A visit to Cordoba must include taking a look at its patios, the famous courtyards of Cordoba. Regardless of the time of the year, you can visit one of various courtyards that are open to the public. However, it is at the beginning of May that the “Festival de los Patios Cordobeses” or the Courtyards Festival of Cordoba is celebrated and in the year 2022 it will be held from May 3 to 15.
The Courtyards Festival of Cordoba was declared in 1980 as a Festival of National Tourist Interest. And nearly twenty years later, on December 6, 2012, the Festival of the Courtyards was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO at a session held in Paris.
The first Courtyards Festival of Cordoba was convened by the mayor of Cordoba, Francisco Fernandez de Mesa in 1921 as “Concurso de Patios, Balcones y Escaparates” (Contest of Courtyards, Balconies and Shop Displays). Three prizes of 100, 75 and 50 “pesetas” were established and distributed among the few participants. Due to the low participation of the neighbors, the contest was not held again until 1933, when it began to become popular. It is when 16 patios were presented throughout the city, with substantial prizes at the time. However, the celebration was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), and was revived in the fifties and continues until today.
As the years have passed, more criteria have been added for the awarding of prizes in the Courtyards Festival of Cordoba. For example, floral variety, care of pots and flowerbeds and natural lighting were added. A decade later, the awards were divided into two categories: ancient architecture (from the 16th century to 1960) and modern architecture (from 1960 to the present). The City Council of Cordoba, as well as some private companies, award the prizes to the best patios every year, in order to appreciate the efforts made by the citizens to conserve these traditional spots.
The visits to the Courtyards Festival of Cordoba are numerous and continue to grow. The most recent editions exceed one million tourists during the two weeks of the Festival. A unique moment, where the neighbors open the doors of their homes so that both Cordobeses and tourists who arrive in early May to the beautiful city of Cordoba, can enjoy the courtyards.
The courtyards of Cordoba and other Andalusian towns follow the tradition of the Roman and later Muslim houses, where a courtyard opens in the center of a house with cobblestone floor, garden area and the presence of a fountain or a well.
In Andalusia, which is usually one of the hottest regions of Spain, the courtyard becomes the area to cool off, where water, as well as flowers, are the protagonists. Surrounded by two-story houses, the patio became a meeting place where it was common to see the running balconies and stairs, as well as a fountain or areas of community use for doing the laundry.
The Monument to the Caretakers of the Patios is a set of three statues representing the past, present and future of the Fiesta de los Patios. With this sculptural group the city has wanted to pay tribute to all the people whose tireless work has allowed the patios of Cordoba to be declared an “Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
And speaking of patios, in addition to the Courtyards Festival of Cordoba, you can visit the patios and gardens of the Palacio de Viana, which we guarantee are marvelous.
We are grateful to the neighbors of Cordoba, who share these hidden treasures for the enjoyment of all who visit and in this way know not only the traditional Cordovan architecture, but also that taste for plants, color, fragrances, in short, beauty.