Everything you need to know about the Alcazar of Cordoba

There are few landmarks that have come to feature in iconic photos of the city of Cordoba. The Mezquita is one of them, and the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos ("Castle of the Christian Kings") is another. However, whereas the Mezquita is known all over the world, the Alcazar is more of an underdog. Is this medieval castle worth a visit? Let's find out.

Garden of the Alcazar

History of the Alcazar

The Alcazar has always been an important place in Cordoba. It used to be the residence of Roman governors and Moorish caliphs, and in 1328 it became the home of the Spanish kings when they were in Cordoba.

It is known as the Alcazar of the Reyes Cristianos because the Christian Kings Fernando and Isabella lived in the castle for over eight years while they orchestrated the reconquest of Granada. It was in the Alcazar that Christopher Columbus pitched his idea of looking for a Western route to reach India. 

After the reconquest of Spain was complete, Fernando and Isabella donated the building to the church of Cordoba, who made it the site of the Courts of the Holy Offices (the feared Inquisition). In the centuries after that, the castle was used as a civil prison, and later as a military one. Nowadays the building is an Historical Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It doubles as a museum and a place for public and private events (concerts, weddings ...).

The facade of the Alcazar

Highlights of the castle

The Alcazar was strategically built on the banks of Guadalquivir river, to the south-west of the casco antiguo (the old town). Just few steps away from the famous and picturesque Jewish Quarter, you can easily find it while walking through the narrow streets of the historical center.

Cordoba, Alcazar

When you enter the castle, you can climb the Torre de los Leones ("Lions' Tower"). Although it is a bit of a climb, the view is worth it: you can see all of the city and the surrounding countryside.

From the Torre de Leones you can access the Torre del Homenaje ("Tower of the Tribute"). The other towers are not open for the public. 

View of the Roman Bridge from the Alcazar

In the gallery downstairs, various artifacts that were recovered from the Alcazar are displayed. There are Roman, Moorish and Catholic finds, representing the evolution of Cordoba and Spain throughout the centuries. There is also a ceremony hall in the gallery. Its walls are partly covered in Roman mosaics, which gives the room a very interesting added element.

Roman mosaic in Cordoba

Another highlight of the Alcazar can been seen outside the building: its stunning patio and garden. The big interior patio boasts some remains of the old structure that was constructed when the Moorish caliphs reigned Cordoba. 

Interior patio of the Alcazar

The large garden was added by the Christian Kings Fernando and Isabella, but its style was influenced by Moorish gardens and patios. When wandering about the garden, it is hard not to think of those other famous Arabic gardens of the Generalife in Granada.

Garden of the Alcazar

The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is an amazing building were history was made. If you're planning a holiday in Cordoba, don't miss out on it!

Practical information

Entrance fees

- Adults: €4.50

- Children up to 13 years old: free

- Students (with student card): €2.25

You can also buy the Touristic Bracelet which gives you access to the Alcazar, Museo de Julio Romero, the Arabic baths of the caliphs and the Museo Taurino. Price: €8.40 (free for people over 65).

Opening hours

- Tuesdays - Fridays: 08:30-20:45

- Saturdays: 08:30-16:30

- Sundays and holidays: 08:30-14:30

These opening hours may change overtime depending on the season, so check the website of Cordoba Tourism if you are not certain.