History of Cordoba

Cordoba was greatly shaped by its long Roman presence (Corduba Colonia Patricia was capital of the province Hispania Ulterior Baetica) and later Moslem occupation (Qurtuba became capital of the powerful Ummayad Caliphate). Both left their monuments and personality. The following is a timeline of Cordoba from its pre-history until the years leading up to the final conquest of Moorish Spain by Isabel and Ferdinand in 1492.

Cordoba Pre-History 
300,000-35,000 BC (Lower Paleolithic Era) Rudimentary stone tools made from river stones along Guadajoz, El Genil and Guadalquivir rivers. 100,000 BC Neanderthals in Palma del Rio. “Homo fossilis Cordubensis” Neanderthal skeleton found–its late dating may indicate co-habitation with homo sapiens sapiens. Upper Paleolithic: no known archeological findings in near city-remains found in southern province Subética Mountains 4000 BC Neolithic Cave Culture
– agriculture, herding, stone weapons in Subética mountain range (Zuheros, Priego, Rute)
– skull of first “Cordobés” found in Zuheros (Archeological Museum)
– cave art in Zuheros, Priego, Rute and Doña Mencía 3000 BC Influx of peoples from eastern regions (Almeria)
– appearance of small, fortified urbs and latifundios
– ca 1500 BC small village established in “La Verdad” neighborhood
– economy: copper mining, herding, farming
– dolmens built by local kings (Dolmen de la Silera) and land owners
– smooth ceramics, copper knives.
– The Montilla Treasure (National Archeological Museum)
– The Cup of Fuente Palmera (Archeological Museum)
  The Iberians in Cordoba 
7th Century BC
– Influx of Indoeuropeans: Punic, Carthaginian and Greek influences arrive from Gades (Cádiz)
– Iberian towns: Ategua (ruins north of Espejo), Castro Viejo, Izcar, Iponuba (ruins south of Baena), Torremorana, Ucub (Espejo), Ipagro(?), Monturque
– Stellas (Ategua)
– Painted, geometrically decorated cups (Archeological Museum)
– Iberian sculptures (Archeological Museum)
  Romans (760 years in Cordoba)
– Via Augusta road crosses Roman bridge SW to Gades (Cádiz) and north to Fons Mellana (Fuente Ovejuna), continuing to Emerita (Mérida).
– Pax Romana: centuries of peace and prosperity. Agriculture and olive oil trade. mining.
– Architecture: Roman bridge, Temple of Augustus, Cercadilla Palace, Roman Theatre, Funerary Monuments, Roman Walls, Aqueduct
– Art: abundant columns, capitals, mosaics, sculptures and ceramics
    Roman Atlas of Baetica Pliny’s Natural History
Cordoba During the Republic
206 BC Battle of Ilipa leaves Romans in control of Guadalquivir River Valley.
200 BC Lucio Mario takes control of primitive Iberian town? Archeological traces of Roman presence in town.
175 BC Construction of walls, buildings. Possible layout of city.
169/168 BC or 152/151 BC: Claudio Marcelo founds walled colonia latina (?) of Corduba, inhabited by chosen local people and Romans.
149 BC Viriato lays seige to Cordoba.
ca 100 BC Pre-Roman settlement east of Cordoba abandoned. Building of monuments in new city.
113 BC historical references made to forum in Cordoba.
76 BC Earthquake hits Cordoba.
49 BC Caesar meets in Cordoba with leaders of other Roman cities who had united with him against Pompey. Plants commemorative platanus tree.
45 BC Cordoba taken by Pompey and attacked unsuccessfully by Caesar, who fights Cneo in Montemayor and re-conquers Ategua. Battle of Munda (Montilla?). Caesar re-takes Cordoba, destroying it and causing 22,000 casualties.
– City comes into favor again under emperor Claudius
– Construction of imperial cult temple (dedicated to Claudius?)
15 BC Construction of theatre begins.
13 BC First coins minted printed with Colonia Patricia
4 BC Birth of Seneca, philosopher who committed suicide after being condemned to death by Nero.
27 AD Territorial reorganization: Corduba designated Colonia Patricia and capital of Hispania Ulterior Baetica.
Cordoba under the Empire (39 AD-6th Century AD)
39 AD – Birth of Marco Anneo Lucano, poet and nephew of Seneca. Committed suicide after unsuccessfully conspiring against Nero.
ca 175 Dismantling of eastern circus.
ca 215 Inscription commemorates theatrical representations, gladiator games (amphitheatre) and races in the circus in Cordoba.
ca 262 Earthquake destroys theatre.
269 Severo becomes first bishop of Cordoba
294 Osio becomes bishop of Cordoba. Advises Emperor Constantine.
294-296 Construction of Palatium Maximiani in Cercadilla neighborhood.
