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Spain’s Best Hidden Attraction: The Cordoba Patio Festival

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

The Cordoba Patio Festival

A Photo Diary of the Prettiest Spring Town in the World

If there’s one perfect time to visit Cordoba, it’s during the Cordoba Patio Festival. When I was planning my Andalusia itinerary and trying to decide how long to stay in Cordoba, I stumbled on an interesting little festival held each year in the beginning of May. During this month, the town residents compete in the Andalusian version of the All-England Best-Kept Lawn competition and throw open their inner courtyards to judge whose flower bedecked patio is the most beautiful.

Patio means courtyard in Spanish. Also, I hope someone you got my Harry Potter reference.

Originally, I had planned to visit Spain at the end of May/early June but once I saw how beautiful the Cordoba Flower Festival was, I knew I had to shift everything to make sure I could be there in time!

 

Spain Vacation Checklist

 

Where to Stay in Cordoba

Eurostars Palace Hotel – this hotel has a gorgeous inner courtyard and gives travelers a true feel for Cordoba’s patios, which are usually hidden to outsiders except during the festival.

 Compare current room rates on:  Booking.com | Hotels.com | Expedia | Priceline | Agoda

 Read reviews:  TripAdvisor reviews

 

The festival is open to the public so that tourists can ooh and aah over how beautiful these homes are. It’s almost as if the event is a scavenger hunt to find the best kept courtyard – and each one I visited was more charming and aromatic than the next.

I took so many photos that I’ll let them do the talking! The event goes on for a full two weeks so by the time I left it was still ongoing and I’m not actually sure who “won” the competition but my personal favorite was a family who had a pool in their courtyard.

 

I didn’t get to see the judging so I thought it’d be fun to organize my photos of the patios by (my own designated) categories:

Cordoba Patio Theme 1: Green with Envy


Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Theme 2: Pink n’ Pretty


Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Theme 3: Blue Eyed Wonder


Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba Patio Theme 4: A Rainbow of Pots


Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Cordoba-Patio-Festival-21

Cordoba Patio Theme 5: Fountains of Youth


Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

Mucho beautiful, mucho insta-worthy no?

Now that I’ve sufficiently impressed you with photos, I’ll explain a little more about the history behind the homes and the origins of the Cordoba flower festival.

 

The History of the Cordoba Patio Festival


Cordoba was first a Roman than a Moorish city and its local architecture was heavily influenced by each. Homes were designed around a central courtyard (patio in Spanish) with a fountain in the middle to collect rainwater and shield against the heat in ancient Roman times. When the Moors conquered Andalusia, the Muslims added an entrance from the patio to the main street and began the practice of adding flower pots to the walls to provide cooling and a sense of beauty.

There are two main types of courtyards – the more common is a smaller courtyard belonging to a single family, whose rooms surround the patio on all sides. The second, is a larger communal space called a neighbors house (casa de vecinos) where multiple homes surround the courtyard. These tend to be much larger and more elaborate, with long balconies, a communal wash room with adorable wood scrub boards and perhaps a fountain and decorative cobblestones. Obviously a private space is nice.. but the casa de vecinos had so much more space and everyone really came together to beautify the patio together so I’d gladly take up residence in either :)

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

 

How to See the Cordoba Flower Festival


So I’ve made you green with envy huh? Not to worry, you can easily spot the Cordoba Patio Festival in 2017 – the local tourism board organizes the event each year and typically the town wide contest is held the first two weeks of May with judging and prizes awarded at the end of the month.

Zones | Typically different locals enter each year, so you probably won’t see the exact same courtyards that I saw. In general, there are around 6 or 7 main “patio zones” each with a slightly different look and feel. I visited 5 of the zones and over 60 patios and no one patio was the same!

Sessions | 2 sessions a day – the afternoon from 11am – 2pm and the evening from 6pm – midnight. If you’re in town from Monday through Friday, you can stop by at any home during either session and photograph, wander and breathe in the beauty to your heart’s content. Some home owners try to regulate the line of people entering to keep their patios from overcrowding. Funny enough, it was my experience that this ended up leading to longer wait times.

Tickets | If you are in town on the weekend, there used to be a ticketing system where you sign up on the official tourism website to request tickets. They discontinued this in 2016, so I’m not sure what 2017 will look like. While I was in Cordoba, the weekends became extremely crowded, as locals from other Spanish cities come to visit as well so be prepared to wait for a bit! I would also recommend visiting in the morning session.

Siesta | If you only have a short time window in Cordoba, there are 3 patios that are open during the siesta: Palacio de Orive (at Plaza de Orive), Zoco Municipal (at C/ Judios) and Rey Heredia (at 22 Espacio cultural).  You can visit these three when all the others are closed for afternoon siesta!

 

Festival of Flowers and Flamenco


The town holds a number of performances and events as well, including evening music and dance performances. These occur simultaneously with the Cordoba Patio Gardens and are mostly free. You can even see some local flamenco dances!

Read moreDon’t Travel to Cordoba Without Seeing These 5 Sights

Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard
Cordoba Patio Festival flower courtyard

 

Crap! I bought my Spain flight tickets and it’s not in May…


If you can’t make it to see the patios of Cordoba in May, no worries! You can still get an idea and view of Cordoba in flower festival mode by heading to the Palacio de Viana museum, which features a beautiful local home with 12 distinct garden patios. I included some photos of the museum in the “fountain” category above.

