Spring is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year to be in Andalusia. The “cold” winter days are gone. The sun is always shining. There is a festival almost every weekend in some town or city, and of course the flowers bloom and fill the streets with their sweet fragrances.
Nothing truly says, “Spring in southern Spain” more than flowers and fiestas, and in the city of Cordoba they happen to have a special tradition to combine the two.
La Festival de Los Patios is exactly what it sounds like: a festival all about patios. The ones in Cordoba, however, clearly take things to another level of DIY décor, and that’s what draws in thousands of visitors every year from all over the world.
The people of Cordoba love to keep the inner patios of their homes well supplied with plants and flowers all throughout Spring and parts of summer, but during the first two weeks of May, some Cordobeses step things up a notch for this well-known festival and the competition that comes along with it.
Families in over 50 homes throughout the city adorn their balconies and inner patios with hundreds— sometimes even thousands of flowers— all in hopes of being awarded first place for the best patio in one two categories: traditional architecture or modern architecture. The competition is divided into these two categories to encourage newer and future generations to continue with the Cordobes tradition of the inner patio while still adding their own personal touch of style.
The official competition and Festival de Los Patios began in 1921, but the tradition of building inner patios in people’s homes and filling them with plants dates back to several centuries ago when Cordoba was the capital city of Muslim-ruled Spain. Cordoba is a very hot and very dry city. Since electric fans and AC didn’t exist back then, the people had to find other ways to combat the heat, and one of those methods was the inner patio.
Building a patio in the middle of the home with windows facing inward provided a lot of shade. Filling the patio with plants and flowers added some humidity and freshness to the air. The patios were and still are an oasis to escape from the heat. The difference in temperature when you step out from the street and into the patios is a very noticeable one.
We may have our fancy electric cooling systems nowadays, but some old school methods are simply timeless, and that’s what keeps the patios of Cordoba filled with beautiful flowers year after year.
PS. Even if you go to Cordoba after the festival is over, some of the homes still stay open for visitors to enjoy their beautiful patios.