Traveling in Spain with kids – Cordoba

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Cordoba is a large modern city with an historical old city that dates back to the Middle Ages when it was one of the greatest cities in the world. The old city was preserved beautifully and is best explored by foot.

I highly recommend staying at a hotel close to the old city, as it makes the exploring the city so simple. We stayed at Hostal La Fuente (see map below), a very simple but superbly located hotel.

Ronit with the magnificent Mezquita in the background

Ronit with the magnificent Mezquita in the background

The highlight of the visit to Cordoba is the Mezquita – a huge mosque built in the 8th century AD and expanded over time. The building is a testament to the amazing craftsmanship of the rulers of the Iberian peninsula at the time. The building is huge and includes a lovely internal square – the girls loved running around all over the place.

Bordering the Mezquita is the old Jewish Quarter, the real heart of the old city. Take the time to stroll through the alleys and streets – it’s an amazing experience. At the height of the city’s power during the Muslim rule, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony and created one of the most impressive cultures in the western world.

I highly recommend walking along Calle Cairuan just outside the old walls (see map) and then go back in and stroll through Calle Judios to the Cassa de Sefard, the Jewish heritage museum.

Calle Cairuan

Calle Cairuan

Here are some of the old city’s pictures we took along the way:

Another gem off the beaten-track is Palacio Museo de Viana (see map) – a beautiful 17th century villa with a dozen gardens. We spent a couple of hours exploring the villa and gardens, which the girls loved most:

Finally, if you are interested in Flamenco, you can book a show at Tablao Flamenco Cardenal (see map). It’s a touristy show, but if you can’t make it to Seville for a real Flamenco performance (at Museo del Baile Flamenco), this is a decent alternative.

Map of Corodba point of interest mentioned

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Traveling in Spain with kids – La Mancha

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On our way from Toledo to Cordoba we stopped over at Consuegra, in the La Mancha Province. Consuegra, like other small towns and villages in Castilla – La Mancha, claims that the famous Don Quixote fought the windmills there. You’ll have to ask Cervantes about this… but it definitely fits the bill 🙂

Don Quixote's windmill?

Don Quixote’s windmill?

The town is located less then an hour’s drive south east of Toledo, and other then the windmills on the hill there isn’t much to see. But the windmills are spectacular against the La Mancha plains and there is also a restored castle to visit.

Here are some photos we took of the windmills – definitely worth the visit if you are in the area!

The town has no other attractions, but the elders meeting in the town’s main square/park provide some good photo opportunities:

Map:

Traveling in Spain with kids – Toledo

Toledo is a beautiful, romantic and mysterious town, perched on a hill above the river Tagus. The city’s history spans centuries from the Roman time, through Muslim conquest to the Middle Ages and beyond. The old city’s streets are narrow and winding, inviting you to explore it.

We spent two days in Toledo in September 2012, after the tourist season was over, and the crowds were gone. Since the old city is small, walking and seeing the sites with kids is simple and fun.

We drove from Madrid early in the morning and made it to Toledo quickly (less then 2 hours). I recommend parking inside the old city at Garaje Santo Tome (see map below), located in the middle of the old city.

The old city’s streets are mostly narrow cobblestone streets, as you will quickly discover after parking. There is very little car traffic which is perfect for strolling along with the kids.

Cobblestone alley in Toledo

Cobblestone alley in Toledo

Here are a few more pictures we took of the streets of Toledo:

Close to the parking garage there is a nice coffee shop – Cafe Delfin. Good for a morning stop over after the drive from Madrid…

We then made our way through the narrow streets to the Toledo Cathedral, a massive building dating back to the Middle Ages, considered the “spiritual heart of the church in Spain”.

After a long historical visit to the Middle Ages cathedral, an afternoon lunch was in order. Spanish local food is a must of course – and we had a great lunch at Gambrinus restaurant on Calle Santo Tome (see map below). The local Tapas dishes were perfect (although not necessarily for kids and definitely not for vegetarians… ).

The following day we visited Zocodover Plaza, the main plaza in the old city, and started off with a city tour in a miniature train-car that included a ride to the hills outside the city where you can take in amazing views of Toledo (see map below for vista point if you rather drive there). For kids this is a terrific ride, and for adults there are headphones and a guided tour provided in about 10 languages. The tour starts and ends at Zocodover Plaza. Here are some of the views you can take in from the train:

We ended our visit to Toledo with a stroll through the little alleys and squares of the city, where the girls ran around and explored things on foot.

Here’s a map of Toledo with pins marking places we visited: