Another wonderful surprise on our tour around Argentina: Córdoba. The country’s second largest city is full of rich colonial heritage, monumental ‘fin de secle’ architecture and lush green parks. However, what struck us the most were the city’s fascinating open spaces: an ex convent converted into a cultural center, a huge concrete ramp built for sliding and picnic and an ex industrial neighborhood rebuilt for arts and crafts with stylish bars and designer shops. Not to mention that gorgeous mountains, rivers and lakes surround the city!
This post will help you organize 2 days in Córdoba, Argentina
Day 1 Colonial Córdoba and City Center
Founded in 1553, Córdoba is one of Argentina’s oldest cities and one of Spain’s first colonial capitals in the Americas. The majority of Cordoba’s landmarks are located inside the large city center. The area is roughly limited by River Cañada on the west, River Suquía on the north and east and Av. Pueyrredón and Sarmiento Park on the south. It is full of beautiful architecture and lively pedestrian streets. The most distinguished colonial buildings include the 17th century Jesuit Block, the Cathedral and the Cabildo (seat of the colonial government). The nicest neoclassical buildings are the Provincial Government and the Courthouse.
The wonderfully restored Jesuit Block, world heritage site, is home to the Domestic Chapel, the National College of Montserrat, the Library Mayor, the Jesus Company Church and the Residence. The original headquarters of the University of Cordoba, one of the oldest universities in America, are here too. The first Jesuits arrived in Córdoba in 1589, although they officially established their base in 1599. There was no Argentina at the time, but a largely unpopulated area. Actually, Córdoba was part of the Jesuit province of Paraguay. They believed Córdoba was the best place to spread Christianity in the region.
Cathedral of Córdoba
The temple dominates the main square (San Martin), the geographical center of the city. Córdoba’s main church is the Our Lady of the Assumption Church or the Cathedral of Córdoba. Construction of the temple began in 1582, but in 1677 most of the original structure collapsed. As you will see, the majestic Baroque façade matches perfectly the richly decorated interior. Go inside and prepare to be dazzled: the silver altar crafted in Peru and the decorated dome are exquisite. As you can imagine, the tombs of several prominent Argentineans are inside the Cathedral.
Day 2 Contemporary Architecture and Parks
As much as we loved walking about Cordoba’s beautiful city center we were overwhelmed by the amount of cool new sites. We loved the interesting architecture of the Centro Cívico del Bicentenario, Emilio Caraffa Museum and the usability of the fabulous Giant Slide – Cordoba Cultural Centre. Yes, architectural works should be pretty, but above all useful! Additionally Córdoba houses several brilliantly executed Urban Rehabilitation Projects. Our favorites are the Paseo de Los Artes in the bohemian Güemes neighborhood (ex factory) and cultural center Paseo del Buen Pastor (ex convent).
Córdoba Cultural Center
Without a doubt, our favorite sight is the spectacular Córdoba Cultural Center. The large concrete structure houses the city’s historic archive and an auditorium. What caught our eye was the giant slide on the roof and the elegant twisting tower. In a wise move, the city government chose the design following an architectural contest. The winning proposal incorporated the surrounding area into a simple shape. The result? A nice elegant building that is at the same time a very popular playground. When we visited, the entire place was booming with activity, kids were sliding, and families were having lunch. Of course, we couldn’t resist and down we came sliding.
While Córdoba Province boasts some outstanding hills and mountains, inside the city there only a handful of small parks and river promenades. On the other hand, south of the center lays Cordoba’s green epicenter: the enormous Sarmiento Park. We liked it so much, that we stayed there for hours. It was wonderful to just stroll around and people watch; it seems that the locals use it as an open air living room! We had lunch in a small kiosk right in the middle of the park. And then we walked by the gorgeous Hipólito Yrigoyen Avenue to get back to our hotel.
Where to Stay in Córdoba
The city is big and doesn’t have metro, though there is an efficient bus system. However, the historical core, downtown, is the best place to stay. Therefore, we stayed at the strategically located NH Panorama in the center, by the River Cañada. It offers great service, comfy rooms, and views over the river. The weather was superb so we walked almost everywhere. There are tones of coffee houses, restaurants and bars to chill and grab a bite too. Other great hotels in the area are the Caseros 248 Hotel, the Windsor Hotel and Tower and the Azur Real Hotel Boutique.
Cordoba’s nightlife happens pretty much everywhere. As we were telling you, it’s a student city thus very lively. The area around Güemes neighborhood and Marcelo T. de Alvear Avenue is packed with bars. Remember that Argentineans party late. It all begins with dinner, followed by drinks and at 2AM dancing. We went out to dinner at one of the restaurants on Dr. T. Achával Rodríguez Street in Güemes. Then we went partying to Zen, Cordoba’s best gay disco. We danced the night away! The disco has a nice open lounge, two dance floors, and a restaurant.
How Many Days in Córdoba?
Unfortunately, we only spent 2 days in Córdoba. Thus we feel we barely scratched the surface. If you have just one day, you should explore the historical center and visit one or two contemporary museums/districts. If you have at least an extra day in Córdoba, maybe you can go on a day excursion. Apparently, La Cumbrecita and Punilla Valley are fabulous. We will have to go some other time!
We took an overnight bus from San Juan Province and could see how green the province is. It is our one recurrent problem: time. No matter how long we stay in a place, there’s never enough time! Guess we will have to go back.