The Royal Stables of Córdoba were declared National Historical Monument in 1929, and they started to be part of the National Heritage. They were founded through a decree by King Felipe II (1556-1598) in 1570, with the objectve of breeding Spanish thoroughbred horses, at the service of the Spanish Monarchy. For this reason, the Andalusian horse is considered the Spanish horse par excellence. The building works were commissioned to the Master of the King’s Horse, Diego López de Haro y Sotomayor, Beatriz de Sotomayor’s grandson, Marchiones of Carpio, and Diego López de Haro, a gentleman from Castilla.
Diego chose as a location for the stables, following his criterion or with the Monarch’s opinion, the neighbourhood of San Basilio, next to the old area of the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs, which was built over the old Caliphal stables, going on until the bank of the river Guadalquivir and which had more than two thousand horses during Al-Hakam I’s mandate.
The mares were placed in the meadows and lands of "Córdoba la Vieja" (The old Córdoba), "Alameda del Obispo", "Dehesa de la Rivera", "Gamonosas", "La Pendolilla" and "Cortijo el Alcaide", among other areas. This way, after more than thirty years of dedication, Diego, who was also councilor of the city of Córdoba and marquis of Carpio since 1580, wrote these words to the king: "the kindness of the horses in Córdoba is the greatest thing His Majesty has in the world".
However, in the 18th century, a fire completely destroyed the stables. Therefore, years later, Monarch Carlos III (1759-1788) ordered its reconstruction. They belonged to the Crown until the mandate of Fernando VII (1808-1833), after which they belonged to the State. In this sense, we can highlight the work carried out by the Spanish Army, as since 1866 they were in charge of continuing the tradition of breeding horses. Until 1995 the building of the stables belonged to the Ministry of Defence, when the Army’s Deposit of Studs was transferred to Écija. In 1996 the Subdelegation of Defence in Córdoba was moved there, until in 2002, the ownership of the building was given to the City Council.
The Royal Stables are an attractive rectangular building with broad vaulted rooms which worked as stables. Its wide central courtyard distributes the different rooms, among which we can highlight stable number I, as it keeps its old appearance. The ground floor of the building of the stables is one of the main elements in the Royal Stables. The main stable has a groin vault supported by sandstone columns that separate and demarcate the different stables or stalls. Other interesting elements are the Riding School, the Tower of the Wall, as well as the free space of the gardens.
The historical building has been the headquarters of the Regional Secretary for South-Mediterranean Europe of the Organization for the World Heritage Cities. At the beginning of 2006 the Cavalry Section of the Local Police was transferred there. Until recently, the first floor had the administrative offices of the Tourism Consortium of Córdoba and the Department of Tourism and World Heritage of the City Council. Likewise, it is also the headquarters for institutions like Córdoba ecuestre (Equestrian Córdoba), Córdoba Convention Bureau and Córdoba Film Office until March 2008. There is also an office belonging to Denominación de Origen Montilla Moriles (Certificate of Origin of the wine Montila Moriles).
If you are wondering what to do in Córdoba, we recommend you visit the Royal Stables hiring one of our guided tours. Choose to do high quality sightseeing with qualified staff. Do not hesitate, ArtenCórdoba is the best option.
Text: Jesús Pijuán.