It’s a short local bus ride from Fortín to Córdoba, and indeed these days the two places are barely separate – linked along the road by a continuous string of superstores and factories. At the centre of the area’s coffee trade, Córdoba is a busy modern city built around an attractive colonial centre. Founded in 1618 by thirty Spanish families – and so also known as the “City of the Thirty Knights” – its main claim to fame is that in 1821 the last Spanish viceroy, Juan O’Donoju, signed the Treaty of Córdoba with General Iturbide here, formally giving Mexico independence. The signing took place in the Palacio de los Condes de Zevallos, now known as the Portal de Zevallos, on the northern edge of the central Plaza 21 de Mayo.
There’s not a great deal specifically to seek out in Córdoba: the animated zócalo is the main focus, surrounded by arcaded portales, many of which, including the famous Porta de Zevallos, are given over to handicraft shops and cafés, where you can sit and sample Córdoban coffee or julep, a rum and mint cocktail. The twin-towered Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción, facing the Palacio Municpal across the plaza, is one of the most richly adorned religious buildings in the state – started in 1621, it contains a revered image of the Virgin Mary to the right of the altar. Nearby, on Calle 3 half a block off the zócalo between avenidas 3 and 5, is the Museo de la Ciudad. Housed in a beautiful colonial building with gorgeous mountain views from its upper storey, the museum’s exhibits (labelled in Spanish only) encompass some thirty centuries of local history, from Olmec and Totonac ceramics and sculpture, through Independence, to mementos of the Mexico ’68 Olympics.