La Ribera means riverbank, similar to riviera in French.
When you search Córdoba, Spain, on Google, the Guadalquivir riverside and its famous UNESCO Roman bridge and Mezquita dominate most of the images and for good reason too.
It is the heart of Córdoba and is a spectacularly beautiful site which never gets old or boring to me. It looks pleasant on photos but no justice is done compared to actually being there and taking it in with your own eyes. The sound of the river streaming past with bats swirling overhead and the sunset behind the Mezquita makes for a truly stunning setting.
So I will start with the architecture (before moving on to the bars, restaurants and festivals!).
The Mezquita and Roman bridge are the standout stars here; I will write the detailed blog post the Mezquita deserves soon but here is some information on the Roman bridge, or Puente romano as it is known in Spanish.
The bridge crosses the Guadalquivir river and was originally built by the Romans in the 1st century BC. 500 years later, the Moors decided to build over and expand the ruins where they incorporated 16 arches to reflect the Islamic architecture seen across the city.
It is thought that the Roman bridge formed a part of the Via Augusta which was a route connecting Rome to Cádiz (due to the latter being an important port).
It was restored in 2006, leaving only the 14th and 15th arches as originals.
At the North End of the bridge, there is the Puerta del Puente (bridge gate) which is a Renaissance style gate to the city, commissioned in 1572 by Córdoba’s mayor. It was rebuilt in 1928 under the reign of Rey Alfonso XIII and has also been restored back in 2005.
You can walk to the top of the Puerta del Puente to see the views and take a quick picture for 1 euro.
At the south end of the bridge is the Calahorra Tower which was built by the Moors to keep a look out and protect the bridge.
In the 17th century, a statue of Córdoba’s patron saint the archangel San Rafael was erected in the middle of the bridge. There are red votive candles you can light in memory of a loved one. The statue was commissioned to show gratitude for the ending of the plague that had wiped out so many Córdobeses.
Córdoba celebrates its Día de San Rafael on the 24th October each year (and I get a day off work!).
“The sound of the river streaming past with bats swirling overhead and the sunset behind the Mezquita makes for a truly stunning setting…”
A little bit further along lies a Roman water wheel (will add a photo when I am back in Córdoba in two weeks’ time).
The beautiful backdrop of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is used as one of the stages on La Noche Blanca del Flamenco, Córdoba’s annual night of flamenco shows staged across the city.
As I said, this view never gets tiresome so watching flamenco with hundreds of spectators on a hot June night with the Mezquita illuminated behind is really quite something: (photo does not do justice as I took it on a temporary rubbish phone I was using)
The view is amazing by day but I think seeing it all lit up at night is even more special.
The best place to take in this view (in my opinion) is from the roof terrace bar at the Hotel NH Córdoba Guadalquivir which is a fabulous bar serving all sorts of spirits and cocktails with a sort of beach bar vibe only overlooking a river not the sea.
This photo was taken from that very roof terrace:
Right, now on to the other significant feature along La Ribera- the bars and restaurants.
This is where some of Córdoba’s more upmarket restaurants are located but they aren’t necessarily expensive.
Yes, they tend to be pricier than your usual tapas bar or taberna but you get much more modern, plush interiors and more experimental and luxurious food/wine. In comparison to other cities, a ‘posher’ meal in Córdoba along the riverbank really is not much at all.
You can expect to pay around 35 euros per person for a starter, main and dessert with 2 glasses of wine which is fantastic.
Here is a picture of the outside of Restaurante Amaltea, where I chose to have lunch on my 29th birthday.
This place is beautiful with bright pink and orange walls inside, very modern and only a small number of tables.
Other great restaurants along there include:
- Regadera (gorgeous blue and white decor and great desserts)
- Sojo Fusion (fairylights, jugs of sangria and good steak)
- La Tinaja (tables out on the terrace with cosy little lamps; my parents and I went there for their 30th wedding anniversary)
- Cocina 33 (varied menu with Thai and Japanese influences and a unique customer graffiti wall to leave messages)
- Amapola (more of a bar- excellent cocktails for only 5 euros and great music and DJ sets)
- Agua Verde (cosy little bar with green lighting and lots of beers)
- La Furgo (great music, good food and lots of wines to choose from)
On a healthier note, the ribera makes a good spot for running due to the long and straight pavement and on a hot evening, the slight breeze and spray from the river is a bit more refreshing than elsewhere. Plus, the views help to alleviate the boredom/pains of forcing yourself to go on a run.
Some of the road races I’ve taken part in in Córdoba have included running down the ribera while crowds stand and clap and encourage you with shouts of “¡venga!” (come on!) keep you going.
The Roman bridge was also filmed for ‘Game of Thrones’ as the ‘Long Bridge of Volantis’:
The ribera hosts several cultural festivals throughout the year including the aforementioned La Noche Blanca del Flamenco and the new Ríomundi international experiences festival.
In June this year, a colleague and I took a group of 10 school children along to the ribera with creative writing exercise books to experiment with some inspired writing. What better location to be inspired to write?
My friend Julie once said to me “it is great when you think that we live just minutes away from this impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site” and it is true.
As I am from Liverpool, I am lucky to have grown up with impressive structures such as the Anglican Cathedral and the Three Graces but it is still somewhat of a novelty to me to live near something like the River Guadalquivir, Roman Bridge and Mezquita due to its Roman, Moorish and Spanish influences, carrying so much history and beauty fused with the trendy, modern vibe of its new bars and restaurants.
If you have only one day in Córdoba whilst passing through Andalucía (although I do recommend that you try to spend at least 3 days here!) then the ribera is the city’s main tourist draw along with the Mezquita so definitely would not and should not be missed.
What is your favourite bar or restaurant along the ribera?
Do you prefer the views during the day or at night?
Leave your comments in the box below.