Every May, the city of Cordoba opens up its courtyards for the Fiesta de Los Patios.

The Fiesta – literally the ‘Festival of Courtyards’ – is a 12-day festival in May. Cordoba’s courtyards are no mere patios – they’re cultural melting pots which have been at the epicentre of local life since the Mesopotamic era, and were incorporated into the key infrastructure of villas by the Romans to offer solace from the piercing heat.

 

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However, it was the Muslims who elevated the city’s famous courtyards from functional to things of beauty. The Moors transformed them into fairy-tale visions of hanging baskets overflowing with roses and geraniums, water fountains bordered by fruit trees, and lavish furniture for receiving guests. Naturally, they became places for communities to congregate – a tradition which is still present today, and ramped up during the festival – a city-wide contest in which neighbours compete to create Cordoba’s most elaborate courtyards. Normally private, the patios are then opened to the public – for free.

The fiesta is a big thing for Cordoba – there are flamenco troupes, impromptu concerts and street parties, and pop-up bars where the local fino wine flows freely. Walking routes catering for various interests are mapped out on the Puerta de los Patios website.

 

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However, there are many places of Andalusia where you can admire the courtyards beyond Cordoba; Estepona, Chipiona, the old town of Marbella, Frigiliana, Ronda, etc.