LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 37
Page. 54 - 58
By: Rosana Acquasanta
Pictures: Federico Quintana
The city, established in 1573 by Don Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera in the Quizquizacate valley, where the Comechingones Indians ruled, has two faces. On the one hand, the vigorous Córdoba that grows and shapes up with every socio-economic event; on the other, the eternal Córdoba, depository of the culture that awarded greatness to the past. One embraces the other without suffocating it.
Cordoba's colonial aspect is a handful of streets you can tour around leisurely in an afternoon. But this circuit (LUGARES 19) calls for much more than a mere absent minded ride. To go deep into the times when Córdoba was still Spanish you should stay in the heart of the city. The Hotel Panorama strategic location is my favourite as regards lodging: opposite the Cañada (stream), only meters away from the commercial zone and near the historic sites. The best. "Córdoba de la Nueva Andalucía" was the first city of the country to have a university (1622) and is considered the second oldest city of Latin America.
Facing the square the Town Hall, located meters away from the Cathedral, was built in the late XVIII century under the orders of the Marquis of Sobremonte; The important guests and official visitors are received in the Red Room. Marked by fatalism, the Cathedral collapsed twice. It took 200 years to complete it; works began in 1574 and its architectural style combines the catholic and Indian faith reinterpreted in this spectacular building. Visiting it is a must: the carvings and the elaborated gilded paintings that ornament the internal arches of the naves with very high ceilings are amazing.
Down the street that runs parallel to the Cathedral and the Town Hall, you get to the Museum of Religious Art Juan de Tejeda. This was the fist convent in South America to have recluse nuns.
Jorge Bettolli, an architect and expert in history, is an invaluable guide for this excursion -that should be hired in advance - including, besides the information, a visit to the Cathedral's treasures. It's worthwhile.
Meters away from this museum you can find the Church and Convent of the Teresas, also called Carmelitas Descalzas de San José, after the nuns order that lived in the convent since it was established in 1628.
On the opposite side of the San Martín square stands the Obispo Mercadillo Exhibition Center, where contemporary art is exhibited almost permanently. Most of the museums open in the morning and some open in the afternoon but only after the sacred siesta.
The oldest church of the country, Compañía de Jesús, is on Obispo Trejo street. The ceiling is a marvellous work of art in wood with not even one nail, and was painted by the Indians. You should also visit the old convent of Santa Catalina, the Ex Casa de Huérfanas Nobles, the Obispo Salguero museum and the San Roque church, where one of the most beautiful South American pulpits can be found.
The famous school, where Argentinean renown leaders studied, is named Nuestra Señora de Monserrat after the black Catalan virgin, and historically has been a boys school. You may visit it too. You can't miss the historical museum Marques de Sobremonte, with 26 rooms, cannons in the patios and an impressive collection of vintage objects. Its realism and impeccable condition is admiring; a trip to the past if you decide to visit it.
On the way back to the hotel, opposite the well known Suquía stream with a beautiful path that runs within stones and is framed by enormous trees, take 9 de julio street where you can find the Fine Arts Museum Dr. Genaro Pérez. There the most relevant works of painters from Córdoba and the rest of the country are exhibited.
There is more to see, tour, admire in this dynamic city of Córdoba and luckily it takes more than a long weekend to do so.