Enjoy our quick guide to Córdoba city, the capital of the Spanish province of Córdoba located in Andalusia.
Córdoba is known to have the warmest summer in Spain as well as in Europe. The average temperature reaches as high as 37 degrees Celsius in July which is also seen in August.
Some of Córdoba’s popular sights include the Alcazar or Fortress, the Calahorra Fort, and the prehistoric Jewish Synagogue which has been turned into a museum.
Moving to Cordoba
Below we feature an expat interview with Paul A. Chynoweth, director at Andalucia Casas who covers the Córdoba city area.
Specifically, we wanted to learn from Paul the many reasons why people considering moving to Spain should choose the Cordoba area and the value for money they can get once they decide to stay permanently.
Paul, thanks for helping our readers. I guess we should start off by asking what would you say would be the advantages to living in Córdoba City compared to other Córdoba towns?
The province of Córdoba, whilst extensive in area, only has two large connurbations with populations over 35.000, namely Córdoba city and Lucena. The population of these two places is 314,000 and 37,669 respectively.
Out of a total provincial population of nearly 800,000 almost 40% live in Córdoba city which is a World Heritage site. It is a a vibrant provincial city full of history dating back to the Romans but its real period of glory was when it became the second most important Moorish city after Damascus (around 10th C). At that time they say the population was circa 500.000 and it was the most important seat of learning in the whole of Europe. The three great religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity lived side by side and in harmony. It is relatively small in size so therefore very easy to get around on foot.
The city is famous for many historical and architectural sites as well as its many pleasant streets, plazas and fountains. In short it has everything needed for day to day living and being the provincial capital, it hosts all the provincial offices. Despite its size it feels much smaller and intimate and offers a quality of life not found in other locations. It has excellent public facilities such as great motorway connections with Sevilla, Málaga and Madrid, has high-speed train connections (AVE) with the rest of Spain and good bus services.
Would the area not suit certain types of people, i.e. are there any possible downsides?
The climate of Córdoba can be very hot during the summer months with temperatures reaching well in excess of 40%. Although this is a very dry climate with little or no humidity, it will not be suitable for all people. Due to the previously mentioned fact that the province has an extensive area with relatively few major centres of population it is quite easy to feel that you are remote from the rest of Spain if you decide to reside in the country. For example, there are not many hospitals and public transport is not always readily available away from the major towns.
What proportion of the local population are Spanish?
Nationally Spain has approximately 10% of its population with origins outside of the country. In Córdoba city and the province too, this figure will be much less (somewhere between 2% and 5% on average) but this will vary depending on certain areas. Although Córdoba city has a large population it is quintessentially Spanish apart from the many foreign tourists that visit all year round.
If you venture out into the province you will find certain areas where there are a higher percentage of foreigners residing, e.g. Iznájar in the south of the province and the area around Priego de Córdoba. It is possible to find small villages here where you would be in the minority if you were Spanish.
What are your favourite things to do in the area?
You are really spoilt for choice with regards to leisure activities in the province. Apart from the usual tourist sights in the towns and cities, there are 3 Natural Parks to choose from. The wonderful areas of outstanding natural beauty offer walking, mountain biking, birdwatching, painting and so much more.
Córdoba city has a very active golf course which is open to non-members and is on the edge of the brooding Sierra Morena where you can hunt, fish, sail and even take a hot air balloon if you wish. To the south of the province you have the largest lake in Andalucía, the pantano of Iznájar and here you can swim, sail, kayak, fish and practice water sports. It even has its own 1Km golden sandy beach and a couple of beachside chiringuitos (restaurants). The River Genil offers white water rafting when the conditions permit. It is also possible to hire bicycles and scooters to make the most of your stay.
Can you give us some insider tips to the best bars or restaurants?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Andalucían lifestyle and in particular in Córdoba city is eating out. There is an endless choice of bars and restaurants irrespective of your food choice but beware, most will be Spanish unlike the Costa del Sol where you will find a greater variety such as Indian and Far Eastern options.
One of the main differences between northern Europe and Andalucía when it comes to eating out is the time. It is normal for lunches to be served between 1400 and 1600 and evening meals in restaurants rarely are served before 2000 and regularly continue until late at night. In the towns and villages of the province you can expect to be served typical local dishes which, if meat based, will tend to be pork.
Seafood is generally available outside the cities but do not ask for seafood on a Monday. In the city itself you really are spoilt for choice with some really well-known restaurants such as Casa Pedro in the Santa Rosa district, Casa Pedro and El Caballo Rojo in the old Jewish Quarter (Judería) and La Gamba del Oro (seafood) not far from the main railway station.
If steaks are your thing then you simply must visit El Rancho Grande on the Carretera de Trassierra. Also of particular interest here is the suckling pig but you will need a huge appetite for both meals. For an inexpensive lunch, look out for “Menu del Día” which is a typical working man’s lunch consisting of a set menu of 3 courses with a drink and bread and normally available for between 7,00€ and 10,00€. They are guaranteed to fill you up and the quality is normally excellent too.
Are there many facilities such as doctors and dentists, shops etc?
Most towns and even some large villages have a health centre with either resident or visiting doctor, a dentist and generally good shopping facilities.
The Spanish state health service is excellent but if you are staying longer than 90 days you may not be able to obtain free health treatment if you are under 65 and are not either employed or self-employed and paying social security. Dental clinics are all private and you pay for whatever treatment you require but generally prices are well below those in the UK.
In the smaller towns and certainly in the villages, the shops tend to be family-run affairs so you will receive a very personal service. Fresh food produce is readily available and Spain has yet to enter the processed food mentality that is so common in the UK these days. Towns also have their own municipal swimming pools which are inexpensive and are normally only open during school summer holidays. These establishments normally have a restaurant available too.