Read more: The Perfect 7-Day Andalusia, Spain Itinerary

To check the Cordoba Patio Festival dates for next year, have a look at the official town site. About two weeks before the flower festival, they’ll release a map of all the participating homes and zones with a handy screenshot of each interior patio.

 

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JuliaJune 23, 2016 - 12:43 pm

Awesome pictures! All of those flowers are gorgeous! :)

FlorenceJune 23, 2016 - 4:47 pm

Oh my gosh, it’s fabulous! I’ve been to Cordoba but I haven’t heard about this flower festival before! These pictures are stunning!!

JoyceJune 24, 2016 - 2:34 pm

Is this real? Can’t believe all the detail and care they put into making it so beautiful! So jealous that you got to go in Spring…seriously each photo was prettier than the last!

SherJune 24, 2016 - 3:02 pm

I know right?! it was crazy gorgeous and i’m so glad i was able to make it just in time to see it!

KeriJune 24, 2016 - 3:55 pm

To be honest, this place does not even look real! So ethereal and looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale or something!

FalashaJune 24, 2016 - 5:31 pm

I love these patios, it is so lovely to see vibrant colors and floral designs. Very cool, thanks for sharing.

JenJune 24, 2016 - 9:27 pm

This place is so gorgeous! It’s good that you posted this because I haven’t heard of it before.

CarmenJune 25, 2016 - 9:49 am

Wow this looks sooo beautiful! I’m sure it’s a great feeling to see this whole location live :)

CarinaJune 25, 2016 - 1:22 pm

Stunning pictures, it looks amazing and you look very chic!

[…] for a loop through Andalusia. I was most excited to see Cordoba, as we were in town for the local patio festival when the locals proudly come out to show off their flower bedecked courtyards to […]

JessicaJune 26, 2016 - 9:03 pm

Gorgeous flowers. It truly deserves a tag of being a great spot in spring. I wish I can make it to the Patio Festival next time. :)

NicoleJune 27, 2016 - 12:46 am

Oh my god, that place was tailor made for Instagram! Bonita! xx

Betsy ToddJune 27, 2016 - 2:36 am

Love these photos, amazing

JenniJune 27, 2016 - 4:10 am

Wow those flowers are very pretty

KerriJune 27, 2016 - 6:13 am

Loving the colours and the imagery of this part of Spain. What an awesome location.

christine legerJune 27, 2016 - 8:51 am

flower patio festival? I have never heard of that before, it looks amazing.

Jessica CutrufelloJune 27, 2016 - 12:38 pm

I love love love this! We have something kind of similar in Amsterdam called Open Garden Days. So you may love it too if you’re in the area :)

yukaJune 27, 2016 - 4:06 pm

This place is seriously so beautiful!

SherJune 27, 2016 - 11:39 pm

oh wow! i will have to check that out, thanks for letting me know Jessica!

Castaway with CrystalJune 28, 2016 - 7:20 am

I actually love the sound of this so much, it’s right up my ally.

Karla StrandJune 28, 2016 - 8:59 am

They are all amazing but I prefer #3 the blue themed ones. Thanks for the info – never would’ve known about this little festival if I hadn’t seen your post!

SherJune 28, 2016 - 2:42 pm

So happy to share it with you all. I’m glad you liked the photos Karla :) the pink was my personal favorite!

chelsea finnJune 28, 2016 - 9:54 pm

So many stunning photos!!

Kyna GemJune 29, 2016 - 10:17 am

I AM SO INLOVE WITH YOUR PICS!!!!!!! The place looks straight out of a fairytale!

SherJune 30, 2016 - 2:14 am

Thanks Kyna!! YES it was so pretty I went snap crazy ha!

Tom StevensonJune 30, 2016 - 9:51 am

Looks like a very interesting festival. Lots of great coutryards there!

[…] through the winding, whitewashed streets of the Juderia, the jasmine geranium and orange filled patios and the Renaissance […]

[…] Read more: The Prettiest Spring Town in the World: A Photo Diary of Cordoba’s Patio Festival […]

[…] Read more: The Prettiest Spring Town in the World: A Photo Diary of Cordoba’s Patio Festival […]

DeannaApril 4, 2017 - 3:16 am

I’ll be visiting May 2017 for the patio festival. I’m wondering if it the better to go during the week since it is less crowded. Or are there special events on the weekend that would make it more fun? How many days do you recommend? This is the best post I have seen describing the event.

SherApril 4, 2017 - 3:19 am

Hi Deanna, glad you liked the post! I DEFINITELY recommend the weekdays.

On weekends local Spaniards will head down to see it so it gets incredibly crowded. I believe May 1-2 are a holiday in Spain so if possible avoid those dates. Also I have heard that as the festival goes on it gets more crowded so for example, early May is better than late May.

Nothing special goes on the weekend but there are “secret parties”. Locals will throw their own celebrations and generally its invite only, or friends of friends. I sadly havent been to one of those but I heard thats amazing for a truly local experience! Have a great time!

YiApril 5, 2017 - 5:12 pm

Your pictures are beautiful!! I am planning a trip in May in Adalucia, but most likely I will be in Cordoba 5/15 & 16, which just missed the Patio Festival. Do you by any chance know do I still have access to some backyards and patios after the festival is over? Again, great posting!! I am happy I found it.

SherApril 6, 2017 - 12:26 pm

Thanks Yi! Yes there is a patio museum if you won’t be in town during the festival dates. I have more details in my Cordoba and Spain posts along with photos, if that’s helpful.

[…] through the winding, whitewashed streets of the Juderia, the jasmine geranium and orange filled patios and the Renaissance […]

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