Cordoba is Argentina’s second city and a key destination on any journey from the south to the north of the country. Mixing 21st century vibrancy with 16th history is Cordoba’s speciality. Whether you’re marvelling at the graceful colonial architecture or revelling in its exhuberant atmosphere, largely provided by students from the city’s seven universities, Cordoba is a compelling place to spend a few days.
The Trundler was feeling pretty lively herself after a very pleasant six hour bus ride from the riverside city of Parana. The seats were wide and comfortable and beef stew and biscuits were served for lunch on the journey. Not very nice, but exciting to be offered food on a bus journey none the less.
Her room at the NH Urbano was bright and light and minutes from the city centre. After a dip in the small rooftop swimming pool, she strode down the Avenida San Juan feeling like she was 21, stopping only to eat the first of many empanadas. There’s a huge range of these nifty Cornish pasty lookalikes on offer here, alongside pizza slices and delicious ice-cream.
The people of Cordoba speak with a sing song lilt, which sounds Italian and at times it feels like Italy, especially in the Mercado del Norte where the excellent delis have salami of all sizes swinging from the ceiling, as well as huge jars of olives.
The Plaza San Martin is Cordoba’s beautiful main square and the setting for the lavishly painted Iglesia de Catedral. Magnificent and impressive, the cathedral took two centuries to build, with work starting in 1577. It’s an uplifting place to visit and a good start to your Cordoba tour. A few doors away is the white arcade of the elegant Cabildo – the town hall. Its inner patios are open to the public and there’s an interesting museum upstairs explaining Cordoba’s history, as well as an airy gallery space. Another stunning highlight, just off Quarte Quiros is the atmospheric Manzana de las Luces – block of enlightenment – once home to the influential Jesuit order and now a Unesco site
Wandering around in the warm sunshine and absorbing Cordoba’s history and culture was an extremely pleasant way to spend the day, with falafel for lunch from a friendly Armenian café at the far end of the market.
Take in Cordoba’s more recent history with a stroll up Avenida H Yrigoyen through Nuevo Cordoba. At number 551, the gracious Palacio Ferrerya, built in 1914 has been converted into an excellent fine-art museum whose 12 rooms spread across three floors are filled with wonderful paintings.
It’s the kind of place that makes art easy to enjoy, with lots of handy benches to sit on and admire the portraits and landscapes tastefully hung.
Afterward, a stroll around the lake in the Sarmiento park led to a very superior sausage sandwich, bought from a street stall and consumed with relish as well as a selection of piquant relishes.
A mango and lemon ice-cream in the Plaza San Martin brought a happy end to the day with the Cathedral wonderfully illuminated just as the daylight faded.
Cordoba is a down-to-earth city, mixing history with present day vitality in a friendly and appealing way. Don’t skip it, even if you’re keen to reach the spectacular scenery of the North.
To reach Cordoba travel by Flechabus from Parana. Tickets costs £15 and are available from the bus station. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, all the destinations are clearly marked and ticket sellers generally do their best to help and inform.