The charming courtyards (patios) of Cordoba are an important part of the city’s rich Moorish legacy. Each year at the beginning of May, they fall under the spotlight during the Patio Festival.
The Romans built houses around a central courtyard. The Moors continued the tradition introducing decorative tiles, water features and colourful plants as a way of keeping their homes cool. This year, the competition for the most beautiful patios is open for visitors from 3rd to 16th May.
100 years of the Patio Festival
Since 1921, the Town Hall has organised a competition of Courtyards and Crosses in the first week of May. Owners decorate their houses with a riot of flowers planted in beds and pots, which either hang from the walls or placed on a paving specific to Cordoba.
A festival runs in parallel with a number of performances by the best singers and dancers on the scene. Ordinarily, some patio owners serve the local fino wine from Montilla-Moriles and delicious tapas.
Recognised by UNESCO
The patio festival is part of UNESCO´s Intangible Heritage of Humanity list; demonstrating “an integral part of this city’s cultural heritage”, with peaceful communal living.
The whitewashed walls hide behind colourful pots overflowing with geraniums, pansies and roses, while bougainvillea and jasmine cascade from balconies and roofs.
Types of Courtyards
Each courtyard has its own unique architecture, the result of diverse historical evolutions. However, in general, the courtyards are divided into two basic groups:
Monumental and stately courtyards: relating to old palaces of the local aristocracy or notable religious buildings. For example, the Patio de los Naranjos (the Orange Tree Courtyard), or those of the synagogue and the Santuario de la Fuensanta (Sanctuary of Fuensanta).
The Palacio de Viana (Palace of Viana) stands out among the stately homes with twelve integrating courtyards displaying different architectural styles.
Competition courtyards: all the courtyards that have participated in the municipal competition since its beginning in 1921 until the present. Within this group there are two: courtyards with old architecture and courtyards with modern or renovated architecture.
Covid precautions in place
It is great news the patios are open this year, especially as it is 100 years since the competition started.
The town hall has introduced rules to ensure everyone remains safe whilst seeing this beautiful and integral part of Cordoba’s heritage.