The Ultimate Guide to visiting the Alcazar of Cordoba

alcazar of cordoba gardens

Whilst visitors flock to Cordoba to admire the famous Mesquita, the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is not yet on every tourists’ Cordoba to do list. The Alcazar in Cordoba is an exquisite place which you must visit whilst you are in Cordoba. Full of grand water features, beautiful flower gardens, torture chambers, roof top views and buckets of history. This is the ultimate guide to the history and planning your visit to the Alcazar in Cordoba.

Table of contents

What is the Alcazar of Cordoba?

The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos also known as Alcazar of Cordoba is a spectacular fortress in the heart of Cordoba. Located in the picturesque San Basilio district, there are beautiful gardens to explore full of incredible water features and lovely flower displays. Inside the fortress you can explore ancient Moorish baths which were also torture chambers. Finally, you can enjoy one of the best views of Cordoba from the battlements. The Alcazar of Corodoba must be on your Cordoba to do list. Read on for the ultimate guide to visiting Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba.

The History of the Alcazar of Cordoba

The Alcazar of Cordoba known as the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (castle of the Christian monarchs) was built in medieval times next to the Guadalquivir River and close to the Grand Mesquita. Before the Alcazar of Cordoba was built, a Visigoth fortress stood in its place. After several occupations the fortress was expanded. By 1235 the Alcazar boasted beautiful gardens, luxurious baths and impressively the largest library in the west. The baths and gardens were made possible by watermills on the nearby river.

In 1236 the Christian forces conquered Cordoba. These new owners expanded the Alcazar into the palace you see today. Whilst its inhabitants were Christian, they maintained the Mudejar architectural style of the Moors.

Some of the Alcazar of Cordoba’s most notable inhabitants include Isabella the 1st and Ferdinand of Aragon. They ruled fiercely, establishing the Spanish Inquisition and using the fort as the headquarters for their campaign against the still Muslim Granada. The baths were changed into torture and interrogation chambers. Isabella and Ferndinand also met Christopher Columbus before he travelled to the Americas in the Alcazar of Cordoba. 

During the 19th century, the Alcazar served as a garrison for Napoleans troops. After that it became a prison. Finally, in the 1950s the Alcazar was proclaimed and national monument. Since then, it has become a major tourist attractions. Today it forms part of Cordoba’s UNESCO heritage sites.

Opening Times of the Alcazar of Cordoba

Make sure you check the opening times of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. The opening times change depending on the seasons. Also please take special care if you visit the Alcazar de lost Reyes Cristianos in summer time as the opening hours are much shorter and they close on Mondays. You can find the opening times of the Alcazar of Cordoba below:

Opening Times for Winter (September 16th to June 15th )

  • Tue to Fri 08.30 to 20.45 hrs
  • Sat 08.30 to 16.30 hrs
  • Sun 08.30 to 14.30 hrs

Opening Times for Summer (June 16th to September 15th)

  • Tue to Sat 08.30 to 15.00 hrs
  • Sun 08.30 to 14.30 hrs
  • Mondays Closed
  • Last entrance 30 mins before close.

Ticket prices of the Alcazar of Cordoba

Compared to the Alcazar in Seville or the Alahambra in Granade, the ticket prices for the Alcazar of Cordoba are much cheaper. You can see the current ticket prices of the Alcazar de los Reyes below.

Adult Price: 4,50 Euro

Children and under 14’s: free

Best time to visit the Alcazar of Cordoba

The best time to visit Alcazar is in May or October. In May the famous patio festival takes place in Cordoba. For those who prefer fewer crowds, October is an excellent time to visit Cordoba. If you do find yourself in Cordoba during the summer months make sure you keep hydrated and bring a hat. Whilst there are plenty of shady spots in the Alcazar of Cordoba, the gardens are quite exposed. Either cover up or wear sun cream.

What should you wear to the Alcazar of Cordoba

Unlike a cathedral or mosque there is no dress code for visiting the Alcazar of Cordoba. Wear something comfortable for wondering around gardens and climbing a few stairs up to the Lion Tower. A long summery dress is perfect for girls and a shirt with shorts is great for males. Also remember to wear good walking shoes for the dusty paths and uneven inside.

How long should you spend at the Alcazar of Cordoba?

You could spend between 1.5 to 3 hours wondering around the beautiful Alcazar of Cordoba.

Best things to see in the Alcazar of Cordoba

There are many lovely things to see in the Alcazar of Cordoba. The gardens are the most impressive but the interior also delights visitors. Here is a list of the sites you must see whilst you are visiting the Alcazar of Cordoba.

The Gardens of Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

The gardens of the Alcazar of Cordoba are some of the finest in Andalucia. The gardens have been divided into the Upper Garden, the Middle Garden and the Lower Garden. Originally this space was the old Alcazar orchard. Yet it has now been transformed into a lush paradise. The gardens boast elegant fountains and a wide variety of tress such as palm, cypress, orange and lemon trees.

