Bar La Cavea: A Hidden Gem in Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter
Plaza Jerónimo Páez is a safely tucked away gem nestled in the heart of La Juderia, Córdoba’s historical Jewish quarter. It offers the postcard-perfect backdrop to a tranquil afternoon or evening spent at La Cavea, the best café that I have discovered on my Spanish travels so far.
This homely, warm and traditional bar/café is beloved by locals and tourists alike, with a steady stream of customers milling through, sitting under parasols outside on the cobbled path, sipping a café con leche (coffee with milk) or a glass of Ribero del Duero red wine.
I felt a sudden wave of reassurance sweep over me as I was met with the warm expressions and greetings of the staff and fellow patrons; my new home-away-from-home.
What struck me first about this café was the sheer aesthetic beauty of its situation: an assortment of trees native to Andalucia form a much-welcomed canopy of shade while the neighbouring homes frame the plaza with their immaculate white and yellow edifices and intricate columns–a possible nod to Córdoba’s former Roman rule. The heady scent of orange blossom and purple Jacaranda flowers along with the pleasant sound of trickling water from the central fountain make for a sensory delight; this is before any food or drink has even been consumed!
When I signed the paperwork for my new apartment on a nearby street shortly after experiencing the tumult of uprooting my life from the UK to Spain, I was certainly in the mood for a celebratory and restorative vino tinto at what would now be my new locale. A far cry from the polished, trendy cocktail bars I had been frequenting in my home city of Liverpool! I felt a sudden wave of reassurance sweep over me as I was met with the warm expressions and greetings of the staff and fellow patrons; my new home-away-from-home.
The true essence of the appeal of this quaint yet lively little café is that it is inclusive of all ages. Pensioners meet in large groups (usually clad in their Sunday finery, as the older Spanish citizens are remarkably glamorous) to converse over a platter of Jamón Ibérico (Spain’s famous cured ham) while children roam freely in the safety of the square, splashing in the fountain or playing on the nearby steps.
My friend Anna and her three-year-old daughter Summer came to visit me during my second week of living in Córdoba, and I knew ‘La Cavea’ would serve as a secure, affordable and child-friendly base while I would be out working during the day. Anna praised the men who run the place for their consistent hospitality and kindly manner towards her young daughter. Despite the language barrier, the staff were delighted to see Summer playing with her toy mermaids in their fountain and would even pick oranges from their trees for her to play with.
For me, this is what truly enriching experiences for children consist of. I believe there can be a degree of educational merit attributed to the technological gadgets of modern day. However, seeing a little English girl playing with a little Spanish girl, chattering away blissfully in their respective native languages yet still seamlessly communicating about flowers or water, for example, is priceless in comparison.
What I love most is the joviality of the sound of people chatting away in Spanish and laughing.
La Cavea opens early in the morning for breakfast Tuesday-Sunday, closing for a few hours for the almost sacred tradition of siesta time in the later afternoon. When it re-opens, it takes on a new vibe–the smell of chorizo cooking in a red wine sauce drifts across the plaza and the clinking of wine glasses becomes more prominent than earlier in the day. What I love most is the joviality of the sound of people chatting away in Spanish and laughing. However, it is just as much fun to sit there alone, as I often do, book in hand (or more prevalently, wine glass in hand), observing the relaxed outdoor socialising culture of southern Spain.
Most evenings, I retreat back to my apartment and open the door to the rooftop terrace from my bedroom to allow some of the heat to be expelled back into the night. As I peg my washing on the line, I can just catch a glimpse of the late-night punters at La Cavea from the side. It is common for the gentle sound of a guitar or piano to float upwards towards my bedroom, before I eventually close the door on another day in this enchanting city.
Top photo credit: Brad Hammonds