During the month of May, the small Andalucían town of Córdoba hosts “La Festival de Los Patios.” Nazli and I decided to go to the festival during the weekend of May 2-4th, of course the same weekend of a huge, very rare thunder storm that was due to come through Andalucía (just our luck!) The storm blew through Córdoba on Saturday and we were unable to see any patios, so we decided to cut our time short in Sevilla in order to actually experience the festival and stayed an extra night.
A little more history and background on this quaint festival: Due to the hot, dry climate, homes in Córdoba were built with a central patio – a construction seen all over Andalucía that dates back to the Romans. The inside of the patios were filled with fountains and greenery that trapped the cold air, and distributed it evenly through the house that surrounded the courtyard. An ingenious idea! Now, thousands of years later, patio decoration has taken on a life of its own and at some point, someone realized that these hidden treasures were just too good to be tucked away behind heavy doors and iron gates. So, since 1933, the doors open once a year and the public is invited in to these private courtyards to see the wonders of Córdoba’s patios. These patios not only offer a visual feast of colorful flowers, stone mosaics and water fountains, but also bring out the classic scents of Córdoba: jasmine, lilac, orange blossom, lily and gardenia overpower the historical part of the city. (Side Note: Córdoba is considered the Moorish Capital of Andalucía. One of the Moors decorative signatures of their homes are white-washed outer walls complete with potted geraniums, which has carried on through the centuries. This distinctive characteristic along with these alluring scents makes historic Córdoba look and feel like something out of a fairy-tale).
“Los Patios” is a fairly under-the-radar festival for traveling tourists, then for example, Las Feriasin Sevilla (which happened to be the weekend before) and therefore has that local festival charm. As Nazli and I roamed around the historic quarter waiting in line to see patios, we were surrounded by elderly folks, local Cordobesian families and children dressed in their Sunday best excited to see what their neighbor, or local towns-person or even distant relative had done with their patios this year. This is because the patios are voted on by local Cordobessas and at the end, winners are chosen in regards to different categories – traditional, originality, best kept flowers etc. However, I can tell you that this festival is certainly not fueled by the money – 1st place takes home about 3,000 €, which pretty much covers the maintenance expenses of their patios during the year. People spend all year caring for their courtyards and decorating them in the most elegant ways and then letting thousands of complete strangers into their private spaces because they feel a sense of pride, happiness, satisfaction and joy. I am so happy that we were able to experience such a hidden gem of Andalucía!
[Video clip below of the festival!]