Are there smaller villages nearby that you might also recommend?
The province has many attractive villages and smaller towns (aldeas and pueblos blancos) where time seems to have stood still and the residents are very welcoming and a little suspicious of strangers. Make the effort to converse and you will be amazed how you will be treated like family. There are far too many to name but a few that spring to mind are Priego de Córdoba, Carcabuey, Iznájar, Montoro, Hornachuelo, Cabra, Zuheros, Luque, Baena, Montilla and Puente Genil.
What are the nearest international schools to Cordoba and how good are they?
At the time of writing, there is only one international school in the province, The Colegio Británico de Córdoba.
Here is an excerpt from the Headmaster’s statement:
“We are a fully authorised British school with an educational programme firmly based on the National Curriculum for England and Wales. We first opened our doors to pupils in 1998 and since then we have grown rapidly; today we have 572 pupils on two attractive sites, 500 metres apart, close to the city centre. The school has established itself as an important point of reference in Córdoba providing an education of the highest quality, as set out in our mission statement, to children from 3 years old to university entrance. In the last 4 years, three of our students have gained places in the University of Cambridge, another in the premier music college, Berklee in Boston in the United States as well as the best universities in Spain to study courses with very high entry requirements.”
The school is a member of the National Association of British Schools in Spain.
Is crime in Cordoba an issue for expats?
Crime levels are generally low and it is very safe to walk around most of the towns, villages and the city. However there are certain areas of Córdoba city where it is better not to go just like most large centre of population. In the small towns and villages most people leave their front doors open without having any problems.
Coming onto buying property in Cordoba, what is the market like now in terms of prices going up, or down or staying the same?
The Spanish property market went into freefall in about 2009 and is only just starting to recover. Prices have bottomed out and according to all the financial institutions, prices are now rising about 5% per annum. The inland market is very different from the coastal market where there are so many repossessions. Most property for sale inland tends to be inheritance-based and owners can be quite bullish with regards to prices as they generally do not need to sell.
Is this a good time to buy and are there any repossessions or very cheap properties still available to buy?
Now is a very good time to get on the property ladder for the reasons stated above. Spanish banks are now also starting to lend again even to foreigners. There are many unsold properties in Spain and this contributed to the general collapse in the country’s economy. The choice is huge and ranges from very cheap village houses to luxury villas.
What urbanisations are there and can you describe each one and how they might differ from each other?
To try and list all the urbanizations in the city would probably fill a book so I will list just a small selection.
Urbanization Campo Alegre: Is an older development consisting on detached properties (villas) with private plots. As it is an older development the trees and gardens are mature.
It is located on the edge of the Sierra Morena in Santa María de Trassierra and the city centre is about 4 Kms away. Prices of available properties start at about 200.000€.
Urbanization El Higuerón: Another older development close to Córdoba airport and having wonderful motorway connections. This development is also about 5 Kms from the city centre. Mostly consists of detached villas with individual plots and normally swimming pools. Prices from 100.000€.
Urbanization Campo de la Verdad: Not really an urbanization at all but a barrio of the city. Very close to the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) and city centre. You will fins a mixture of older properties and newer build ranging form inexpensive apartments starting at just over 50.000€ right up to magnificent town houses which have great views over the River Guadalquivir.
Urbanization Torre Blanca: Beside the main road from Córdoba city to Portugal (N432) and just a couple of Kms from the city centre. Mostly individual dwellings of either attached or detached houses. Prices for these start from about 150.000€.
Urbanization Las Quemadas: A very large urbanization close to the university and commercial/industrial estate. Excellent connections with the Córdoba – Madrid motorway. Mostly attached and detached houses. Prices start at about 100.000€
Urbanization Las Jaras: Beautiful development of detached villas set around a lake and on the edge of the Sierra Morena so many pine trees around. Also very handy for the golf club which is just 500m away. Prices start around 150.000€ for the villas but there are several unfinshed new phases where the developer is selling off attached houses for 100.000€. This is a magical place to live being close to the city but yet feels like you way out in the country. You can always buy a plot for about 60.000€ and design your own dream house.
It is also worth mentioning that there are always new developments starting and in progress withing the city limits and these tend to be more modern in appearance and normally a mix of apartments and houses. The apartments would normally have a communal pool, parking and store room.
How much are the typical property prices in Córdoba City for apartments, villas etc?
The answer to this question is there is a huge diversity of property available in the city and the surrounding area.
Let’s take Córdoba city to start with. Córdoba is no different from other large Spanish cites where most of the central properties tend to be apartments but there are also many areas that have individual terraced or semi-detached houses. You will have no problem seeking luxury detached villas if that is what you seek. Apartment prices range from around 70.000€ for a small apartment in good condition and in an attractive barrio and can rise to nearly 500.000€ for a luxury apartment in a period building close to Plaza Tendillas.
If absolute luxury is your thing then why not look at Paseo de Córdoba where you can pay over 1.000.000€ for a top of the range pad with an indoor pool. Budget houses can be found from around 50.000€ if you are prepared to carry out some modernisation. For detached villas within the city in the luxurious barrio of Brillante you can expect to pay anything upwards from 400.000€.
Any tips and advice to people looking to buy in Córdoba City or surrounding area?
Do it now as prices are on the rise again and will never be as low as they have been recently. The golden rule is to make contact with someone who has first-hand experience of the city. In 2006 prices in Córdoba city were the second highest after Madrid. This was because Córdoba ranks very highly as a wonderful place to live if you want to be immersed in history and live the true Andalucian lifestyle.
Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to help our readers with your experiences in Spain. If you want to contact him, you can find his details below.
Paul A. Chynoweth
Andalucia Casas Ltd.
Tel. 01305 510013 (UK)
Mob. (+34) 644534093 (España)
Here is an interesting tourist video on Córdoba.
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