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The beautiful Andalusian city of Cordoba is home to some fascinating museums, taking an in-depth look at everything from bullfighting to the glory of 10th-century Andalusia, and from flamenco to torture. Here are some of our favourites.
Cordoba’s rather plain 1960s bullring lacks the historical distinction of those in other major Andalusian destinations, but the city’s Museo Taurino, or bullfighting museum, is one of the best in the province. Over several well-organised rooms, it offers a fascinating insight into the history of this controversial spectacle and its greatest practitioners, including the Cordoba-born Manolete, considered to be one of the greatest matadors of all time. A visit here is time well spent for anyone curious about this little-understood tradition, which is still an important part of Andalusian culture.
Cordoba’s Museum of Fine Arts is situated on one of the Old Town’s prettiest squares, in a former hospital. Over two floors it displays a permanent collection of paintings, prints and drawings by artists from the middle ages to the present day, as well as a programme of temporary exhibitions. It is particularly strong on art produced by Cordoban artists from the 15th to 21st centuries, the baroque period and the 19th century. Admission is free and the cool rooms also provide respite from the punishing heat of Cordoba in spring or summer.
1 Plaza del Potro, Cordoba, Spain, +34 957103659
This small but engaging museum looks at the cultural history of southern Spain and Cordoba between the 9th and 12th centuries. It is housed in the Calahorra Tower on the southern end of the city’s Roman bridge; some fantastic views over the bridge and the Old Town are to be had from the top of the tower. Dating from the late 12th century, the Cahalorra tower was built by the Moorish rulers of Cordoba to protect the Puente Romano – one of the city’s main entrances – from Christian invaders. Entry is €4.50 ($5).
Puento Romana, s/n, Cordoba, Spain, +34 957293929
Spread over a series of rooms surrounding a typical Cordoban courtyard, this fascinating museum looks at the history of the art most associated with Andalusia: flamenco. Aided by interactive panels and exhibits, the visitor is taken on a journey through the many stages of flamenco’s evolution and its various different styles and rhythmic forms. It focusses on the life and work of the popular Cordoban flamenco singer Antonio Fernandez Diaz, also known as Fosforito, after whom the museum is named. Entry is free.
Plaza del Potro, s/n, Cordoba, Spain, +34 957485039
Boasting an inventory of around 35,000 items dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, the permanent collection at Cordoba’s Archaeological Museum is considered one of the finest in Spain. It is spread over eight exhibition rooms and three internal courtyards in a beautiful renaissance-style palace, onto which an extension was attached in 2011. And lucky that it was, because the site of Cordoba’s Roman theatre was discovered during construction. It can now be viewed in the basement, whilst the remains of the city’s Roman temple is just a five-minute walk away. Access to the museum is free for EU citizens; all other visitors are charged €1.50 ($1.70).
7 Plaza de Jerónimo Páez, Cordoba, Spain, +34 957355517
Situated in the heart of Cordoba’s old Jewish quarter, the collection at Cordoba’s Inquisition Museum – formerly called the Torture Museum – showcases the inventiveness with which human beings have designed instruments of torture over the centuries. Ranging from the 13th to the mid-19th century, the artefacts on display in this fascinatingly gruesome museum were used to extract admissions for ‘crimes’ ranging from petty theft to heretical belief. A truly disturbing testament to the darker side of 700 years of European history. Admission is €3 ($3.50) and children under 10 are free (if they don’t scare easily).
1 Calle Manríquez, Cordoba, Spain, +34 957474508