CÓRDOBA – Every year in Córdoba, spring is greeted with a lot of ‘alegria‘. During the ‘Festival de Los Patios, Rejas y Balcones’, Córdoba turns into one big flower show for two weeks. This year it is celebrated between May 2 and 14.
Neighbourhood associations and fraternities compete to create the most beautifully decorated patio in town. Furthermore, the decoration consists entirely of flowers. The patios are therefore the colourful symbol of the city. Moreover, without exception, the residents proudly show visitors from near and far their hidden paradises. Some are so overflowing with flowers that you can barely move.
However, other courtyards are more spacious. On some patios, the walls resemble cascades of greenery and flowers, covering the white plaster in pots or hanging from first-floor balconies. Here and there a complete tour follows by residents who enthusiastically explain their house and patio.
Homes like small museums
Antique elements, such as four-hundred-year-old wells and washhouses, are shown as if they were placed there by the residents themselves. You can admire hundreds of species of flowers and plants. Curious eyes are rewarded by the occasional sneak-peek into the private quarters of the Cordobeños. It provides wonderful insights into beautiful old kitchens with large wooden tables or living rooms with sofas covered by colourful cushions.
Different types of patios
The Cordobese neighbourhoods where you can visit the oldest patios are the Judería, Santa Marina, San Augustin, and Santo Basilio. Each neighbourhood, has its typical characteristics. For example, in the Judería (Jewish quarter) patios seem to be smaller and cosier than in the other areas. It is striking that there are many orange trees. In Barrio San Andrés, violets in various colours predominate next to begonias and geraniums.
Types of flowers and herbs
Despite the repeating element of a large number of flowers, each patio exudes a unique atmosphere. The patios that belong to a house are usually smaller than those on which several houses open out and are therefore shared by several families. Azaleas, bougainvilles, carnations, roses, lilies, begonias, asters, hydrangeas, geraniums, jasmine, and damas de Noche are – among many others – flowers that bloom in Córdoba. The herbs rosemary, parsley, mint, and thyme can also be admired and especially smelled.
Related post: The Meztuita-cathedral in Córdoba, a must-see in 2023
A fountain or well forms the basis of many patios. The fountains are lined with beautiful mosaic tiles and the floor is often decorated with a radiant pebble-inlaid pattern. From a distance, it looks like a carpet. Many courtyards are also located in buildings that are open to the public. For example, many restaurants in the centre are arranged around a beautifully decorated patio.
Heart of the home
The patio has always been the heart of the Andalucian house around which the life of the Moors took place. People gathered there, spent the warm summer evenings and found their peace. And that far from the bustle of the city, which was only a few meters away behind large, sturdy doors.
The more important residents, the lusher their patio
In earlier times, the fireplace was also located on the patio. This was essential for both Romans and Moors. Charcoal had to burn day and night. Due to the large amount of time people spent on and around their patios, they took great care and attention to decorate them with brightly coloured tiles (azulejos), flowers and plants.
Pebbles inlaid on the ground in typical patterns and arcades provided cooling and shade. The more important and wealthy the residents were, the more opulent their patio was. Water was collected in basins or extracted from a well in the middle of the patio. A patio was seen as a heavenly oasis of light, scent and colour, where residents could withdraw from the hectic pace of everyday life.
The festival is celebrated from 2 to 14 May. Furthermore, patios are usually open from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm and 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm. However, on Fridays and Saturdays, you can even admire them until midnight. But on Sundays, they are only open between 3.00 pm and 9.00 pm. Click here for the official programme.
Palacio de Viana
If you miss the festival, you can visit the Palacio de Viana at other times of the year for a good impression of the beautiful patios. Twelve patios are waiting for you here. That is why the palace is also called the museum of the patios. It is located on Plaza de Don Gome, 2 and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm. On Sundays and public holidays from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm. Entry to the patios alone costs €5, with the palace included it costs €8. However, the patios can be visited free of charge on Wednesdays between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm.