One of the most significant parts in urban planning in Islamic cities is the location where trade took place. As we know, Córdoba is one of the cities in Western Europe where Muslims left a clearer print and it obviously had its market. Actually, the Arab word suq, meaning “market”, was the origin of souk. And probably, in order to keep the ancestral use of the place, located next to the mosque, they created in the vicinity a place to promote the traditional crafts from Córdoba.
Thus, the place they chose was at the back of the Bullfighting Museum, opposite the small Tiberíades Square, between Judíos and Averroes Streets. In 1954, Mayor Antonio Cruz Conde (1949-1964) opened the Local Souk, built in the gardens of the primitive Bulls House by architect from Córdoba José Rebollo Dicenta (born in 1915). The complex has been declared Heritage of Cultural Interest in the General Plan of Cultural Heritage, thus having special protection.
As an unexplored hidden place, the Bulls House can be accessed through a narrow street, framed by three small half arches. The two-floored building is supported by load-bearing walls and arcades over pilasters and columns and there are bays around the courtyards. Consequently, it consists of a sort of square-courtyard, where the main structural courtyard, of square floor and double height, has four galleries with arches framed by alfiz and supported by columns and capitals. As for its double height, the lower one has porticos on three of its sides, whereas on the fourth one there is a stairway leading to the second floor. The higher floor has only two galleries, as the third one belongs to one of the rooms of the Bullfighting Museum.
It is an ancient house with Mudejar elements (16th century), where we can highlight the following characteristic features: the courtyard, annexed to the façade, has an entrance lodge –covered gallery, opened to the outside on one or more sides–, with a two-floored gallery in the north. The façade, painted with white mortar, is distributed in three blocks; the lintelled stone entrance has a balcony on the higher floor, and in the rest of the façade, solid structures abound over the empty ones; its inclined ceiling with Arab ceramic tiles; lastly, the decoration is simple, with exposed brick, and we can also highlight the stoned floor and the vegetation.
In the Local Souk there are different shops and trades (silversmiths, potters, tanners who work with the traditional cordobán), where the tourist can look and buy varied and typical crafts from Córdoba. The beautiful courtyards and corners of the house clearly show the intimacy of the neighbourhood. At the end of the souk, there is another pointed arch, facing Averroes Street, where the Mudejar Chapel of San Bartolomé is, and, further up, the old Hospital of Cardinal Salazar, with a Baroque courtyard around which the classrooms of the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of the University of Córdoba are arranged.
Finally, the performances of Cante Jondo (flamenco) celebrated here in the popular festival of the Courtyards in May in Córdoba are unforgettable.
If you are wondering what to do in Córdoba, we recommend you visit the Local Souk 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.