The Sierra Morena mountains mark the northern frontier of Cordoba province; to the south, rolling hills rise to the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The Guadalquivir River enters from the east and meanders across the province in a west southwest direction toward Seville and the Atlantic Ocean. From the north flow the Cuzma, the Guadiato, and the Bembezar, tributaries to the main river, and from the south the Guadajoz and the GeniI, the latter forming part of the boundary between Cordoba and Seville to the south. Southwest winds are funneled into the province by the Guadalquivir valley, bringing more heat and moisture than the Mediterranean climate would normally afford.
The soil of the province is generally very fertile and rainfall, carefully distributed by small irrigation systems, is sufficient to place Cordoba among Spain's leading producers of wheat, barley, oats, com, cotton, and olives. Flax grows well here under irrigation and grapes are widely cultivated.
The region around Mantilla, in the south, produces a good dry wine. Mineral and metal deposits have not been extensively exploited, but in the north, where lead and zinc are mined, Penarroya has a zinc smelter with energy supplied by local coal deposits. Some copper is also mined in Cordoba province, and traces of uranium have been found there.
Places of Interest in Cordoba
The city's architecture reflects a variety of styles. The best-known building is the cathedral (Mezquita). Built as a mosque in the 8th century, it was enlarged during the caliphate. Modifications by the Christians in the Middle Ages included the construction of a series of small chapels along the walls, and, in the 16th century, the erection of an altar and choir in the center of the nave. Practically intact are the Patio de los Naranjos and the extensive nave, an area of unique beauty. The interior contains over 800 graceful columns, and in the subdued light the forest of columns appears to extend as far as the eye can see.
Near the cathedral, on the site of a Visigothic palace, is the Alcazar, the residence of the caliphs, enlarged by Alfonso XI in the 14th century.
Near this spot is a Roman bridge, rebuilt by the Moors, which is guarded across the river by the Calahorra fortress. Portions of Roman and Arabic walls still stand. There is an archaeological museum and, in the fine arts museum, as in many churches and other buildings, there are a number of valuable paintings. In the hills near the city are a 15th century monastery with its outlying hermitages, and the ruins of Medina Zahra.