After spending five weeks in the capital, I headed North to Cordoba, the second biggest city in Argentina (around 1.5 million inhabitants). I spent here almost 4 weeks.
The region is famous for the capital city and especially for its surroundings. I recommend planning a few days in this part of Argentina that has so many things to offer: amazing views, trekking and climbing paths in the Small Sierras, wineries, old charming cities, monasteries and many other attractions.
Cordoba is an important universitary center, so most people who live here are young. For the same reason the nightlife is amazing! Unlike other universitary cities, Cordoba is great during summer time as well!
In the center you’ll find beautiful churches and other historical buildings, as well as many shops. There are also some good museums that worth being checked out! If you’re there on a week-end, don’t miss the Arts Fair!
I believe that 2-3 days are enough to experience a bit of everything in Cordoba: history, culture, nature and nightlife. If you’re planning to visit the surroundings, some of the main attractions are located close to the capital, so you can organize one-day trips.
Below you’ll find a list of the places and events you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Cordoba. Some of them are included in the “Man-made marvels of Cordoba”.
A. Streets and neighbourhoods
1. Nueva Cordoba
This is the new students’ neighbourhood. Everything is new and well-organized, the buildings look very well and, most importantly, it’s all very safe. It’s easy to notice that the planners had in mind the principles of functional mixity typical to modern urbanism when they designed this borough. You can find stores, coffee shops, restaurants, parks, works of art, hostels, health institutions and gathering places homogenously spread in the area, usually on the first floor of the housing buildings.
It is the first time that I prefer a modern borough to the historical area. I was lucky to live in Nueva Cordoba, so I got to see how comfortable it is to have everything close and accessible! Not to mention the pleasure of being able to walk alone on the street after night fall!
2. City Center
Even though the city center is quite small, there are many attractions. There are a few beautiful churches and other historical buildings that worth a visit, such as the old Cityhall or the Jesuitic Block.
The San Martin Square is an important meeting point where you can listen live music, buy souvenirs and exchange blue dollars.
There are a few pedestrian streets full of clothing stores that you can browse for hours, but you won’t be able to find important brands here. There are also coffee shops and book stores. However, this part of the city is practically dead on Sundays.
3. Universitary City & City of Arts – worth visiting if you’re staying longer
The campuses are interesting to visit from an architectural/urbanistic point of view. The principles of functionalist planning can be easily seen in the general layout, as well as the architectural style and principles specific to the period. There are wide empty spaces between the buildings that aren’t used much, especially during the cold season. There aren’t dorms or other utilities for the students, just the faculties, administration offices, the central pavilion and a cafeteria. I guess it’s pretty dangerous walking alone after dark, especially as the streets aren’t well illuminated.
However, there are some new buildings and installations in the public space that transform the overall appearance. It’s also interesting to see students interacting.
Sometimes they organize concerts or parties in some of the pavilions. And you can always participate to free cultural events in the City of Arts.
B. SHOPPING & FAIRS
People from Cordoba take their shopping seriously, so if you’re a shopping addict you’ll have plenty of places to shop.
The most expensive stores are located in the malls. Paseo de los Olmos and Paseo del Buen Pastor are the most popular and they worth a visit. Both malls located close to the city center are places of gathering, so you’ll always see people hanging out here.
In Nueva Cordoba there are some exclusive designer stores, as well as medium-priced stores that you can also find in the city center. The cheapest stores are located right outside the city center.
4. Artisans’ Fair – Paseo de las Artes : Sat, Sun & Holidays from 5 to 11 PM when it’s not raining!
This was definitely my favourite event of the week! Many artisans from the region gather here every weekend to sell their latest creations. You can find everything here, from jewelery to paintings and decorations, musical instruments, toys, clothing, antiques and mate!
What I like about this fair is the fact that it’s a mixture between art, decoration, music and cuisine. There are musicians that gather here to play (they usually expect money), as well as musical instruments sellers that promote their merchandize by playing.
Also, you can buy empanadas and other warm snacks, coffee or tea from ambulant sellers. Some ladies that sell home-baked cookies and other treats occupy a few stands at the entrance, so you can try some delicious desserts for very low rates.
Around the fair there are many bars and restaurants that sometimes play live music. Don’t forget to check the art galleries and antique shops in the area.
In conclusion, I believe it is the perfect place to spend the evening as it can offer a complete experience – shopping, art, food, drinks, live music and party!
5. Municipal Market
The market located close to the city center is the best place to buy cheap fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and fish. Eating barbeque is an important part of the Argentinian culture, so you’ll see a lot of people buying here. Also, you can try the small restaurants inside the market.
6. Palacio Ferreyra – Museum of Fine Arts – free on Wednesdays
Old mansion of a nobleman transformed into a museum. Interesting to notice the mixture between the original architecture and the modern installations.
7. Emilio Caraffa Museum – free on Wednesdays
I wasn’t able to visit this museum as I postponed my visit to the very last day, when it was closed because they were bringing in a new wxhibit. However, the mixture between new and old is very interesting!
8. Museum of Natural Science – free on Wednesdays/ worth visiting if you’re staying longer
I’m not particularly interested in science, but I enjoy visiting museums. Not necesarily for the exhibition, but to notice the architecture, the entrance and the way the spaces connect.
9. Cabildo museum – free on Wednesdays
The old Cityhall located right next to the Main Cathedral hosts temporary exhibitions.
10. Teatro del Libertador
11. Paseo del Buen Pastor
This shopping mall was created through the conversion of an old women’s jail. I don’t like the modern part, but I think it is a good example of how old unfunctional buildings can be converted and used nowadays. This part of the city is a meeting point for many people, especially for the youth. Each night you can admire the singing fountains every half hour!
D. RELIGIOUS ARCHITECTURE
Cordoba is considered the city of churches. Just a few hours spend in the center will make the reason obvious.
12. Jesuitical Block
This region was one of the first places where the jesuitic missions were established. You can also visit these missions in smaller towns from Cordoba, such as Alta Gracia.
This breathtaking building located in the heart of the city has been included in the World Heritage by UNESCO. The construction started in 1640. It encloses a church, a chapel, a national college, the National University of Cordoba (first in the country) and the university’s museum.
The last time I went inside a group of musician were practicing and the acoustics are amazing. The combination between the architecture and the music create a magical effect.
13. Cathedral of the Capucin Monks
14. Main Cathedral
Located right next to the main square, San Martin, this church cannot be missed. Notice the pavement in front of the building that is a projection of the main facade. Visit the inside and don’t forget to surround the entire building, the back side is extremely interesting as you can notice the materials that have been used in different moments!
15. Other churches
Once you get to Cordoba, make sure to go to an info point to collect your free map. You’ll find everything you need to know there, including the names and localization of the most beautiful churches in the center.
Take advantage of your stay in one of the most animated cities in Argentina ang go out! There are various bars and discoteques, some of them with life music, so you’ll definitely find your kind of place. So if you want to go to a concert, go dancing or enjoy a conversation in a quiet bar, Cordoba is the place to be!