Visiting the Royal Stables and Andalusian Horses of Córdoba
I’m willing to bet that most visitors who make a day trip to Cordoba do so for the sole purpose of seeing the amazing Mezquita. And rightfully so, as this is one of Spain’s most iconic and historic monuments to a bygone era. But, there is another very good reason to visit Cordoba, especially if you love horses and have a desire to see the legendary Andalusian Horses of Spain.
Located just behind the Alcazar and a short walk from the Mezquita is the Royal Stables of Cordoba. The building was originally part of the Alcazar, built by King Philip II in 1570. It retains its military character and Moorish architecture and is located in a scenic setting in the historic district of Cordoba on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. The King was a real lover of horses, which explains his motivation for constructing the stables and setting out to create a purebred Spanish horse.
Known worldwide as the Andalusian horse, they were first recognized as a distinct breed in the 15th century, however, their history goes back thousands of years on the Iberian Peninsula. Cave paintings in Spain have been found showing pictures of horses that date as far back as 30,000 BC. What distinguishes this breed is their long thick mane and tail, as well as their elegant yet robust build. Although found in many colors, gray is the most common coat color. Because of their extreme athleticism, the Andalusian horse has been used in the past as a war horse, as well as the preferred breed of nobility across Europe. Today, they can be found performing around the world in many equestrian activities, including dressage and show jumping.
If you would like to see the Andalusian horses you have a couple of options while in Cordoba. You can attend one of the nightly shows that take place at the Royal Stables or you can watch the horses during their afternoon practice session. If you are staying in Cordoba I would highly recommend trying to attend the nightly show, called the Passion and ’Duende’ of the Andalusian Horse. Even though we did not have an opportunity to see the show, the reviews are excellent. However, if you are in Cordoba as a day trip, which many visitors are, then I would offer the practice session as a great alternative to experience these majestic creatures.
Royal Stables Visitor Information
Nightly Show: Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse
- Days: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
- Hours: Show starts at 9 pm
- Length: Approximately 90 minutes
- Ticket Price: Adults – 15 euro, 20 euro for premium seating
- Children – 10 euro
- Days: Monday to Saturday
- Hours: 10 am – 1:30 pm, 4 pm – 8 pm
- Ticket Price: 5 euro
Whether you are attending the show or the practice session, I would suggest starting your visit by touring the carriage museum that is located just to the left of the ticket booth as you enter the grounds. The museum contains a wonderful collection of historic carriages dating back centuries, and the arched columns and vaulted ceiling add an architectural flair to what was the stables for the horses at one time. It won’t take long to tour the carriage house, perhaps 15 to 20 minutes, but it’s definitely worth seeing.
If you are looking for a great place for lunch while visiting Cordoba try Bodegas Mezquita. Great food, exceptional service, and located just north of the Mezquita on Calle Cespedes. Our waiter, Manolo, was the best!
If you are attending the practice session you can wander the grounds as you please or just sit and watch the horses with their trainers and riders as they practice their routines. One of the things that we really enjoyed was the ability to interact with the horses up-close. I realize this certainly isn’t for everyone, but for us, it was a treat to be able to touch them and take photos of these beautiful creatures. Watching the horses come and go from their stalls, getting bathed, eating, and of course, performing is a real treat for anyone with a love for horses. On our visit to the practice session we wound up staying for about 2 hours, so there is no need to rush your visit. We leisurely toured the carriage house, spent an hour or so sitting in the stands watching the horses practice, and then roamed the grounds while meeting some of the horses. It all added up to an amazing experience and something that I highly recommend if you are visiting Cordoba.
The Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse
If attending the nightly show you can arrive an hour early, at 8 pm, and spend the time viewing the carriage museum and roaming the grounds. It really is a beautiful setting and once the sun sets and the grounds are illuminated it just adds to the ambiance. The show, which starts at 9 pm, will give you the opportunity to see the horses display their amazing athletic ability while marveling at the talented riders, music, traditional costumes, and flamenco dancers that all combine to make this show a magical event. Expect the show to last approximately 90 minutes.
Because we were visiting Cordoba as a day trip from Seville we could not stay to see the evening show. But, getting the opportunity to spend a couple of hours at the stables and watching these beautiful creatures was a wonderful experience and one that I highly recommend for anyone visiting Cordoba. The Mezquita is not the only “must see” in Cordoba, add the Royal Stables to your list and you will not be disappointed.
© 2019 Bill De Giulio