Palacio de Congresos

Historic Building in Córdoba

Facade Of Hospital De San Sebastian, Cordoba
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Kennosuke Yamaguchi

The Palacio de Congresos or Cordoba’s Conference Center which is located in the old San Sebastian Hospital in Córdoba, Andalusia in Spain. Hospital de San Sebastián was located in a 16th-century building on Calle Torrijos in the historic center, to the west of the front of the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba. In addition to being the headquarters of the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones it is also a tourist information office. Is part of the historic center of Cordoba was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1994.

What did the Hospital de San Sebastián look like?

The old hospital is built around two courtyards, from which different building radiate.  The building intertwines features from the Gothic, Mudejar and even Italian Renaissance. From the original structure the facade, church and patio remain.

These courtyards stand out as the architectural center, with small octagonal pillars that simulate columns and banked brick arches.  

From this impressive one you can reach the Julio Romero de Torres Room, an old maternity area now dedicated to the famous painter from Córdoba, where you can see wonderful frescoes, from the 16th century, with passages from the life of San Sebastián. 

The main core of the building was the cloister, a unique example of Mudejar architecture, and the church with a single nave. An integral part of this is the magnificent doorway in flamboyant Gothic style, very rich in Plateresque decoration, the work of the master Hernán Ruiz. The Church has a rectangular, hall-type floor plan divided into two sections: oratory and presbytery. We will highlight two aspects of its interior: firstly, the presbytery cover, with a Gothic rib that rests on plements; secondly, the tribunes located on the sides of the Church, from which the sick in the hospital could follow religious celebrations.

The quadrangular patio has two levels of arches. The first floor is made up of rows of banked semi-circular arches, while on the second floor they are lowered semicircular arches.

Access to the Hospital was made through the door that currently exists to the right of the Church, giving way to a hallway and the goal, where the admission office and the pharmacy were located.

Short History of the Hospital de San Sebastián

The Hospital de San Sebastián was founded in 1363 in Alcayceria and moved to its current location in the early 16th century.

The building was was built between 1512 and 1516 by the architect Hernán Ruiz El Viejo. The site chosen was then known as the Corral de Cárdenas, located opposite the western side of the Mosque-Cathedral, which is now Calle Torrijos. In the time of the Moors the site would have belonged to the ablution room located on the west side of the Mosque. The building also includes part of the original wall of the Ummayad Alcazar, where the Caliphs had their seat before building the Medina Azaraha palace several miles from Cordoba.

The building served as a hospital (1516-1816); a home for mothers and infants (1816-1961); and currently houses the Palace of Congresses and Exhibitions, as well as the Office of Tourism.

The Brotherhood of San Sebastián was supervised by the Cathedral Chapter, and had been in operation since the middle of the 14th century. The new hospital was dedicated to the care and attention of the demented and infected patients.

The abandonment of children in the streets and on the banks of the river of Córdoba had been a priblem since the mid-sixteenth century.  At the beginning of the 19th century it became a child collection center and was known as the Casa de los Expósito or Casa Cuna or House of the Cradle. As a temporary measure one of the bays of the Patio de los Naranjos de la Mezquita was used hence one of the entrances of the Cathedral is still called Postigo de la Leche – nursing mothers used to take shelter from bad weather here, waiting to be hired for the Nursery .

The San Sebastián Hospital became part of the Córdoba Provincial Council in 1850 , but continued to function as a foundling house and a maternity hospital until 1961, the year the building closed for more than two decades. At present it is the headquarters of the Palace of Congresses and Exhibitions of the city, in addition, the old Church houses a Tourist Information Office , so access is free to tourists.

The Palacio de Congresos appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Córdoba!

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Visiting Palacio de Congresos

Address: Palacio De Congresos Y Exposiciones De Córdoba Calle Torrijos, 10 14003 Córdoba Spain
Telephone: +34 957 490 296
Duration: 20 minutes

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