artificial light from thousands of small oil lamps.
Not to be missed is a stroll around the elegant Old Town Square, as well as the museum devoted to Julio Romero de Torres, whose paintings are displayed in a 16th-century hospital in the Plaza del Potro. The sensuality of Córdoba is, in many ways, embodied in the seductive women painted by this early 20th-century artist.
A particularly lovely time to visit Córdoba is in May, when the city holds its Patio Festival. The competition, held among the white-washed courtyards of the old quarter, is designed to find the best of the spectacular patios, decorated with the abundant local flora. Grabbing its coat tails is a balcony and windows competition. won last year by a house with four balconies overflowing with pink, crimson and violet geraniums.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in Córdoba was finding a hotel that I was deeply saddened to leave. El Palacio del Bailío, a Design Hotel and the city’s only five-star hotel, has been created inside a 16th-century Andalusian palace in the heart of Córdoba’s historic quarter. It has restored coach houses and stables, as well as a breathtaking Moorish garden adorned with Tuscanstyle 18th-century murals and marble fountains shaded by orange trees. The first-floor corridor had enormous starburst chandeliers and sumptuous sofas tucked cleverly into wall enclaves, while the room was a nother del i ght, all high ceilings, pale decor, exposed brick walls, and dark wood furnishings. Who would want to leave this sanctuary of sensuality, except to visit the spa (Ayurvedic massage, plantar reflexology, holistic balancing facial and more) or the Senzone Restaurant — for once a gourmet treat in a hotel. And — even more surprising — a fine, kosher 2002 Flor de Primavera from the Montsant region of Tarragona on the wine list.
A bedroom in the El Palacio del Bailio
The arched pillars in the eighth-century mosque which became a cathedral after the Moors left Spain