This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A city in Spain often overlooked by tourists now has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other.
Cordoba, a city in Andalusia about a two-hour train ride from Madrid, became the first city in the world to have four world heritage sites this year. According to CNN, that’s even more than other historic destinations such as Paris and Rome.
The UNESCO sites are determined by the World Heritage Committee, a rotating panel of government representatives from 21 countries among the numerous member nations around the world. To qualify, the sites must be “of universal outstanding value” and meet at least one of the committee’s 10 criteria (think: “represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.”)
Planning a trip to Spain? Here are the four sites you see with a single visit to Cordoba:
Cordoba’s first registered UNESCO site in 1984, this ornate building was built between 784 and 786 CE as a mosque and was converted to a cathedral when Christians conquered the city in the 13th century.
The Historic City Center
The center of Cordoba is a winding labyrinth of narrow streets with monuments that can be traced back to Roman, Arabic and Christian rulers of the city. The area is bordered by the Mosque-Cathedral and the medieval Alcazar that was first used as a Visigoth fortress, housed Cordoba’s early Arabic rulers and later served as a primary residence for Spanish kings and queens. The city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
The Patios Festival
The city’s Patios Festival tradition began in 1918, and it involves local residents opening up their ornate patios to tourists and neighbors each spring to show off their elaborate plants for a competition. In 2019, the festival will take place from May 6 to May 19. As a culturally significant custom, it was recognized by the World Heritage Committee in 2012.
Cordoba’s most recent UNESCO site is the ancient city of Medina Azahara, which was built on the outskirts of Cordoba by ancient Muslim rulers between 936 and 976. According to its website, Medina Azahara was likely founded “to promote the new image of the recently-created independent western Caliphate as one of the strongest, most powerful kingdoms in Medieval Europe.” Though most of the city was destroyed in civil wars in the 11th century, ruins of the city still stand and display the craftsmanship and artistry of the people who constructed it.
All images via Getty unless otherwise noted.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees