Feria de los Patios de Córdoba
Flower & Patio Festival in Córdoba
Feria de los Patios de Córdoba or The Patios Festival of Córdoba is a flower and patio festival celebrated during the second and third week of May in Córdoba, Spain. Many of Córdoba’s oldest houses in the historic center of town open their beautiful patios or courtyards to the public and compete in the patio contest. The winner is based on both the architectonic value and the floral decorations of the patios. During the festival, people are welcome to enjoy courtyards of incomparable beauty, packed with trees and flowers, fountains and accessories.
It is usually very difficult and expensive to find accommodation in the city during the festival.
The opening hours of the festival tend to stay the same every year, for the week of the festival the patios are open from 11am to 2pm and from 6pm to 10pm every day. All patios are free to enter but small donations are appreciated by the hardworking owners, who put it towards the upkeep of the patios. Owners of patios are always present during opening hours, to chat with visitors and answer any questions they might have about preparation for the festival and the species of flowers on display. These Córdobans are understandably very proud of their beautiful courtyards.
The Best Patio Route
A great place to start a route through the patios is at the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana which is a 15th century manor house surrounded by 12 beautiful courtyards, situated in the Santa Marina neighborhood. The other neighborhood to visit would be the San Basilio or Alcazar Viejo neighborhood and the Old Jewish Quarter”.
The amount of patios change each year and thus, the routes do as well. There are usually suggested routes on the Puerta de los Patios website. The website is updated every year with the patios taking part and the new routes so it is worth having in with you.
Guided Tours through the Cordoba Patios
There are a number of tour operators who offer guided tours outside of the opening times and dates of the Patios Festival. There’s also a selection of tours to choose from depending on your budget, time frame and the size of your group. The majority of tours last around two hours and take place in the months of March until June. There are usually tours all year round though.
The History of the Patios of Cordoba
Due to a hot, dry climate homes in Córdoba were traditionally built around a central patio. The tradition dates back to Roman times and the moors made further adjustments, giving the house an entrance from the street which passed through a porch, and filling the courtyard with plants to give the sensation of freshness.
Filling the central patio with plants and water features has always been a way to keep local homes cool. This was important considering that in Cordoba, daytime temperatures often surpass 40°C in the summer months.
The Patio contests is sponsored by the Córdoba City Hall and began in 1918, with the first competition taking place in 1921. The Patios Festival was suspended for three years during the Spanish Civil War, but has been going strong ever since.
There are clearly two types of courtyard.
The family home patio is one that forms part of a house in which the rooms are arranged around the courtyard and usually has arches and either a clay tiled or decorative pebbled floor.
A casa de vecinos or neighbors house have more than one individual home looking out onto the courtyard. Unfortunately these are less common nowadays. They would usually have two floors and the courtyard would be made more attractive by the long balconies, staircases and baked clay roof tiles. The floors would usually have decorative pebbles and there is often a well instead of a fountain, as well as a communal washing room. The oldest recorded example of this can be found in the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana.
The Patio Competition
The competition was thought to be an incentive to finance people who wanted to preserve the tradition. There are two awards which are given for the most attractive floral display and the best architecturally preserved patio. One is for “arquitectura antigua” or antique architecture and the other for “arquitectura moderna” or modern architecture. During the festival, you can here the sound of flamenco playing in the patios, there are also usually a variety of wines and tapas on offer for visitors to enjoy.