Citrus fruit orchards, fountains and Moorish architecture lend an Arabian feel to this ancient city on the banks of the Guadalqivir, once a rival to Baghdad and Damascus as a center of Islamic learning and culture. Cordoba’s mosque-cathedral is one of the wonders of Spain, and the sight of its striped horseshoe arches delicately tapering off into the shadows is a joy to behold. 

Equally delightful are the tiled, typically Andalusian patios, filled with geraniums and jasmine, lurking beyond every doorway of the old quarter. Just outside the city are the lovely ruins and gardens of the Madinat Al-Zahra, a palace for generations of Moorish rulers. You can find out more about Moorish Cordoba at the Museum of Al-Andalus Life, beside the Roman Bridge.

Also worth exploring is the Jewish Quarter. Full of riverstone cobble, and narrow, blossom-filled streets, it features   one of Spain’s best-preserved synagogues, dating back to 1315, and a museum – Casa de Sefarad – interpreting life in a medieval Jewish community in Spain.