The charming network of streets that extends to the north of Córdoba’s great Mosque-Cathedral is known as la Juderia, the old Jewish quarter, and is the best area in which to hunt for souvenirs in the city. It should be your first stop if you’re not quite sure what you’re after, as the range of handmade Arabic-style fabrics, Andalusian pottery and leather goods on offer is bound to entice you to make a purchase. As with any part of a city that’s constantly packed with tourists, there’s a lot of tat on sale around here – think figurines of flamenco dancers, poorly-made “flamenco” fans and cuddly bulls etc – but if you have a good eye you’ll find plenty that’s worth taking home.
One of the best gift shops in this busy and vibrant neighbourhood of Córdoba is Artesanía Al Andalus, situated on the main street that winds away to the west of the cathedral. Traditional Andlausian pottery is the main draw here, alongside jewellery and ornaments bearing both Spanish and Arabic designs and paintings (many by local artists) of famous Córdoba sights –including, of course, renderings of the extraordinary Mosque-Cathedral. The gifts and souvenirs available in this classy little shop are a little pricier than those in the many cheap and cheerful streets stalls by which it’s surrounded, but if you want something a little bit special to remember your stay in Córdoba, Artesanía fits the bill.
Attached to la Casa de Cabezas (House of the Heads) – a myth-laden Moorish palace in the old part of Córdoba – is a gift shop that sells some of the finest handmade Cordobese products in the city. From pottery and jewellery to the beautiful patterned tiles that decorate many of the city’s oldest houses, this is a great place to shop if you want your souvenir to really speak of Córdoba, rather than just Andalusia. The Casa de las Cabezas is also well worth a visit in its own right, promising as it does (or rather, as its website does) to give you a better understanding of a Spain “wounded by contradictions”.
Cuero – or leather –goods, in particular bags, purses, wallets and belts, are a local speciality in Córdoba and are still made by hand in studios and workshops all over town. As its tagline suggests, Ghadamés is one of the best places to head for such an item to take home as a reminder of your stay in this enchanting city. It also sells a good range of high quality, handmade homewear and exquisite Moorish-style prints, should you wish to make the interior of your house look more like Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral. You’ll pay a little more here than in souvenir stores in la Juderia, but it’ll be money well spent.
There are few better ways to show that you’ve really dug under the surface of a city than taking home something bought at one of its local markets. If you’re going to be in Córdoba on a Sunday, then, the El Arenal market is a must-visit for a truly authentic souvenir. Ranged along Calle de El Infierno, noisy vendors sell locally-made jewellery, pottery and leather goods from some of the market’s 240 plus stalls, whilst at others you can buy famous Andalusian foodstuffs such as olives, high-quality olive oils, wines and of course the delicious cured hams. Friends and family back home will be in little doubt where you’ve been if, upon arriving back from Córdoba, you walk in the door with a leg of jamón slung over your shoulder.
Another great place to head for consumable souvenirs – and also for a wander around and a round of tapas – is Mercado Victoria. Popular with locals as well as tourists, this smart covered market is full of gourmet food stalls at which you can buy high-end cheeses, cured meats, wines and olive oils as a memento of your time in Córdoba. Victoria is also where Cordobese foodies head to buy daily essentials and to exchange gossip, making for a lively atmosphere as you shop; and when you’ve had enough of shopping, join them in the various posh tapas outlets for a cold beer and a tasty snack.