcazar stands a medieval castle which served as a feudal lookout in ancient times, and Santa Eufemia is a small hamlet from where the remains can be seen of the old Moorish castle of Miramontes which formerly acted as a kind of boundary.
Pedroche is devoted to agriculture and pig-raising, and in the old quarter the Church of the Transfiguration, where its 60 meter tower can be admired from various points in the area.
The Parque Natural Sierra de Hornachuelos is a good example of Mediterranean forest and is endowed by plenty of wildlife such as black vultures, imperial eagles, black storks, lynx and melconcillo, a relation of the mongoose.
Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir are attractive towns with interesting histories, such as Montoro with the Tower of San Bartolome and the Plaza de Espana, and a few kms further is Almodovar del Rio, famous for its impregnable Moorish castle.
In the town of Palma del Rio the walled quarter and Convent of San Francisco, with its luminous 15th cloister are interesting.
To the south of Cordoba extends a region where grapevines and olive trees flourish and Montila is the capital of the Cordoba wine production and Baena of olive oil, considered one of the best in the world.
In the middle is Lucena, the second largest city in the province, and the church of San Mateo has one of the most imposing baroque shrines in Andalusia.
Five kms from Lucena is the Sanctuary of Nuestra Senora de Arael, where from the hillock in the heart of the Sierra de Aras it is possible to see five of the eight Andalusian provinces.
The road travels through landscape of holm oak until reaching the Sierra Subbetica where the baroque city of Priego de Cordoba is located, and the nearby towns of Luque and Carcabuey with their lovely castles.
A few kms further is the pretty village of Zuheros, site of the caves called Cuevas de los Murcielagos and its castle perched over the cliffs and literally hanging in space.