We know little about the origins of Córdoba, although it is clear that its privileged situation on the banks of a broad river surrounded by fertile fields made it an ideal spot for the first prehistoric settlers.
In the mid-2nd century B.C., the Roman city of Corduba was founded by the general M. Claudius Marcellus and established as the capital of Further Spain (Hispania Ulterior). The prosperity enjoyed under the Roman Republic was cut short after Caesar’s victory at the battle of Munda, when the city was sacked as punishment for supporting Pompey. However, the city soon picked up again and in the first years of his reign, the emperor Augustus restored the city’s status as a patrician colony (Colonia Patricia) and settled his elite veteran troops on the surrounding lands.
Under Roman imperial rule, Cordoba enjoyed great prosperity and many important buildings and infrastructures were built. As a sign of the thriving commercial and cultural activity, the city boasted two main forums, the colonial forum and the provincial forum. Huge public buildings were erected, such as the recently-discovered main amphitheatre, as well as lofty temples, such as the one situated in Calle Claudio Marcelo, and superb sculptures adorned the streets.
Centuries later, in the Islamic era, the first Moslem governors named the city Qurtuba and set it up as the administrative capital of the newly-conquered lands. By the reign of Abd al-Rahman III, Córdoba had begun to play a leading role, and in 929 it was proclaimed capital of a new caliphate – free from the jurisdiction of Damascus – and grew into the religious, political and administrative seat of the whole western Moslem empire. However, in June 1236, the conquering Christian armies of Fernando III el Santo arrived at the gates of the city.
Civil war broke out from 1366 to 1369 between the supporters of Pedro I ‘The Cruel’ and those of his illegitimate brother Enrique of Trastámara. In 1349, too, Córdoba was hit hard by the Black Death, and the plague reappeared fifteen years later. The massive death rates, together with shortages of food and money, plunged the city into a profound economic and social crisis.
It was not until the mid-20th century that Córdoba recovered part of its grandeur and the importance it had in the past. The population and the economy grew steadily, and a new university was founded, which enriched the city both artistically and culturally. New buildings were designed and a modern, more cosmopolitan Cordoba began to coexist with its historical heritage. In 1994, the Historic Quarter was declared a World Heritage Site; the Festival of the Courtyards (Patios) was also declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012, a source of pride for all citizens of Córdoba who value the preservation and dissemination of our historical legacy.