Patios of Cordoba, Spain

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Date: Dec, 2014
Location: Cordoba, Spain


Cordoba is well renowned for its patios, outdoor courtyards that provide lighting and ventilation to the other rooms in a building. Its accessible location makes the patio a communal area and the center of family life.

The Cordovan courtyard has its legacy in the Islamic architecture, which was characterized by the construction of facades facing inwards. After the Christian conquest of the city, this architectural structure was maintained and still exists today.

A patio is distinguished by its decoration with many flowers planted in beds and pots, which either hang from the walls or are placed on a Chinese-style paving specific to Cordoba. Wells or fountains embellish the space, creating an image in which water, light and vegetation fuse together.

Although each patio has its own unique architecture (the product of diverse historical evolution), they are generally divided into two basic groups: Monumental and stately courtyards (those pertaining to old palaces of the local aristocracy or notable religious buildings) or Competition courtyards (all the courtyards that have participated in the municipal competition since its beginning in 1921). At the same time, there are two categories within the competition: courtyards with old architecture (those that were built up until the seventies and conserve their main structural features) and courtyards with modern or renovated architecture (those that belong to new houses constructed after the demolition of a previous dwelling, or which have undergone such a degree of intervention that the most significant elements have been lost).

Cordovans began to open their courtyards to the public in 1918. This tradition was formalised when the mayor Francisco Fernández de Mesa organised for the first Courtyards, Balconies and Window Displays Competition in 1921. Three prizes of 100, 75 and 50 pesetas were established, distributed among the only courtyards which participated that year. Given the lack of response, the Council did not organise the competition again until 1933. Today, the Festival de Los Patios is a major event in the city and is held halfway through May when spring is at its best. The Patios are also open to the public during the Christmas season and feature Christmas decorations and nativity scenes.

Click here for more information about the Festival de Los Patios.

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