Why you should go to Córdoba's mesmerising Patios Festival

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Why you should go to Córdoba's mesmerising Patios Festival
Put Córdoba's Patios Festival on your bucket list. Photo: xavier.estruch / WikiCommons

Every May, locals in the Andalusian city of Córdoba open up their private courtyards to visitors, who are left mesmerised by their dizzying floral displays. Here's everything you need to know about Córdoba's Patios Festival in 2023.


La Fiesta de los Patios Cordobeses or Córdoba's Patios Festival celebrates the Andalusian city of Córdoba's stunning inner courtyards and has been inscribed on UNESCO's list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity since December 2012.

Held each May, residents show off their patios by decorating them with bright flowers, leafy green plants, and fountains, and compete for a prize to see who can create the most beautiful one. 


What to expect 

Dozens of usually private patios are thrown open to the public in a riot of gorgeous colour and a celebration of spring.

Typically owners are very proud to show off their decorated patios and will be happy to chat with you about their creations. Some patio owners may even have drinks and snacks on offer, inviting you into what almost feels like a private party. 

In the evening, the whole city comes out to celebrate in the public squares with lots of lights, live music, dancing, outdoor dining and stalls selling drinks. 

Córdoba's 2023 celebration

This year, the festival will be held from Tuesday May 2nd to Sunday 14th, and patios will be open from 11am to 2pm and again from 6pm until 10pm, except on the last day of the festival where they will close at 8:30pm. 

All of the patios will be free to enter and there will be no need to book in advance. 


This year's event will comprise 62 patios, which will be found along six different routes. You can find an interactive map of the events here, where there's also a 'virtual visit' option for those unable to attend in person.

There will also be a new category introduced this year - Patios Singulares - in which non-profit religious entities, associations or congregations located on the perimeter of the historic centre can also participate. 

The Córdoba Patios Festival dates back to 1921. Photo: Jon Hoefer / Pixabay

What to be aware of 

Remember that these patios are people's private gardens and you must respect them as so. The gardens only are on display and no access will be granted to private homes. Public toilets will be allocated by the city council - you will not be able to use them inside people's houses. 

Some of the patios are very small and space is limited, so you may only be able to spend a short amount of time there, in order to allow others in too. 

People with disabilities or reduced mobility may be able to visit specific patios that have been fitted out with special ramps. You can see which these are by accessing the map here

Remember that these patios are people's private gardens. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Origins of the festival 

Córdoba is very hot and dry, and because of this, the buildings were designed with inner courtyards to create airflow throughout. First created by the Romans and later Moors, the patios or courtyards became integral parts of the houses here. Throughout the centuries, they became extensions of the home, filled with plants and flowers, outdoor furniture and hanging pots. 

Locals began opening up their private patios back in 1918, but it wasn't until 1921 when the first patios festival was held. It was created when the then mayor, Francisco Fernández de Mesa opened the Patios, Balconies and Shop Windows Contest for the first time, along with music, dancing and wine.

The event wasn't held again until 1933, but in the years in between, the city also revived another tradition - that of the Cruces de Mayo, where huge crosses were set up and decorated with flowers.
The festival was interrupted again with the outbreak of the Civil War and it would not really be held officially again until 1944. This was also the year when specific judging criteria were established, taking into account the architecture, decoration and character of the patio. 
In subsequent years, the festival grew bigger and bigger and the competition grew in intensity too with bigger monetary prizes being awarded to the winners. Then in 1988, it was decided that the judges should take into account the ornamental aspects, evaluating floral variety, care of the flowerpots and beds, and natural lighting.
Different prize categories were introduced a decade later for both old and modern architecture, which remains in place today. 


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