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Why you should go to Córdoba’s mesmerising Patios Festival

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 2022.

Cordoba patios
Cordoba's Patio Festival. Photo: xavier.estruch / WikiCommons

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. 

2022’s Patios de Córdoba edition will comprise 59 patios. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

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 2022 celebration

There is much anticipation for this year’s event, which will be the first proper one held since 2019, before the start of the pandemic. A virtual event was held in 2020 and a smaller extra festival to make up for the cancelled ones was held in October 2021. 

This year, the festival will be held from May 3rd to the 15th, 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 reserve in advance. 

This year’s event will comprise 59 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 

While there are no official Covid-19 restrictions, each owner will be able to decide whether or not they require you to wear a mask in their private patio. A sign at each entrance will indicate if you need to or not. 

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

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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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Britons, Americans and other non-EU/Schengen travellers who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid-19 will not be able to visit Spain for tourism for at least another month, Spanish authorities have confirmed.

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel (including tourism) from most third countries for another month, until June 15th 2022.

That means that non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the past six months cannot go on holiday to Spain during the next month. 

Therefore, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, Indian or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

There had been hopes that the shorter two-week extension to the ban on non-essential travel issued on April 30th, as well as talk of the “orderly and progressive reopening” of the country’s borders, would mean that unvaccinated third country nationals would be allowed into Spain in May.

But in the end, Saturday May 14th’s state bulletin confirmed that Spain will keep the same measures in place for another 31 days, stating that they “will eventually be modified to respond to a change of circumstances or to new recommendations in the context of the European Union”.

Spain’s ban on unvaccinated non-EU travellers is arguably the last major Covid-19 restriction in place in the country, and other EU countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Ireland are allowing unvaccinated tourists in.

This latest announcement by the Spanish government marks the umpteenth extension to non-essential travel from outside of the EU/Schengen area over the past two years of the pandemic, the previous one was due to expire on May 15th. 

But perhaps this extension is the most surprising, as the Spanish health ministry has modified its rulebook to treat Covid-19 like the flu and the country wants to recover the tourism numbers it had pre-pandemic.

The ban affects unvaccinated British tourists in particular, as the UK is still the biggest tourism market for Spain, but Britons’ non-EU status means they have to follow the same Covid-19 travel rules as other third-country nationals.

Vaccinated or recovered third-country travellers

Those who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than two weeks prior to travel to Spain will need to show a valid vaccination certificate with an EMA or WHO approved vaccine.

If their initial vaccination treatment was completed more than 9 months ago (270 days), they’ll need to show they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot. 

As for non-EU/Schengen travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, they will need to show a recovery certificate to prove this

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”, as well as being issued by the relevant authorities.

Exceptions

In early February, Spanish authorities also decided to start allowing unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teenagers aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain for tourism if they provided a negative PCR.

Spain continues to have a small list of low-risk third countries whose travellers visiting Spain for non-essential reasons can enter without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing, recovery or vaccination. 

This is updated weekly and can be checked here by clicking on the PDF under “risk and high risk countries/areas”. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re not vaccinated or recovered, the exceptions for travel to Spain from third countries that fall under the non-essential travel restrictions are:

  • You are a resident in the EU or Schengen country.
  • You have a visa for a long duration stay in an EU or Schengen country.
  • You work in transport, such as airline staff or are in a maritime profession.
  • You work in diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military or civil protection or are a member of a humanitarian organisation.
  • You have a student visa for a country in the EU or Schengen zone.
  • You are a highly qualified worker or athlete whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • You are travelling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  • You are allowed entry due to force majeure or on humanitarian grounds.
  • And as mentioned earlier in the article, if you have a vaccination certificate that Spain’s Ministry of Health recognises, as well as for any accompanying minors (unless they’re under 12 years of age).

READ ALSO: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?

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