LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Cordoba

Caliphs play among the mosques, minarets and medinas

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

Known for its historic Muslim attractions, Cordoba made the front pages of Spain’s sports papers in June 2014 when flagship club Córdoba CF dramatically gained promotion to La Liga.

It wasn’t so much the fact that the Caliphs hadn’t been in the top flight since 1972 – it was the way they achieved their long-awaited return.

In stoppage time at Las Palmas, the decisive match having been held up as home fans ran on to celebrate, Córdoba ran up the pitch to equalise and grab promotion to La Liga at the very death.

Welcome to Cordoba/Harvey Holtom

Up until then, drama and sensation would hardly be the words best used to describe football in Cordoba. The game here has been defined by mergers and lower-flight football.

The first significant club to emerge here was Racing, founded in 1928 from an amalgamation of Real Córdoba and the local sports club for electromechanics.

Renamed the more Spanish-sounding Club Deportivo in 1940, Córdoba played at the Estadio América until club president José Ramón de la Lastra y Hoces moved them to the stadium he built, Estadio del Arcángel. A monarchist, the president also arranged for his club to assume a royal title, Real Club Deportivo.

Welcome to Cordoba/Harvey Holtom

All in vain. In 1954, Club Deportivo collapsed under a mountain of debt. That same year, Club Deportivo Álvaro, also from Cordoba and in the same third division as their local counterparts, folded as well.

In their place came Córdoba CF, soon based at the Estadio del Arcángel which the City bought from the la Lastra y Hoces estate – the former president had passed away before the bankruptcy.

Just as Club Deportivo had spent most of their history in the Segunda, so Córdoba CF spent six seasons in the Second before a first-time promotion in 1962.

Within a decade, Córdoba CF were back in the Segunda, then plunged further down the league ladder until regaining the Second in 1999.

Bar Santos/Harvey Holtom

By then, the municipality had long decided against any renovation of the crumbling Arcángel and to build a new one nearby. The Nuevo Arcángel hosted its only full international, a last-minute 1-0 win for Spain over Japan in April 2001.

An average crowd of 11,000 gathered here through the 2013-14 season as former Chelsea and Barcelona star Albert Ferrer took Córdoba to a play-off place – then promotion.

After a winless start to their first top-flight season in more than four decades, Córdoba relieved Ferrer of his duties – but even though his replacement Miroslav Djukić failed to keep the Caliphs up, as a city, the tourist mecca of Cordoba had been placed on the football map.

Meanwhile, reserve side Córdoba B were also playing at the Nuevo Arcángel after promotion to the third-flight Segunda B in 2014.

Córdoba failed to return to the Primera at the first time attempt, losing in extra-time to Girona in the play-offs. Each season thereafter, the Blanquiverdes slipped further down the Segunda, then out of it completely in 2019.

With the club facing bankruptcy, let alone third-tier football, Bahraini investment fund Infinity Capital stepped in. Córdoba still had further to drop, however, thanks to a restructure of the lower divisions. Having to face the likes of bakery side Panadería Pulido in the fourth tier,  the Blanquiverdes regained some dignity by winning the southern division by a country mile in 2022. 

The reserves currently play where the seniors train, at the Ciudad Deportiva complex past the eastern outskirts of town.

Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and timings

The nearest major airports to Cordoba are Seville and Malaga, 130km (80 miles) and 166km (103miles) away respectively.

Seville’s San Pablo Airport is 10km (six miles) east of town. EA Airport buses (every 30mins, journey time 35min, €4), runs to city-centre bus hub Plaza de Armas, via Santa Justa station, terminus of the AVE train link with Cordoba (2.5hrs). The AVE train to Cordoba costs around €30 in tourist class if bought online, €20 in the regular AVANT. Both take around 45mins.

taxi (+34 954 580 000) to Santa Justa carries a flat fare of €22-€25 depending on time of day/night.

Malaga Airport is 6km (4 miles) south-west of town, connected by a regular suburban train (€1.65) to María Zambrano main train station, 8mins from terminal 3. A taxi to town carries a minimum fare of €15-€19, plus a €5.50 supplement. Radiotaxi Malaga (+34 627 71 20 30) has a set tariff of €20.

The AVE train from Malaga to Cordoba costs around €40 and takes 50mins. The regular AVANT is around €30 and takes just over an hour. From Madrid Atocha, the AVE or Alvia train takes 1hr 45mins-2hrs, advance singles around €60.

Cordoba train and bus stations are north-west of the centre a short stroll away. The stadium is south-east, by a bend in the Guadalquivir river, and too far to walk. City transport consists of 14 bus routes run by Aucorsa. A single ticket is €1.20 on board, a football special €1.60 on match-day only routes.

For Radio Taxi Córdoba, call +34 957 764 444.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

Bars dot the partly pedestrianised city centre, particularly Plaza Corredera and the streets around the nearby Roman Temple.

Typical is the Taberna Corredera (34 Plaza Corredera), with a year-round terrace and TV football within. Alongside this one big square is a smaller one, Plaza de las Cañas, where Los Chamacos is the place for cheap tapas.

The most famous tapas in town, particularly potato omelette, are served at the Bar Santos (3 Calle Magistral González Francés), where the sport of choice is bullfighting.

For football, particularly Premier League and Celtic games, then O’Donoghue’s is the city’s main Irish pub. Open from 3pm, it’s also convenient for the bus and train stations.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the stadium and city centre

The Cordoba Tourist Office has a comprehensive hotel database.

Easily the closest place to the stadium is the three-star Hotel Averroes, not ten minutes’ walk away. It’s even on the 3 bus route. Renovated in recent years, the Averroes provides a pool and restaurant.

The historic centre of tourist-friendly Cordoba is full of hotels, from restored palaces to backpacker hostels. The Hotel Las Casas de la Judería on the edge of the old Jewish quarter offers four-star poshness, built around several beautiful Moorish courtyards. The restaurant is of equal standing.

The Hotel Restaurante Los Patios is, as its name suggests, built around a number of patios, include a spacious one for terrace dining. Right opposite the Mezquita Tower, it’s a tourist favourite. The nearby Hotel Mezquita is a two-star in a restored townhouse. Round the corner, the Hotel Conquistador is a modern four-star also built around a Moorish patio.

For the budget-conscious, the Hostal el Triunfo is an affordable two-star where guests receive a modest discount in the in-house restaurant, with its local cordobés specialities.