The fountains are particularly impressive. You may have to queue to get your perfect Instagram shot at the Alcazar of Cordoba!

You will also enjoy the various plant displays and flowers.

For those who wish to avoid the fierce sun in the lower gardens, the upper garden offers a shady respite.

The King’s Walk in Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

The King’s walk (El paseo de los reyes) is a walk bordered by a line of cylindrical cypress trees and is also divided into two paths by two narrow ponds. On this walk, there are several sculptures of the Kings who built the Alcázar, which are located on pedestals aligned between the hedges.

Courtyard of the Alcazar of Cordoba

The courtyard is a wonderfully symmetrical space. You can see lovely ponds and enter the Moorish baths through the courtyard.

Moorish style baths in the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

The Moorish style baths can be found on the ground floor of the Alcazar of Cordoba. There are a few different rooms which all served a different purpose. The first room you will enter is the changing room. The next three rooms are: the Cold Room, the Warm Room and the Hot Room. It is hard to imagine water there now but as you look up at the star shaped skylights you imagine this would have been very relaxing. Yet these rooms have not only been the place of comfort but also of torture! These chambers were used by the Spanish inquisition for several years.

Tower of the Lions

The Tower of the Lions can be found in the North West corner of the Alcazar of Cordoba. Indeed it is the first tower you will enter as it is the visitor entrance to the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos.  This tower dates back to the 13th century making it the longest standing tower in the complex. It is named after the lion gargoyles which can be found on the top of the structure.

Battlements on the Alcazar of Cordoba

Finally end your trip to the Alcazar of Cordoba by wondering on the battlements and admiring the view of Cordoba! There may be a queue to go to the roof as they limit the amount of visitors allowed up there at one time. Also very small children will not be allowed to access the battlements due to the low walls. However if you do wait in line, you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the city of Cordoba.

Would you like to visit the Alcazar of Cordoba?

Alcazar of Cordoba girl

Have this inspired you to visit the Alcazar of Cordoba or helped you plan your trip to the Alcazar de Los Cristianos Reyes? Let us know in the comments below!

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12 Replies to “The Ultimate Guide to visiting the Alcazar of Cordoba”

  1. When I was in Cordoba, it was 41 degree in the summer time. I looked around the town and wanted to see Alcazar, it was too late to get in. It was a pity that I could not see this wonderful place. At least, I “visit” this place through your post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I feel silly to have to say, that I had no idea where Cordoba is, and I had to google it. Of course, later in the article I found that out anyway.. ha ha. Looks so beautiful and I wish I get to explore more Spain soon.

  3. Seems a thorough overview of the attraction!

  4. What a brilliant article! I am planning to spend a few days there next month and will follow in your footsteps and take a bite-sized look at Cordoba. You’ve certainly whetted my appetite for it. Thanks again and happy traveling.

  5. I keep trying to get to Cordoba but so far have never managed it for a variety of reasons (although I did visit the one in Argentina a few years ago). It’s been on my list for a long time now and this has renewed my interest once more. Great article, Anna.

  6. I am in love with the royal palaces of Spain. I have visited the Alcazar of Seville, but have never visited the Alcazar of Cordoba. I was supposed to head to Cordoba, but instead, headed to Granada. I liked how you have detailed every corner of the palace and the gardens with pictures.

  7. Great post. You seem to have captured the essence of Cordoba really well through you photos. Beautiful.

  8. Yukti Agrawal says: Reply

    I love the Alcazar – palaces of Spain as they have influence of Moorish style of architectures too. This Alcazar of Cordoba is grand and has magnificent top views and beautiful gardens. It is good to know that ticket price is not very expensive and kids can enter for free. Thanks for sharing great details and tips.

  9. Yet, another beautiful hidden gem in Spain! The architecture in Alcazar is so beautiful and regal. I love the massive stone buildings that are decorated in small, yet spectacular details. The gardens there are also immaculate. I definitely have to plan a day trip there ASAP.

  10. Wow! What a wonderful place! I had not heard about the Alcazar in Spain prior this article. Your images are enchanting and really make me want to hop on a plain and go there. With the ticket prices it is well worth a visit!

  11. Parnashree Devi says: Reply

    Wow..what a beautiful place. Often this kind of places are overlooked by the tourist. I am glad that you have written about it. Alcazar of Cordoba looks so good. I am a huge fan of gardens and these gardens are absolutely breathtaking. Thanks for introducing me Alcazar. I am definately going to put this on my bucket list.

  12. Alcazar of Cordoba does showcase a lot of tales hidden within its ancient walls. I loved the manicured gardens and your pictures in it. Loved the battlements too. They look quite strong and impressive.

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