Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

Directorio Deco

A weekend in Cordoba (Spain)

Last month I spent the perfect weekend getaway in Cordoba (Andalusia) a city I highly encourage you to visit. Since I often receive Instagram messages and emails asking me for tips of where to stay or where to visit in Spain I’ve decided to share in this post a few Cordoba favourites so you can easily plan your next Spanish escape.

Getting there

You can fly to Malaga and take the train to Cordoba (it takes 1 hour approximately) or you can drive there (about 1h 45 minutes drive) If you are in Madrid you can take the high-speed train to Cordoba (it takes less than 2 hours!)

To stay

I stayed at Las Casas de la Juderia which is a hotel I was longing to visit for years. Boasting an ideal location in the old town, the hotel’s doors open out to the Jewish Quarter, just in front of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Royal Stables and the Caliphal Baths. Cordoba’s Mosque-Cathedral is just 200 metres away. For most of its long history, it has been a stately home, having belonged to noble families. Its repurposing as a hotel was overseen by Ignacio Medina Fernández de Cordoba, Duke of Segorbe, and Alonso Moreno de la Cova y Silva, who strove to respect the building’s history and architecture. The current owners, Pedro Fernández-Salvador Fernández de Heredia and his wife, Cordovan writer María Martínez-Sagrera Martín, preserve these noble houses and their centuries-old history with utmost care.

The small details make all the difference. In its 64 rooms, you may find original and authentic period materials in the furniture, decoration and artwork, especially the “Cordobán” – tanned leather adorned with handcrafted reliefs and painted imagery.

In Las Casas de la Judería de Cordoba no two bedrooms are alike. Each one is special, providing its own unique experience.

Stepping through their doors is like entering a miniature Córdoba; a journey into the visual past that still retains all the amenities expected of a modern hotel. The rooms are spread across winding and labyrinthine corridors and courtyards which lead to Roman ruins, intimate alcoves and whispering fountains.

The hotel is itself a joining of several historic houses, mainly La Casa Palacio de las Pavas. It contains Mudejar and Renaissance style patios, and a garden with a swimming pool and large terraces with views over the Mosque, including some reserved for private use in the most exclusive rooms.

To Visit

Córdoba has the second largest Old town in Europe, the largest urban area in the world declared World Heritage by UNESCO. Within walking distance from Las Casas de la Juderia you will find The Mosque-Cathedral and The Alcazar. They are both a great example of Córdoba’s rich past and the coexistence of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Go to the Museo de Bellas de Artes de Cordoba to see one of my favourite paintings ever –  ‘Bodegon con naranjas by Rafael Romero Barros (1863)

In the same building, you’ll find a museum dedicated to renown Spanish artist Julio Romero de Torres (the son of the author of the painting shown above)

One of the places I enjoyed visiting most was  El Palacio de Viana a stunning Renaissance palace with 12 beautiful, flower-filled patios. Occupied by the Marqueses de Viana until 1980, this large building is a little gem. You can just walk around the lovely patios or take a guided tour to see the interior as well.

 

The Courtyards of Cordoba

Due to the hot and dry climate, the homes of Cordoba were built with a central patio even back in the days of the Romans. This tradition was continued by the Moors and persists in many homes today. Filling the central patio with plants and water features has always been a way to keep local homes cool. But patio decorations ended up taking on a life all its own and at some point, someone realised that these hidden treasures were just too good to be kept tucked away behind heavy doors and iron grates. So, once a year, the doors open and everyone is invited in to see the wonders of Córdoba’s patios.

These patios not only offer a visual feast of colourful flowers, stone mosaics and ceramic decorations but also bring out the classic scents of Córdoba; jasmine and orange blossom mixed with a myriad of scents from the many other flowers and plants found in the region.

Cordoba celebrates the ‘Festival de los Patios’ (Courtyard festival) in May ( usually during the second and third week) and it’s a great opportunity to discover all the beautiful hidden courtyards in Cordoba. In this festival, that has been taking part since 1921, the courtyard owners compete for the best patio in town.

To eat

There are plenty of great places to eat in Cordoba but if I have to choose one I recommend Bodegas Campos a charming traditional restaurant with a great atmosphere.

