Trip Tips: From mosques to olive groves in Cordoba

Jan 24 2014, 15:44 IST
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Founded by the Romans, Cordoba sits strategically on the Guadalquivir river linking the port of Cadiz to the interior. Reuters Founded by the Romans, Cordoba sits strategically on the Guadalquivir river linking the port of Cadiz to the interior. Reuters
SummaryIf you enjoy combining cultural history, good food and good wine with a stroll through pretty old streets...

to share a series of small dishes instead of a main course.

Some popular local dishes worth trying are fried eggplant with molasses (berenjena frita en miel) and an egg and breadcrumb roll of pork loin wrapped with thinly sliced Spanish ham (flamenquin de Iberico) with homemade garlic mayonnaise.

Lunch options include outdoor tapas bars or more formal restaurants such as El Churrasco at Calle Romero 16.

Follow the menu suggestions of Pedro, the head waiter and entertaining showman. Start with a glass of Montilla-Moriles fino, a local aperitivo halfway between wine and sherry, before trying the smoked sardines on toast with guacamole and tomato jam (sardines guacamole caramel de tomate).

The kid goat or beef tenderloin (lomo de buey) goes down well with a glass of Ribero del Duero Torre de Golban (crianza). A good accompaniment could be sliced potatoes with egg and garlic (patatas a lo pobre) or white beans (habitas) in virgin olive oil with bits of ham and cooked in egg.

For dessert, the fried milk flambé with anise is a treat.


Priego de Cordoba, a 90-minute drive into the mountains southeast of Cordoba, is a picturesque town in a major olive oil region with half a dozen important mills, known as Al Masara in Arabic.

Cordoba is proud of its olive oil and nowhere more so than Priego, which like wine has its own regional denomination and is considered the best in Spain.

This region of Andalusia also produces some fine white wines such as Barbarillo Castillo de San Diego.

Visits to the oil mills, as well as olive oil tastings, can be organised. The Al Masara Virgin del Carmen, owned by Manuel Montes Marin, has won a host of international awards for its oil. The most famous is Portico de la Villa, sold at gourmet stores across Europe, including Harrods in London.

The age of the olive trees varies from 40 to 200. The 16,000 trees are spread over 170 hectares (420 acres) and carefully spaced to provide enough soil to nourish each one, creating a dotted patchwork over the hillsides.

In Priego, be sure to visit the 16th century Baroque fountain pools set in a shady hollow just off the Calle Rio.

Take a walk through the Moorish old part of town, La Villa, where the walls are covered with hanging potted geraniums, or visit the Church of the Asuncion to see its Rococo chapel with a child in the middle

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