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Córdoba has been awarded a World Heritage Site in three occasions by the UNESCO, and not only because of the Mezquita. Its rich heritage remains mostly unseen, it would be a tremendous effort to bring it all out to meet the eye. Not even ourselves, born and raised in this city, know half of what lies beyond many walls and doors. The monumental Plaza de la Compañía (the Square of the Society) is one of those cases. Despite its grand nature and its great location, right in the commercial sector of the city, it is barely visited by tourists due to the fact that its doors are firmly closed every weekend. What you see is what it will be for you.

The Plaza de la Compañía (Compañia de Jesús, Society of Jesus) could have been the first university of Andalusia around the XVIIth century, but the project was in the end rejected. Even so, the square was –still is– the heart of student life in the city. The Jesuits (Society established in 1554 and expelled in 1767) built the school of Santa Catalina and the church of el Salvador (the Saviour) with designs of Hernán Ruiz II (right of the picture); it is the sole example of Mannerism in the city.

A few years after the eviction of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), in a lot nearby, begun the construction of another big school, with designs of Baltasar Devreton. The building was concluded in 1772, however, that very same year the dome collapsed. By then Ventura Rodríguez intervened to reinforce and rebuild the fallen dome (center of the picture). The school of Santa Victoria is an early example of neoclassic architecture of radical pureness in its style.  

The complex (left of the picture) is completed by the church of Santo Domingo de Silos and its bell tower –as of today, head office of the Historical Archive of the City–; its center is guarded by a monument of San Rafael, custodian of the city of Córdoba.

Despite the beauty of this spot, real treasure is hidden behind walls. I am referring, of course, to the astonishing marble stairway inside the old Jesuit school. It was once included a visitable place in old tourist guides, sadly not anymore.

The stairway of the Society of Jesus rose in 1701, when an old building was demolished in order to build the school that has reached our days. Designs were by Francisco Hurtado Izquierdo. The stair is of imperial style made on black marble garnished in red, white and green marble.  The stair opens to a corridor through three arcs with a picture window at the entrance and two parallel tranches that reach the upper floor reproducing the triple arcade. The space is then covered by a big semi-spheric dome set on top of spandrels decorated with baroque plaster-works. To many experts, it is considered as the most beautiful baroque stairway of the country.

However, it is almost impossible to access it, since it is closed for any visiting purpose, just like the Church of the School of Santa Victoria. It is not a rare thing, though. Most churches will only allow visitors during mass hours; they lack a touristic and cultural program. I ignore the reason behind such rigidity, moreover in a city that lives almost exclusively of tourism, it keeps tourists from longer stays. I do not know whether there is a strange plan behind it, it is harmful nonetheless. There are smaller cities that have managed to give a positive solution and as of today churches are open to the public.

A wish for 2018.

For the city’s sake –and all of us living in it–, this new year we wish for better more intelligent cultural and touristic managers, able to open up the city to the new ways of the world, successful at revealing that this city has more to offer than we know of, able to plan good new routes to further explore, able to make tourism stay longer to enjoy this wonderful and monumental city.

We wish you all a happy new year!

Tramo principal de la Escalinata
Segundo tramo de la Escalinata de la Compañía
Vista de la cúpula de la Escalinata
Detalle del trabajo en mármoles del suelo
Aspecto global de la Plaza de la Compañía
Antiguo grabado de la Escalinata de la Compañía.
Guis Turisticas antiguas que muestran este monumento.
Interior de la Iglesia de Santa Victoria



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