The RealWorld Guide to Cordoba
Cordoba isn't well-known outside of Argentina, and it doesn't attract the tourists like Salta or Mendoza, but if you make the journey there, you're rewarded with a vibrant but historic city which is Argentina's real cultural, commercial and political counterweight to the Big Manzana of Buenos Aires...
In fact, Cordoba is one of Argentina's oldest cities, founded back in 1537, and is also home to Argentina's oldest university, as well as having a World Heritage Site Jesuit quarter and several other important historical buildings and museumes.
This rich cultural legacy and university tradition (over 130,000 students now study in the city's various universities) probably help explain why Cordoba has such a vibrant cultural life today. Whether you're into art, music, fashion and design or film, Cordoba will spoil you rotten. The city's young artists and designers are producing some of the most exciting work in Latin America, and certainly the equal of anything coming out of Buenos Aires...
What to See and Do in Cordoba
It makes sense to think about Cordoba as a 'city break' destination, in the same way that you might have a weekend in Madrid or Berlin. So if you plan on taking in a few sights during the day, perhaps a stroll in the park in the early evening, and then enjoy the restaurants and nightlife in the evening, you've probably got things about right...
The Jesuit Quarter
The major historic sight in town is Cordoba's Jesuit Quarter. When a city was founded in the New World, each of the Catholic orders was traditionally allocated one of the blocks, and while other orders usually built a church and a monastery, the Jesuits usually built a church and a school. In Cordoba, these buildings are beautifully preserved and the school, which became the first home of Cordoba's University, is now the University museum.
It won't take more than an afternoon to wander around the Jesuit Quarter, but in a country where much of this history has disappeared, it's a great insight into Argentina's colonial past.
Plaza San Martin
Just to the north of the Jesuit Quarter, the picturesque Plaza San Martin is bordered by two of Cordoba's other important historic buildings. The Jesuit Cathedral, with its incredibly rich interior decoration, including the altar made from silver from the Potosi mines in Bolivia.
Next door to the Cathedral is Cordoba's Cabildo building, which was the administrative centre for the whole province of Cordoba in colonial times. This classic colonial building, completed in 1786, with its covered arcade, chapel and patio, is now the City Museum and should definitely be on your list.
Sarmiento Park and the Evita Museum
To the south-east of the Jesuit Quarter, and on the edge of the centre, the lovely Sarmiento Park provides an oasis of greenery and lakes in the heart of the city. As well as lovely green spaces, the park also contains a small zoo and a swimming-pool, and it's a perfect place to enjoy a late-afternoon or early evening stroll.
On the edges of the park, you also find two of Cordoba's best museums. The Evita Fine Arts Museum is housed in the Beaux Arts Ferreyra Palace, which dates to 1916, and which was controversially remodelled and refurbished to establish the museum in 2007. There's no doubting the quality or range of the exhibits, however, with paintings from Goya and Picasso as well as a fantastic sculpture garden.
Just a block from the Evita Museum, the Emilio Caraffa Museum concentrates more on local artists, but also has works from such luminaries as Tsuguharu Foujita and Picasso.
If you walk west along Achaval Rodriguez from the Evita Museum, on weekend afternoons you'll find the Paseo de las Artes Craft Market just on the other side of the Cañada canal which runs through the city. You'll find some great craft and design work here, and it's highly recommended.
Flights To and From Cordoba
As befits Argentina's second city, there are several flights a day between Cordoba and Buenos Aires, and there are also regular flights to other destinations within Argentina, such as Bariloche, Mendoza, Iguazu and Salta.
Unusually for Argentina, you can also fly direct from Cordoba to a range of international destinations, including Lima in Peru, Santiago in Chile, and both Rio and Sao Paulo in Brazil. There are even seasonal flights to Florianopolis and to Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Road and Rail Links to Cordoba
Cordoba is fully linked into the Argentinian motorway network, and is on a fast road east to Rosario and Buenos Aires, with good links also west to Mendoza and, to a lesser extent, north to Jujuy and Bolivia. There is also a twice-weekly overnight train service to Buenos Aires' Retiro Station, which can be a really nice way to make that particular journey.
Transport Within Cordoba
So long as you're sticking to the historic centre and the nearby Sarmiento Park/New Cordoba area, everything is very walkable. Although there are plans for a Metro system, at the moment public transport consists of a large bus network but you are unlikely to need to use it.
Weather & Climate in Cordoba
Cordoba's climate is extremely varies, with four pronounced seasons that bring very different conditions.
In spring (September-early November) conditions are extremely variable: days are generally cool and dry, but punctuated with occasional short heat waves, ending in sometimes violent thunderstorms. The weather usually becomes more settled as you move into summer from late November onwards, with very warm days (usually around 30°C) and sticky nights, punctuated by thunderstorms which ease the humidity temporarily.
Many people find the autumn the best time to visit Cordoba, with conditions between March and May still warm but much drier and without the humidity of summer. Winter (June-September) is also very dry, and if you're happy with temperatures of around 15-18°C in the day, then this is also generally a good time to visit Cordoba.
Tailor-made Tours of Cordoba
All our holidays in Argentina are 100% tailormade, so if you'd like to incude a tour of Cordoba in any of the itineraries you see above, or just start from scratch then get in touch and let us know - we'll be delighted to help you plan your perfect trip to Cordoba!
Did you know?
Cordoba's Jesuit Quarter is just one reminder of the huge influence Jesuit missionaries had on South America in the early years of European colonisation. Cordoba makes a great base for exploring the ruins of the vast Jesuit missions of northern Argentina and Paraguay if you'd like to find out more...