The city is known by many as La Docta because of its many universities and scientific institutes. Around 200,000 people study here, which makes the city’s population one of the youngest and liveliest in South America. There is cultural and night life, primarily in the Güemes and Alta Córdoba areas and in the red light district know as the Ex Abasto because until 1990 it was a huge market area (Mercado de Abasto, now in the city outskirts).
The colonial architecture of the city center now coexists with many modern buildings. Although the oldest buildings are found in the surroundings of the Plaza San Martín (microcentro), the most pleasant areas are now the Nueva Córdoba district south of the center and the area around the Cañada, a small colonial canal that crosses the city. These areas show a mix of well-designed modern buildings and old houses, often built in neo-colonial style. The Barrio Güemes, which is protected by municipal laws, is particularly pleasant, with an 19th century atmosphere rather similar to Buenos Aires’ “San Telmo” district, but with more movement.
The city district itself covers 529 square km (204 sq mi) and has 1.3 million inhabitants, but there are many satellite towns outside this area. Those west of the city lie in the hills of the Sierras de Córdoba and are residential areas with some tourist attractions like Río Ceballos, La Calera, and the famous holiday center Villa Carlos Paz near the San Roque dam, which provides the city with potable water and electricity. North and east of the city, in the plains, lie poor suburbs with a slum-like appearance similar to Juárez Celman and Malvinas Argentinas.
The climate in the city and surrounding areas is pleasant year round. Even in winter there are frequent warm, sunny days, although you must be prepared for cold nights and some chilly, cloudy periods, which never last more than a week or so. During the summer the rainy season (November to March) it is hot and humid. The rain causes some spot flooding due to an unsatisfactory drainage system. The best time to visit Córdoba is March to May and August to November, when it’s not too hot nor too cool and there is very little rain.
Córdoba was founded in 1573 and for a long time it was the largest and most important town in the region that today is Argentina. In 1776 Buenos Aires was declared capital of the Virreinato del Río de la Plata. Córdoba’s university was founded as early as 1613 by the Jesuits. The Catholic Church had much influence on social life until 1900, and Córdoba sometimes was called “Argentina’s Rome”. In 1918 a student revolution, the Reforma Universitaria, led to a modernization of the university, which until this time had been very conservative and was full of corruption. This revolution spread to all cities of Argentina and most of Latin America.
In the 1950s the city was industrialized by the Perón and Frondizi governments. Today, Córdoba is Argentina’s second technology hub behind Buenos Aires and leads above-all in motor industry and in high-tech sectors like software and electronics.