Find more about the Cordoba Patio Festival and the Cordoba’s magnificent patios.
Every year in May, the city of Cordoba, Spain celebrates its traditional Cordoba Patio Festival. In this festival, patio owners decorate their ornate grills and balconies with plants and flowers; mainly gitanillas (ivy geraniums), geraniums and carnations. The Cordoba Patio Festival is a true representation of Andalusian folklore that manifests itself in its entire splendor in the early spring. Normally the patios are privately owned, but during the festival they are open to the public. The best conserved and most beautiful patio is voted on and the winner takes home the coveted prize.
The patios were constructed in Cordoba throughout the city's history and some of them date back to the 10th century. These exotic patios were built by Arabic architects and within them the concept of the oasis was exemplified; greenery and water, both essential for survival in the desert lands from which the Arabs originated.
In the 8th century, Ferdinand III of Castile conquered Cordoba. The Christians that inhabited the city took over the best houses and sometimes united several smaller houses together. They are known today as Solariega houses and maintain their original structures and Arabic patios. It was not until the end of the Catholic Kings period and the Renaissance that the patios began to incorporate Italian influences. It was at this time that receiving patios or courtyards started appearing. This is where visitors were met and the horse stalls were kept. The courtyard also gave access to the house which usually consisted of two floors: the lower floor was the summer dwelling and the upper floor the winter dwelling. These solariegas houses still maintain central courtyards that are representative of the Renaissance.
With the emergence of the bourgeoisie in the 18th and 19th centuries, new middle class construction seemed to imitate that of the older solariegas manors of the nobility, although to a smaller scale. Also during this time, foreign influences and decorations started to influence the courtyard patios: marble, central fountains, closed galleries in upper floors, etc.
By the 20th century, as a result of the migration from the countryside to the cities, the old solariegas houses were transformed into common apartments in which the rooms were rented out and the bathrooms, kitchens and other common areas were shared.
Some of these old buildings have been returned to their original functions. Nowadays they are museums, schools or other official centers that has contributed to the excellent conservation of the famous courtyard patios.
Cordoba Patio Courtyards during Christmas
It is not only the month of May when the Cordoba patios and courtyards are shown to the public. During Christmas they are also decorated with Christmas ornaments, poinsettias and lights are open to visitors. On these dates food samplings take place and Christmas carols are sung in the courtyards that welcome thousands of visitors who go to experience these enclosed pieces of paradise. And, as always, the best courtyard patio receives a prize.