The origins of Cordoba go back to ancient times. In 169 BCE, Claudius Marcellus founded a Roman colony here because its strategic location on the Rio Guadalquivir. Cordoba was the entrance to the region of Andalusia and became an important river port.
The Moorish invasion of the city took place in 711. Cordoba surrendered after the Moors agreed to respect the life and religious beliefs of the inhabitants. This was far more generous that what the non-Catholics received years later during the Spanish Inquisition.
The city enjoyed a period of prosperity during the next five centuries. Moors, Jews, and Christians lived peacefully side-by-side. In 716, Cordoba became the capital of Al-Andalus, and in 756 the region became an independent Emirate.
By 1013 political decadence brought about the dismemberment of the Emirate into smaller political units, but this did not affect intellectual development in the city. This period saw such illustrious sons as the poet Aben Hazam, the great Jewish doctor and thinker Maimonides, and the philosopher Averroes.
In 1236, a Christian army under Ferdinand III conquered Cordoba and incorporated it into the kingdom of Castile. After this, and up to the 20th century, Cordoba was considered nothing more than a mere city of transit.
In the 20th century, Cordoba's importance grew and the city modernized. She now has a population of around 315,000, and her historic center is one of the largest in Europe.