Córdoba Patio Festival - Fiesta de los Patios 2014

Updated 18 December 2014

Fiesta de los Patios video

The 2014 May Patios Festival in Cordoba

The 2014 May Patios Festival in Cordoba starts on Monday the 5th of May and runs until Sunday the 18th of May. An important point to bear in mind is nearly all the patios close between the hours of 2pm and 6pm. There are a total of 55 patios open to the public this year. 

You can visit from 11am to 2pm and from 6pm to 10pm on all days. Admission is free, although a small donation is appreciated. Dates for all the May Festivals in Cordoba are below. 

Cordoba May Festival Dates 2014

30 April - 4 May  Cruces de Mayo  
5 - 18 May  Patios Contest
24 - 31 MayCordoba Feria
  

Best routes for 2014 Cordoba May Patios Festival

A good place to start would be the Palacio de Viana (Viana Palace), with twelve different courtyards - see below for additional information. The Alcazar Viejo district and the old Jewish quarter are also highly recommended. 

Map for 2014 Cordoba patio festival

The Cordoba town hall has published nine suggested routes you can visit on your own accord. For more information and an interactive map see here - puertadelospatios.com. There is an option for a free downloadable mobile app. At the time of writing, however, the links weren't working. Failing that, this one is recommended. patiosyrutascordoba.com.

Guided tours 

There are guided tours outside of the times and dates mentioned above. The tours last for approximately 2 hours and run from March 1st until the 30th of June 2014. 

In March and April, from Monday to Saturday, the tours start at 5pm. In May and June, from Monday to Saturday, the tours start daily at 7pm. During the month of May there are also tours on Sundays starting at midday. 

Prices - adults 12€, children 9€ (5 - 12 years), under 5 are free. The tours are in Spanish. For English speaking groups and for reservations, call +34 620460024 or email descubrirlospatios@rafaelbarondorador.com 

What is the Fiesta de los Patios? 

The Cordoba Patio Festival,” “La Fiesta de los Patios Cordobeses,” also known simply as the “Los Patios de Cordoba” is Cordoba’s most anticipated yearly event. 

For 13 days in May, the people in Cordoba throw open the doors to their private patios and reveal the secrets within. 

Cordoba patio festival may

Carpets of flowers, handmade Islamic mosaics, striking water features and some of the most beautiful patios in existence. Patios that are normally hidden away behind heavy iron gates for most of the year are suddenly thrust into the public light releasing an exotic scent of jasmine, geraniums, carnations and orange blossom into the air. The Fiesta de los Patios is an event that should not be missed. 

The patios are authentic inner sanctuaries that date back hundreds of years. 

The history of patios in Cordoba

Patios in Cordoba date back to Roman times

In a land where temperatures are extreme, patios need to be well cared for and lovingly maintained. No small feat considering daytime temperatures often pass 40C in the summer months and night time frosts are not uncommon. 

To compensate for this harsh climate, the Romans and later on, the Muslims built houses in a particular way, by incorporating courtyards into the centre of the building. These courtyards were special inner spaces where families congregated and escaped the summer heat. The Romans also used the patios to collect rain water. 

Cordoba - patio

The Muslims, however, are the ones that really took patios and inner spaces to a whole new level. They are credited with introducing water features and plants to increase the sense of freshness upon entering the property. Something that works surprisingly well. Temperatures are said to be between 10 - 15C cooler within some patios. A big difference in the summer months. 

The Muslims also emphasised the social side. A patio should not just be a place of a beauty and tranquillity, but a place for people to meet and socialise.

This custom has been carried through hundreds of years and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Fiesta of the Patios in Cordoba was the most recent Spanish addition added to UNESCO’s list of World Intangible Cultural Heritage sites in 2012, a prestigious honour that brings Spain’s total number of UNESCO recognised cultural highlights to thirteen. 

Established in 2008, the UNESCO intangible Cultural Heritage list aims to safeguard “contemporary living expressions and traditions that countless groups and communities worldwide have inherited from their ancestors and transmit to their descendants.”

No stranger to UNESCO recognition, Spain has a total of 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites, second only to Italy that has 48. 

Cordoba’s old town is the world's largest urban area designated a World-Heritage site by UNESCO.

The competition

Cordoba patio festival - flowers

The Patio Festival is also a competition and the competition is fierce. Known as the Concurso Municipal de los Patios de Córdoba. The prizes are much sought after. 

According to Manuel Garrido Moreno, president of the Amigos de los Patios Association, says: “The Patio Festival is to Cordoba what the San Fermín festival is to Pamplona.” 

The Patio festival was first organised by the Cordoba City Hall in 1918, with the first competition starting in 1921. The competitive aspect was seen as a clever tactic to preserve the tradition, which over the years was coupled with financial aid to help participants pay for expenses and make sure the tradition didn't die. The Patio Festival was suspended for three years during the Spanish Civil War, but has been going strong ever since. 

Prizes are given for the most beautiful and best preserved patios. There are numerous categories including; traditional, modern, religious, Islamic, Mudejar, single family dwelling, community effort, artistic use of water, illumination, flower variety, architectural preservation and much more!

The biggest prizes have been donated and tend to be themed, the electricity company Endesa for example, provides a special prize to the best illuminated patio.

It is not all about flowers though. Most of the displays are accompanied by music, with traditional folk and flamenco performances, as well as a variety of wines and tapas for visitors to enjoy. Cordoba in May acts as a magnet to some of the biggest names in Flamenco with impromptu concerts and street parties on almost every corner. 

Cordoba Patio Festival 2014

The dates have been confirmed for this year's Patio festival. The festival starts on May 5th and ends May 18th 2014.

The numbers of patios which are entered into the competition vary from year-to-year. Tickets are required, but entrance is free. The tickets can be obtained from any of the participating patios. 

Some of the larger patios can be visited throughout the year. Normally a small fee is charged and if travelling with a group (15+ people) special tours can be organised (see above). 

A visit to the Palacio Museo de VianaViana Palace should be high on anyone's wishlist. A living, breathing patio museum that offers visitors over five centuries of history. For additional information and the website - see here and for a map

The patios also opened up briefly around Christmas time and are decorated with Christmas ornaments and lights. 

May in Cordoba

May is a big month in Cordoba. The biggest. The month long celebrations are known collectively as the Festival de Mayo. There are three main events throughout the month. 

The month starts with the Cruces de Mayo (Festival of the Crosses) with Cordoba residents competing with each other for the best decorated cross made from flowers. There is also a procession of floats known as La Batalla de las Flores, the Battle of the Flowers.

This is closely followed by the Festival de los Patios. Far in a way the most anticipated event on the calendar.  

The celebrations are finished off with the Feria de Cordoba (the Cordoba Fair). With visitors and locals alike dancing the nights away to traditional flamenco music. 

There is no better way to welcome Spring. A welcome that is filled with flowers, aromas, lights and life!

Essential information

The dates vary slightly from year-to-year for whole Festival de Mayo. Generally speaking, the Festival de Patios starts around the end of the first week of May, straight after the Cruces de Mayo. 

The final dates are published by the town hall in mid-January each year and are published here

The patios were traditionally divided up into six designated areas. Each area has between 8 and 12 patios to visit. The six areas are; Santa Marina-San Andrés, San Lorenzo-San Agustin,Regina-La Magdalena,San Pedro-Santiago,Judería and San Basilio.   

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