To Shop

I love little stores full of character and I stumbled across the most charming hat store: Sombreros Rusi. It was opened in 1903 by Don Jose Rusi and has been kept as a family business ever since. The city of Cordoba has it’s very own hat (probably the most famous Spanish hat)  ‘El Sombrero Cordobes’ The origin of the style is unclear. Drawings as early as the 17th century show day labourers wearing this sort of hat. The style became more widespread in the late 19th and early 20th century.

A press feature of the Cordobes hat in 1959

Cayetana Fitz- James Stuart, Duchess of Alba, wearing a Cordobes Hat

Rusi is one of the few places where they still make made to measure Cordobes hats.

Decorating with Lebrillos

For the last few months, I’ve seen the traditional Spanish lebrillos de fajalauza (the characteristic ceramic from Granada) gracing walls, homes and stores all over the world. You might have seen them too, they are the huge ceramic bowls- usually green and white or blue and white- that people hang on walls, place on big tables or just lay them on the floor. Known in Spanish as lebrillos, they were traditionally used for cooking or for one’s personal hygiene. They have been around for centuries but lately, I started to see them outside Spain more and more often and I think we need to blame Instagram for the lebrillo revival.

You might remember this picture – it’s Veere Grenney house in Tangier and I’ve seen it in most of the Instagram accounts I follow – it kind of went viral when Architectural Digest posted the article back in March 2018

But before Grenney, Saint Laurent used the Spanish Lebrillos in Tangier at his and Berge’s Villa Mabrouka (I’ve always wondered if Greeney took inspiration from Mabrouka for his Tangier home)

Another Instagram account to ‘blame’ the popularity of Lebrillos is @volubilis_art This antiques store in Marbella has plenty of images with beautifully styled lebrillos that makes you want to fill your home with this attractive Spanish Ceramics.

 

The late Jaime Parladé used Lebrillos in many of his projects.

James Mortimer Photography

 

Ricardo Labougle photography

I love this pool Pavillion in Sotogrande by Melián-Randolph with a great balance between modern and traditional (You can read my interview with Sylvia Melián Randolph here)

 

If you are in America, you can find them at CASA GUSTO a beautiful store of antiques, objects, and artworks on Georgia Avenue in West Palm Beach Florida. The space is filled with goods old and new gathered and invented from around the globe. Their lebrillos are made in Mexico and inspired by traditional Andalusian designs.

Decorating with Intaglios

Intaglios were intended to preserve the arts and culture of ancient times, which had been lost throughout the centuries. Images were carved into stones and used to impress into wax seals. These carvings depict portraiture, renowned architecture, and celebrated scenes from ancient Rome and Greek mythology. In the 19th century, reliefs of these carvings were being reproduced in plaster form and became collectables

Plaster intaglios became to be used as mementoes for the Grand Tour travellers. these small carvings were collected during their travels. They would mount the intaglios into books and then make notes corresponding to each one as to his adventure that resulted in his buying or obtaining that stamp. By the end of the trip a traveller would have books filled with intaglios and notes that would last a lifetime.

Original set of  Grand Tour plaster intaglios, ‘Opere di Gibson’ circa 1830. The set is housed in a double-sided box designed as a book with half marbled boards with gilt lettered vellum spine, speckled ‘page edge’. Inside the front and back cover is a handwritten key describing the images on each of the cameos. 1stdibs

 

I find framed Intaglios a  highly effective way to decorate walls and they seem to always work well with both contemporary and traditional homes. Old or new, white or coloured, a simple framing or a playful one. Whatever is your choice, here are a few ideas on how to make the most of your collection.

As a lover of classical architecture and art,  there’s no surprise that Alexa Hampton often decorates with Intaglios. She makes them look uber chic in both her own bedroom and her guest bedroom.

 

The framed intaglios compliment beautifully the wallpaper pattern in this bedroom designed by Todd Richesin

 

It’s all about the contrast in this elegant space designed by Katie Ridder. The framed intaglios are from KRB. House Beautiful

 

From Intaglio-filled lamps to decoupage trays, Bridie Hall loves intaglios and she uses them in the most clever way.

 

If you’re are looking for unique framed intaglios, Parvum Opus is the place to go. The main designer and creative mind, Erika Stafanitti, also shares her ever-growing collection on Instagram – a must follow account for any Intaglio-Bindery lover.