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When promenading in Córdoba look not only what is in front of or above you. The floors are a distinguishing mark of the city. I am referring to the popular and historic pavement of its streets, squares and patios. There are three kinds of historical floors that have their root deep into Córdoba's beginnings.  

First come the floors of the alleys of the old city, these are made up of big and crude granite stones fitted in a colossal way. Many of these ancient and large stones still preserve the stonemason signature carved in them: the carving is usually an initial. It is also known that many of those stones came from older and disused buildings. As of today many streets are still paved with these enormous stones that cool off the summer heat when the sun finally sets.

The second kind is what we commonly call “bolo de río” (river boulder), it is used in the center of the alleys to fill the space between the bigger previous stones. It is also used in large patios and stables. It is crude and uncomfortable to walk on as they are, indeed, river boulders from the Guadalquivir about the size of an orange.

The third one is much more appealing and is truly considered Cordoba's typical cobble. It is the most creative flooring of them all, a delicate and meticulous effort where small flat river pebbles of different colors are put together to make drawings. This floor is very popular and a distinctive feature of the city, not only for its beauty but also because it acts as a temperature regulator. It is put together in a way that allows them to be frequently watered and dry quickly lowering the temperature of the surrounding area.

Cordoba's cobble floor constitutes a completely a handmade craft. One by one the cobbles are put together over a compact base, a mixture of dry sand and concrete. Designs and drawings are marked with strings. When the countless cobbles are placed they are leveled by hammering thick wooden strips over them until they are set just right. Once put together the floor is watered lightly for a couple of days so the mixture of sand and concrete hardens and fixes the cobbles. The last step involves a layer of dry mortar, that will gradually harden thanks to the humidity of the floor and light waterings, to clear the designs.

 

Where to see them
They are all over the city, many are very close from the hotel. You can see the big crude stones in the beautiful Plaza del Potro. The uncomfortable “bolo de río” paves the Patio de los Naranjos of the Mezquita. Cordoba's cobble is especially in small squares, stairs and the interiors of patios. Interesting designs are those in the Cuesta del Bailío and the Cuesta de Luján, in Ramon y Cajal square and the Indiano square.

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