Cordoba Patio Festival is one of the most stunning festivities in Andalucia. While there are a lot of beautiful patios in Cordoba that you can see all year round, there are a whole lot of stunning places, mostly private homes, that open their courtyards only during the festival.
This is also the only time you can visit all the patios for free (though a tip is always welcome.) But is it easy to see the patios during the festival, what is the best way to see them, and where should you go?
There are a lot of questions coming up when planning a trip to Cordoba during this colorful flower festival. Cordoba comes to life and is so much more than the usual UNESCO city.
I am here to answer all your questions about Cordoba Patios Festival so that you can get the most out of your visit.
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Table of Contents
What is Cordoba Patio Festival – Brief History
The patios date back to Moorish times when they wanted to create an outdoor space that was cool for the women to walk around without being seen by passersby.
They turned into becoming the central part of the house where the women could cook as well as the source of water, normally with a well to source water without leaving the house.
As people moved away from the old Moorish palaces in Cordoba to move into larger cities, they were abandoned. This made them perfect places to move into for families coming from the countryside in the 19th century.
Since these people were poor, they could not afford a whole mansion, so they would rent a room for their entire family and the courtyard turned into the communal area where families would sit outside, cook in the communal kitchen, get water in the well, and watch each other’s children.
The families sharing the patios turned into extended families and together, the neighbors created a small oasis with potplants and flowers decorating their little outside area.
The first patio festival was held in 1921 and the objective was to not lose the tradition of keeping the patios pretty. To keep the locals interested, it would be a monetary prize for the most beautiful patios, and that tradition stands to this day.
Since then, a lot of patios have been restored to enter the patio festival and as they can win money to keep working on the patios and create even more spectacular spaces, it is a true benefit of entering.
The Cordoba Patios Festival today
There are 3 main competitions of the Cordoba Patio Festival that neighbors can enter, and they are as follow:
- Old architecture (houses that have not been renovated after 1960)
- Modern architecture (houses newer than 1960 or that have been renovated after 1960)
- Singular patios (where no one lives, but they enter to keep the patrimony)
Patios must be within the historic center to enter Cordoba Patio Festival.
The Festival de Los Patios in Cordoba has turned into something more than a monetary gain for those involved. In 2012, the Patio Festival in Cordoba was listed as one of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity sites.
As you visit the patios you will notice what a pride the owners and caretakers of the courtyards hold for their work and most are more than happy to share information and talk about their work.
During the patio festival in Cordoba, you can visit all the patios in the competition for free. But most of the private patios have a basket where you can leave some tips.
This is not mandatory, but highly appreciated. Can you imagine if you had been working hard every day to display the most beautiful flowers and plants? Even if you drop a few cents for each patio, it will make a difference to these amazing people.
Yet, what is most appreciated as I noticed, is to give positive feedback on the patios. The grateful smiles from owners and caretakers were invaluable!
Besides seeing the patios, there are several events throughout the evenings with live music, Flamenco shows, and so on which are free to join. So make sure you are ready for drinks and save energy for learning the Sevillanas when the sun sets!
When is Cordoba Patios Festival?
The Cordoba Patios Festival is celebrated the first 2 weeks in May every year for 10 days. It is essential to book your accommodation a long time in advance as people from all across the country come to Cordoba to experience the most famous Cordoba festival.
Over the years, it has also become more popular among foreign tourists, though it is still mostly Spanish tourists. I have written a post about the best neighborhoods to stay in Cordoba so that you can start planning your trip in advance.
Do you have to pay to see the patios during the Fiesta de Los Patios?
All the courtyards that compete in the contests open their doors to visitors during the festival and entry is free. This includes the patios that are open to visitors all year round and usually take an entrance fee.
That said, as I mentioned above, I do recommend leaving some tips, if not to all, at least your favorites. It will be greatly appreciated!
Should you book a Patio Tour or not?
So, we just settled that you can see all the patios for free during the patio festival. Thus, it is not necessary to take a Cordoba Patio Tour.
That said, we did a guided tour in the morning to get started with the day and I would have done it again.
It is a great way to get more insight into the history of the Cordoba Patio Festival and a local’s perspective on the importance of the festival for the locals and the preservation of the city’s culture.
I loved hearing the history of the different patios we visited too. The guide was always ready to answer any questions (and as a content creator I had A LOT!) and it was cool to get more background information about the patios.
For this reason, I highly recommend a guided patio tour. It will give you more when you visit the rest of the patios independently.
Opening hours during Cordoba Festival of the Patios
One thing to take into account when going to the patio festival is the opening hours because they do take a long siesta at midday where you must find something else to do.
Patio opening hours: 11:00-14:00 and 18:00-22:00. On the last day of the competition, they close at 20:30.
Note that the patios that are not part of the competition, like the Viana Palace, follow their regular opening hours.
For us, it was pretty nice to get a break from the patios for a few hours and we went to eat lunch and laid down in the park charging batteries.
However, if you only have one day in Cordoba or a weekend, you might want to take advantage of these hours to explore other attractions like the Mosque-Cathedral, the Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos, or some of the palaces.
Where to stay during Cordoba’s Festival of Patios
As mentioned above, make sure you book early to ensure a place to sleep during Cordoba’s patio festival. If you manage to book early enough, you might even get a room in one of the houses that enter the competition.
I recommend staying within the historic center when visiting the patio festival as that’s where it all happens. I wrote a whole post about the best areas to stay in Cordoba, but will list my top picks for different budgets below.
LUXURY: Hotel Madinat – an exquisite hotel in the heart of Cordoba with a hamman and terraces with views of the Mosque-Cathedral. It is situated in a historical building and gives you the impression of stepping back in time – to a time of kings and opulence.
MID-RANGE: Hotel Posada de Vallina by MiRa – an incredible historical building with many original stone walls, arches, and columns. The decor, paintings, and patio indicate the opulence of a palace of the middle ages.
BUDGET: Soho Boutique Atalia – a lovely boutique hotel in the heart of the Jewish Quarter with a small garden. They have private parking.
Is Cordoba Patio Festival accessible?
Because most of the patios entering the patio festival are on private property, most of them are not wheelchair accessible, yet some are.
I suggest going to the tourist office to get a map of the different patio routes of the festival with all the 53 competing patios listed.
There, you will see that around 15 patios are wheelchair accessible, and about a handful can accommodate wheelchair users, though the patio is not completely accessible.
That’s good news considering the tiny spaces many patios are made out of, and old narrow entrances can be a challenge to renovate for private people.
With all the life and excitement going on in the streets too, there is no reason to skip the patio festival if you are a wheelchair user.
Is Cordoba Patio Festival Dog Friendly?
Cordoba Patio Festival is surprisingly dog friendly! When we were there, we saw temperatures up to 36 degrees Celsius during the day and there was no way we could leave Ayla in the van.
We joined a patio tour in the morning and did the rest by ourselves. For both, we were prepared for one of us to wait outside with the dog while the other one went inside to see the patio.
We (or the guide) asked nicely before entering each patio if she could come in or not and in about 95% of the places she was welcome.
A particular thank you to the lovely owner of the patio of San Basilio no. 20 for bringing water out for Ayla and another dog waiting in a queue for another patio on the same street.
There is nothing that warms a dog mum’s heart more than people thinking about her pooch.
That said, if you bring your dog, make sure you bring plenty of water (you can fill up in drinking fountains throughout the city) and a collapsible bowl to drink from.
If the day is hot, you can also shower the dog in the drinking fountains, Ayla loved it!
Pros and Cons of Going to Cordoba During the Patio Festival
There are so many reasons to visit Cordoba during the Patio Festival. Cordoba comes to life like no other time of the year with music and dance everywhere you turn.
Here are some of the pros and cons of going during the festival versus visiting the patios outside of the festival.
Pros of visiting Cordoba during the Patio Festival
- All patios are free to enter
- There are free Flamenco and Sevillanas performances
- The vibe is fantastic!
- You can see patios that are closed the rest of the year
Cons for visiting Cordoba during the Patio Festival
- There are large queues to enter
- It is hard to get good photos due to the crowds inside the patios
To get the best photos of the patios, I recommend going early before the crowds get there. In my experience, it was way busier after the siesta than before the siesta.
Patios to visit during Cordoba Patio Festival
There are a whole lot of patios to see during the Fiesta de los Patios in Cordoba and unless you stay there a whole week dedicated only to seeing patios, there is a big chance you won’t be able to see them all.
We spent a whole day from morning to night visiting 19 patios and trust me, I don’t recommend chewing over that many in only a day.
Instead, take it slow, go on a couple of guided tours to learn more about the Courtyard Festival Cordoba is so proud of, drink with the locals, and soak in the energetic vibe that the festival brings out in the streets.
Here are some of the patios you can expect to see only during the patio festival, but note that there are often new patios that come and some withdraw from the contests.
CHECK OUT OUR VLOG FROM THE PATIO FESTIVAL
Casa Romero de Torres
The patio belongs to the Julio Romero de Torres Museum, yet it is only open to the public during the patio festival. The courtyard itself is like a museum as the Romero de Torres family loved to collect old Roman sculptures and ancient artifacts.
I particularly liked the patio as it was an elegant blend of statues and plants under the shade of the orange trees (my favorites!)
You can also take a peek inside the artist’s workshop where you can see old family pictures and different artifacts.
This cute patio entered Cordoba Patio Festival for the first time in 2023. It is a lovely space with light blue pots on the walls as thick, green plants climbing on the walls exploded to the sun. They work as an insulation to keep the heat out from the building.
Surrounding the patio, there are a few rooms with old artifacts, lovely chairs, and tables to make it a cozy outdoor space for the neighbors.
Calle Aceite no. 8
This was one of my favorite patios during the Patio Festival in Cordoba. Such a lush, green space with a small shaded patio as you enter with a cute little fountain.
As you pass the front patio, you will be met by a large sunny patio with a big fountain with glittering water surrounded by tall plants and flowers giving you the feeling of a little jungle of plants. All so alive.
There is a seating area, trees, and small fountains and I can’t even imagine how cool it must be to live there!
Calle Palma no. 3
This perfectly decorated oasis is an explosion of colors wrapped in lush green plants. The central fountain is beautifully surrounded by flowers and the scent of sweet flower fill your nostrils from the moment you enter.
This is a small patio, but it truly fills all your senses!
Calle san Basilio no. 15
After seeing a fair amount of intense color splashes during the patio festival, the one in Calle San Basilio 15 is such an elegant contrast with its neat potplants giving room to the whitewashed walls to give light and graceful hanging plants drawing lines on the walls.
While I’m sure these plants will grow with the years, I surely enjoyed the grace they and the elegance of the patio.