Córdoba, in Andalucia, is known for its ‘Feria de los Patios’ that takes place in May. Flowers, colours and aromas that brings the city of Córdoba to life.
Because of the hot Mediterranean climate many houses in Andalucia are built with a central “patio” (courtyard). This is a custom that dates back to the Romans, founders of the city. They say the Guadalquivir River as an oppoturnity for trade and short after became a port city exporting Spanish products, such as olive oil, wine and wheat to Ancient Rome.
Patios were then adapted by Moslems – who were based in Córdoba (from 929 to 1031), then known to the resident muslims as ‘Caliphate of Córdoba’. Córdoba was capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus, who built the famous “Mezquita” (Great Mosque), a important monument and attraction. This Mezquita is one of the largest in all of islam culture.
Moslems were the first to bring the idea of decorating courtyards and entrances with fresh and colourful plants and even fountains, nicely contrasting with the sharp white walls of houses. There characteristics helped houses remain cool in summer, a big help from the hot summer climate.
Moslem influences still remain in Córdoba and since 1918 the City Hall has annually hosted “Festival de los Patios”.
Where can to go see the “patios”?
These colorful patios are mainly situated within the historic part of the Córdoba, in the district of Alcázar Viejo, around church of San Lorenco, Magdalena, around the Mosque-Cathedral, in the Jeweish Quarter and in Palacio de Viana (Viana Palace). Courtyards closest and in Palacio de Viana are some of the most beautifully floral and decorated patios. In 2012 Córdoba’s courtyards got listed as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.
Festival de los Patios will take place 5th – 18th May this year, 2014
There are tourist information spots with English and Spanish maps of where courtyards are open for viewing, the family they belong to and the type of courtyard it is.
They are all walking distance from each other and having a stroll through the center by foot is lovely, you will pass by local cafes, restaurants and tapas bars as well as small shops and local crafts.
There are two types of courtyards
1) One-family home with rooms that are arranged around the courtyard, with arches, decorative pebbled or tiled floor.
2) So called ‘Neighbours-house’ (‘casa de vecinos’) where individual homes are joined with a patio in common. This is usually has 2 floors and with outdoor staircases, balconies, added roof tiles (for decoration). However, today these are less common that one-family homes.
May is a big month in Cordoba, probably the biggest. This month boasts celebrations and festivals.
Cruces de Mayo (Festival of the Crosses)
30th April – 4th May 2014
Be sure to come to Córdoba for the Festival of Crosses, a more recent festival but nevertheless one not to miss. It is usually followed by the Festival de los Patios, both festivals that incorporate flowers and their aromas and of course lots of color.
It’s also a competition, but for best decorated cross made from flowers and solely flowers. This then leads to a procession of floats known as La Batalla de las Flores (‘the Battle of the Flowers’) to which locals dress up in traditional clothing; women wear colorful flamenco dresses, people drink chilled Montilla-Moriles wine and the most danced-to songs are “sevillanas”. Sevillanas, originates from Seville, but is essentially a type of folk dance similar to Flamenco but of with less technique and more fluidity. It’s a type of flamenco that anybody can dance.
Feria de Córdoba (Córdoba’s annual Fair)
24th – 31st May 2014
The party month continues with Córdoba’s big annual fair. Every city, town, village in Spain has a ‘feria’. Consists of various stands, in Spanish called ‘casetas’, decorated Andalusian style, home to loud music, lots of dancing, big kitchens serving local cuisine and plenty of drink. Traditionally these casetas were rented out by families and/or social clubs who host their own parties for members. This is still the case for many ferias across Spain but Córdoba’s casetas are much more open to non-members – yes it includes you too. Lots of lights and partying until dawn, this image below may give you an idea of the vibrant atmosphere that Cordoba’s feria is all about.