4th Century Transformation of city: certain streets abandoned, Provincial forum occupied with houses, temple dismantled. Appearance of Christian basilicas and places of worship.
  Visigoths (150 years in Cordoba)
-Visigoths have relatively short span of rule in Cordoba, which retains much of its Roman identity.
-Christian basilicas appear (Santa Clara, San Vicente) in mid 5th Century.
409 Vandals, Suevos and Alanos invade Spain.
458-9 Visigoths expell other Germanic tribes from Spain. Cordoba maintains independence from Visigoth government in Toledo and Byzantine imperial government.
550 In battles between Visigoths and Byzantine Empire, Agila attacks Cordoba and is defeated.
584 Leovigildo takes Cordoba in civil war against his son, Hermenegildo. Cordoba loses autonomous status and lives 150 years of Visigoth rule.
  Islamic Cordoba (525 years): The Moors in Al-Andalus
– Reconstruction of Roman bridge, Alcazar. Construction of Al-Rusafa, Aljama or Great Friday Mosque, Medina al-Zarhara (936), Albolafia Water Mill (1136),
– Capital of Ummayid Caliphate, which makes Qurtuba the leading economic, political and cultural center of Europe during the so-called Dark Ages.
– Great Mosque the culmination of Islamic Architecture in Spain
The Emirate of Damascus (711-756) 
711 – Tariq leads a group of Moslem soldiers on the conquests of Spain, disembarking near Gibraltar. His lieutenant, Mugit, conquers Cordoba from Visigoths. 400 Visigoth men besieged outside city in St. Acisclo church for 3 months.
716 – Emir al-Hurr makes Cordoba his administrative center.
Independent Ummayad Emirate (756-929)
756 Abd al-Rahman I defeats and deposes the emir of Al-Andalus.
785 Construction of Alcazar begun.
786 Construction of Great Mosque begun.
788 Construction of one of the oldest known mosques in Cordoba, still evident in Santiago Church.
818 Revolt against al-Hakam I and razing of Saqunda neighborhood on south bank of river. 20,000 exiles.
848 Abd al-Rahman II’s expansion of Great Mosque completed.
ca 900 Construction of mosque on site where San Juan de los Caballeros church now stands (Minaret still stands).
  Ummayad Califate (929-1031)
929 Abd al-Rahman III proclaims himself Caliph, beginning Cordoba’s era of maximum political, economic and cultural hegemony.
936/941Construction of palace city Madinat al-Zahra’ (Medina Azahara) on western outskirts begins. Within a few years government is transfered there.
941 Great Aljama Mosque built
2nd half 10th C Period of maximum urban expansion.
-Construction of minaret of mosque on site of present San Lorenzo church (partially conserved).
962-965 al-Hakam II’s expansion of Great Mosque. Construction of mihrab and maqsura present today.
979-981 Building by Almanzor of new city, Madinat al-Zahira, outside of Corodba (east?).
988 Almanzor’s expansion of Great Mosque to present dimensions.
1009-1031 Civil war. Breaking up of Caliphate into Taifa Kingdoms. Destruction of Medina al-Zahira, Medina Azahara.
  Taifa Kingdoms (1031-1091)
1069 The taifa king of Seville annexes Cordoba.
1075 Cordoba taken by the taifa kingdom of Toledo.
1078 Cordoba re-taken by Seville.
Almorávide Period (1091-1147)
1091 Cordoba becomes part of Almorávide empire
1136 Construction of the Albolafia water mill
Almohade Caliphate (1147-1236)
1162 Cordoba becomes capital of al-Andalus again, leading to urban renewal: fortress on south bank of river, Arab baths and rebuilding of walls.
1236 Ferndinand III, King of Castille and Leon, conquers Cordoba.
  Christian Cordoba (1236-1475) 
2nd half XIII Century – construction of churches and monasteries in city.
1315 Construction of Synagogue.
1328 Alfonso XI completes initial work on reform of Alcazar.
2nd half XIV – Alcazar re-enforced. Inquisition Tower completed.
1369-1386 Wall completed around Alcazar garden. Perhaps Calahorra Tower also built at this time.
1391 Jewry assaulted. At this time the walled southwestern portion of the city, called the Jewry Castle.
1404 Malmuerta Tower built along the northwestern Ajerquía walls.

SourcesCórdoba Capital, vol. 1, editor Emilio Cabrera, Caja Provincial de Ahorros de Córdoba, 1994 (out of print). Guía Arqueológica de Córdoba, editor Disiderio Vaquerizo Gil, Plurabelle, 2003. Islamic Spain (Architectural Guides for Travellers), Godfrey Goodwin, Penguin Books, 1991 (out of print).

Biographical Index for Cordoba Spain


Christopher Columbus and Cordoba

The Historical Context of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba