CÓRDOBA is a busy modern city at the centre of the area’s coffee trade, built around a stunning 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.

There’s not a great deal specifically to seek out in Córdoba, where the animated zócalo, surrounded by arcaded portales, is the main focus. The signing of the Treaty of Córdoba took place in the Palacio de los Condes de Zevallos, now known as the Portal de Zevallos, on the Plaza 21 de Mayo; these days it’s 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 Municipal across the plaza, is one of the most richly adorned religious buildings in the state – started in 1621, it contains a revered statue of the Virgin Mary to the right of the altar.

The exhibits in the Museo de la Ciudad (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. They occupy a beautiful colonial building with gorgeous mountain views from its upper storey.

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