The Patio Festival of Córdoba - 2014

In 1921, the Town Hall organised  a competition of "Courtyards and Crosses" in the first week of May. This has become an annual tradition, and the competition is fiercely contested.

Due to the hot-dry summer climate of Córdoba, first the Roman inhabitants and later the Moslems, adapted the design of the typical houses to their needs, centering the house around an inner courtyard or patio. Normally there was a water feature, a fountain or a well in the middle of the patio. The Moslems further adapted the style, giving the house an entrance from the street, passing through some kind of porch, and it was them who began to fill the patios with plants to give a feeling of coolness and freshness.

Now the patios are grouped into six separate walks. We had driven up for just the day, and two walks were all we could manage. To do all six would require three pretty hectic days, not to mention time that could well be spent exploring the old-town. Be warned though - it is extremely popular and the best hotels fill up many months ahead.

Here is a small selection of the zillion photos I took.........

Each patio that is an official entrant in the competition, and is listed on one of the walks, has the entrance marked by two conifer trees. Much nicer than some sign or label

This was one of the first that we visited, and as is so often the case, it was one of the favourites. You can see the Moorish influence with the passageway leading from the street into the patio.

There was a really lovely open sitting room just inside the street door, off the entrance hall - what a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by.

This is the patio itself. Shade offered from the balcony and the almost obligatory water feature in the corner.

There were many people visiting the patios, and it was quite hard to take pictures without hoards of people milling about in front.
To water all the pots high on the wall, most people use a small watering-can on a long pole. No mean feat though in a patio such as this with so many plants.

Most of the patios were floored with Terra-cotta tiles, or, as this case, with cobbles.

Not all the patios were square or rectangular. This one was dominated by an interesting triangular well, almost looking like the bows of a ship, at least to my nautically-biased eye.

Most of the patios had a varied collection of plants. This one had a lot of orchids in addition to the more normal plants.

In some of the patios the plants seemed to be vying with each other for space. Imagine how much time it would take to water each and every plant in this patio.

Almost always there is the obligatory well, fountain or small waterfall.

Many of the wells are carefully decorated.

Some of them reminded me of the wells in Derbyshire we used to visit as kids, when the villages had a "Well-dressing" competition.

This was a nice shady patio, with a guard-cat on duty.

If there is not a well in the middle of the patio, there is usually a small waterfall or similar against a wall.

This was a more modern-looking well made of wrought iron. Definitely not Moorish in origin!

This water feature owes more to a Belgian influence than a Moorish one!

This is a typically Moorish-influenced entrance to the patio.

Another very imposing entrance - the hallway was a veritable museum, leading to a very pleasant patio.

In one nice shady patio, we found the owner busy at crochet work. With little persuasion she showed us what she was making. She had invested many many hours in this work.

A shady patio seemed the perfect place for doing such craft-work.

Some people showed great imagination in how they planted their plants.

The large pot is a wine jug, with the bottom knocked out and hung upside down.

The small plants are growing in shells that are pinned to a pillar.

Another display of plants growing in shells fastened to a wall.

In an otherwise traditional patio, replete with well, somebody had imaginatively used a couple of sections of aluminium expandable heating duct in which to grow some plants.

There was a large house that was open for tours, but as we were running out of time, we had time for just a quick look at their large, formal patio. The cloister-like passages on each side offered welcoming shade.

Many of the patios had balconies on the upper floor, overlooking the patios. A perfect place for yet more plants.

This was a very large patio - more like a "Corralone". In the centre, there was a building that was divided into small shops and workshops. In what had obviously been the original house, the old kitchen and wash-house had been preserved.
Some of the patios had retractable roof-screens over the patio. This made them much cooler did not make them easier to photograph.

In conjunction with the Patio Festival, there was a competition running for the best decorated balconies. This may not have had the prettiest balconies, but surely they had the most flowers.

Be warned - next year we plan to be there for three days - imagine how many pictures we will have then!!!!

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