Meet your guide near Cordoba Mezquita, and then head inside its main entranceway – Puerta del Perdon – to discover the site’s history with your guide. Tracing its roots to around AD 600, the impressive monument is believed to have started out as the Christian Visigothic Church of St Vincent before converting to a mosque nearly a century later. In the early 13th century, it was reconverted to a Christian Church, and has stayed that way ever since, although Spanish Muslims still petition to worship inside the Mezquita once again.
After entering through Puerta del Perdon – the monument’s 14th-century Mudejar gateway – stroll through Patio de los Naranjos, a beautiful and shady courtyard that’s adorned with orange trees. Pass beneath the Mezquita’s distinctive striped arches, and then stop for a look at a Renaissance cathedral nave called Capilla Mayor. Added at the request of King Charles V (who instantly regretted it), the nave is one of the Mezquita’s standout features – a striking Christian monument that takes an ironic pride of place inside one of the world’s largest mosques.
Admire the cathedral choir section with its intricately detailed Baroque ceiling, and then amble through the Christian chapels toward the back of the building. See the maksura, a royal enclosure where the Muslim caliphs once prayed, and then gaze in wonder at the mihrab. The 10th-century prayer room drips with ornamentation, with hundreds of gold Byzantine mosaics embellishing its walls.
Having explored the Mezquita with your guide, head outside into the sunny streets of Cordoba, and finish your tour with a leisurely paced walk to one of the city’s patios – the beautiful Moorish courtyards that abound. Sample a glass of local Montilla-Moriles wine, savoring its nutty, sherry-like flavor, and then bid your guide goodbye. Your tour finishes in the courtyard.