Los Patios de Córdoba
Forming a main part of the famous mayo cordobés, the patios festival is one of the top two tourist pulls to this city along with the Mezquita.
In fact, hotels and Air B&Bs book up for the whole week, months in advance so you have to get in there and book quickly! Prices skyrocket too. A good way of seeing the patios festival without being stung on extortionate accommodation prices would be to stay somewhere else such as Seville or Málaga (both only an hour and a half drive away) and travel to Córdoba for the day to see the patios.
Los Patios de Córdoba is a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage festival and is emblematic of this floral city. One thing I associate with Córdoba immediately whenever I think of it is flowers and plants, from the wild jasmine that crawls the street walls, to orange trees that line the roadsides, to the blue plant pots stuck mounted on walls all around, usually illed with geraniums. There is even an alley called La Calleja de las Flores which is lined with said blue plant pots, leading to a view of the Mezquita.
In the springtime, you can’t move for the fragrance of flowers, it is that strong. It is beautiful but a bit of a nightmare for a hayfever sufferer like myself. (One year I had it so bad that I avoided the patios festival like the plague)
“Cordobés patios obviously vary from one to the other but what can typically be found are: geraniums, pansies, roses, gypsy grass, lemons, oranges, palm trees, jasmine and azahar (orange blossom). They are palettes of colour set against whitewashed houses and decorative blue windows and doors.”
The Patios of Córdoba festival began in 1918 after a long standing tradition of many locals decorating their interior patios with flowers and water features to give a sense of coolness to their homes in the hotter months.
Sponsored by the town hall, it became a contest where participating families open up their doors for one week, along with many municipal buildings showcasing their horticultural brilliance to the public.
The patios festival opens with the Batalla de las Flores (Battle of the Flowers) where floats decked out in flowers grace the streets, chucking flowers at each other and the thousands of people who line the streets to watch the spectacle.
The patios then open up the following day; maps are issued which can be picked up from around the city, with most of them found in the the old town, or Judería.
There’s a reason why people travel from all over the world to see this festival. We see them once a year (some twice with the Christmas edition, more on that later) but they are the result of years of maintenance, nurturing and care.
Cordobés patios obviously vary from one to the other but what can typically be found are: geraniums, pansies, roses, gypsy grass, lemons, oranges, palm trees, jasmine and azahar (orange blossom). They are palettes of colour set against whitewashed houses and decorative blue windows and doors.
The streets do become very busy and there can be substantial queues to enter some of the more popular patios. You can decide if it’s worth the wait and you can go on to visit others in the meantime as they’re that close by.
One of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in all of Córdoba is San Basilio. (Pictured below) It’s the area I’d advise all tourists to go and see, it is postcard perfect. Here, you can find the platerías (artisan silverware makers) which make the famous Filigriana Cordobesa jewellery.
Obviously there are plenty of restaurants and bars to stop off at between patio viewings.
Patios de Córdoba Dates for 2020:
4th May-17th May 2020
Los Patios en Navidad
Since 2006, several patios open up for a week in December for festive viewings. This can be a really efficient way of getting a flavour of the famous Córdoba patios without so many queues (and no hayfever).
Don’t mistake how cold the hottest city in Europe can get in December/January. The outstanding memory I have of visiting the Patios en Navidad is just how chilled to the bone I was. Due to the valley shape of Córdoba, both heat and cold get trapped and the night times can drop below zero.
Typical flowers to be found in Spain at Christmas time and at these patios in particular are the flor de pascua (poinsettia) and orange trees.
In Spain, Christmas trees are not as popular as in Britain and the Nordic countries. What they have is the belén (nativity scene). You will see these in almost all Spanish homes throughout advent ans families will add to it with another animal or character every year. They take great pride in how detailed their belén is! They are to be expected at the Patios en Navidad too.
Continue browsing the photos below to see more of Patios en Navidad: