Courtyards Festival in Cordoba, a World Heritage event



Every year in May, the city of Cordoba in Andalusia celebrates its famous Courtyards Festival, a tradition which was declared a part of our Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO in 2012 and during which many of the courtyards or "patios" in the historic quarter are open to visitors for a few days. The festival is a competition to discover the most beautiful courtyards in the city, and fills the streets with colour, the scent of jasmine and orange blossom and the strains of flamenco.

The courtyards of Cordoba are a living tradition dating back to Roman times, and which continued throughout the Arab presence until being handed down to us today. The traditional houses in the city are noted for their courtyards surrounded by whitewashed walls adorned with hanging flowerpots filled with colourful geraniums, jasmine, carnations and orange blossom. Throughout the days of the Festival, most of the courtyards in the old part of town throw their doors open to the public, and often feature flamenco shows and the chance to sample the delicious tapas of Cordoba, accompanied by a glass of Montilla-Moriles sherry.

Where to see them

The most popular quarters to visit Cordoba's traditional courtyards include Alcázar Viejo, between the Alcázar and the parish church of San Basilio; the neighbourhoods of Santa Marina and La Magdalena; and the area around San Lorenzo. You will also find some of the oldest and most beautiful in the old Jewish quarter, near the Great Mosque-Cathedral.

May, a month of festivities in Cordoba

As well as the Courtyards Festival, Cordoba celebrates several other events in May, making this the perfect month to visit the city. Before the courtyards competition, the popular festival of the Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses) fills the streets with crosses made from flowers; this is followed by the Balconies and Grilles Competition, held jointly with the Courtyards Festival when the city is garlanded with floral decorations; and the month concludes with the Cordoba Fair, when the fair precinct and its surroundings throng with horse-drawn carriages, traditional Flamenco costumes, "Sevillana" dances and sherry.

Visit the courtyards any time of year

If you can't make it to Cordoba for the Festival, you can still see the courtyards by arranging a special visit through this website.Another option is to organise a visit to the Palacio de Viana, an official national heritage site and garden, known as the Courtyards Museum thanks to its own 12 courtyards.

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