If you’re planning on visiting the Cordoba Patios Festival in 2024, or want to know if you can see these famous Spanish courtyards all year round, this guide has the answers. After visiting the patios of Cordoba in May, after the festival had ended, I’ve pulled together all the information you’ll need if you want to arrange your own visit.
If you have a specific question, use the table of contents below to navigate this post.
Table of Contents
What are the patios of Cordoba?
You might not have heard of the Cordoba patios, but to those in the know, they’re pretty famous. In fact, these traditional Cordoba courtyards were the main reason we visited the Spanish city, after stumbling across photos of them a few months before.
Los Patios de Cordoba are a unique tradition and one that I’ve not come across elsewhere on our travels. Most of the patios are in private homes, with the owners opening up their beautiful courtyards to share their pride and joy with the public – visitors come from near and far.
You’ll notice a bit of a format as you wander around the different Cordoba patios. Many have whitewashed walls that are adorned with an astonishing number of plant pots. Trailing floral blooms and lush greenery punctuate the stark white, bringing nature into the heart of the city. You’ll find everything from sweet honeysuckle to cheerful geraniums – the colours and scents put on quite a show. Tinkling water fountains and family artefacts often add to the magic, giving a real sense of being in a family home.
What is the Cordoba Patios Festival?
The Cordoba Patios Festival celebrates this floral courtyard tradition, giving residents a chance to gain recognition for all their hard work planting, nurturing and watering. Patio owners compete against each other, with lots of friendly rivalry spurring on artistic creativity. The patio festival has been given ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ status by UNESCO, putting it firmly on the map for curious visitors.
The Patios of Cordoba are at their photogenic best during the festival, which is usually held in the first two weeks of May each year. The 2023 Cordoba Patio Festival ran from the 2nd to the 14th of May. This is when the greatest number of patios are open, with residents across the old city taking part. There are usually around 50 beautiful patios you can visit!
Patio owners enter their floral courtyards into the Cordoba Patios Festival competition, in the hopes of winning the coveted accolades – it’s a great sense of pride for those involved. Some residents have been taking part in the competition for years, passing on skills and responsibilities down through the generations.
There are a couple of entrance categories, denoting the different types of patios in Cordoba. Courtyards can either be entered into the “old” or “new” architecture category, depending on the design elements and date of the property.
If you want to see as many courtyards as possible, then visiting the city during the festival of the patios in Cordoba is your best bet. The open courtyards are dotted around the historical centre, spread out across several districts. You could spend several days ticking them all off your list, although once you’ve seen a dozen, you’ve pretty much got the gist. There is a downside to visiting during the Patios of Cordoba Festival – everyone else will be checking them out too!
Dates for the Cordoba Flower Festival 2024 will be announced on the official patios website, so keep an eye out if you want to pay a visit.
History of Los Patios de Cordoba
The Cordoba Patios Festival is a relatively recent idea, but the tradition can be traced back hundreds of years to Roman times. Shaded courtyards were a common feature, giving respite from the intense Spanish heat. When the Moors arrived, they further developed the concept into the riad-style buildings we see today. The Muslim influence on the patios of Cordoba is still very much in evidence.
The additions of foliage and water features created a haven of nature, hidden away in the urban sprawl. Sometimes there are birds and even turtles too! If you’ve been to Morocco, you’ll be well acquainted with the Moroccan riad, especially in places like Marrakech and Fes. The Cordoba patios certainly wouldn’t be out of place in North Africa with all their Arab influences.
Where are the Cordoba patios?
During the Patios de Cordoba Festival, there are six different districts, each with a courtyard trail to explore. Unless you’re going to be dedicating several days to Cordoba courtyards, it’ll be impossible to visit all the patios. Therefore, it’s best to choose just one or two routes and focus on those.
Alcazar Viejo district – the San Basilio patios
In the festival period and after it, the Alcazar Viejo area is the most visited. It’s located down near the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs, so can easily be fitted into your sightseeing schedule. In this area, you’ll find the famous San Basilio and Martin de Roa streets, each of which have several patios you can visit.
There are also a couple of bonus patios on Duertas and Postrera, just around the corner from Calle San Basilio. The Alcazar Viejo area is the one we focused on, and it was both beautiful and sufficient for our interest. We didn’t feel like we needed to go searching for more in the different districts.
Patios on the following streets in the Alcazar Viejo district are open during and after the Cordoba Festival:
- San Basilio: 14, 15, 17, 20, 22, 40, 44
- Martin de Roa: 2, 7, 9
- Duartas: 2
- Postrera: 28
There is a dedicated website for the San Basilio Patios which has more information about visiting.
The Juderia district and other patio routes
During the Cordoba Patio Festival, there are five other districts, each with its own patio route. These are likely to be a little quieter than the popular Alcazar Viejo neighbourhood, so you might be in with a better chance of some good photos at peak times.
The routes are all clearly marked on this Cordoba courtyards map and are within easy walking distance of the historical centre. Keep an eye out for when the map is updated for the Cordoba Patio Festival 2024. The Juderia district is a logical choice, as it surrounds the Mezquita and takes you through some of the city’s most atmospheric streets. It makes sense to combine this old Jewish quarter with the Alcazar Viejo route, as they’re relatively close together.
Some of the patios in these districts may be open after the festival, but it’s not clear which ones are. This is why we focused on the Alcazar Viejo during our late May visit, and suggest you do too if it’s your first time in Cordoba.
How to visit the Cordoba Patio Festival
You can take in the patios independently or on a guided tour during the festival period. If you go it alone, entry is free. If you’re visiting by yourself without a guide, it’s a good idea to download the festival map which shows the locations of the patios of Cordoba.
They’re spread out across the old city, so it’s best to focus on one or two areas to make it manageable. Many people start with the San Basilio patios in the Alcazar Viejo district, as they seem to be the most well-known. Then you can work your way up through the city, stopping for refreshments at the cafes and bodegas along the way.
Visiting the Cordoba Patios outside of the festival dates
Wandering through the historical streets of old Cordoba is one of the best ways to experience the city. During the flowering season, the alleyways are scented with jasmine and orange blossom, and sometimes music spills out into the evening air, drawing you in with its sultry notes. In certain areas, you’ll come across open doors with signs inviting you in to visit a patio. Usually, there are plant pots on either side of the entrance. These are doors into another world, far from the crowds of the Mezquita and the burning sun in the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs. It’s a unique experience, and one you shouldn’t miss.
There are a few different ways you can visit the Cordoba patios outside of the festival dates. The main area that remains open after the festival is the Alcazar Viejo district, which isn’t far from the Mezquita. This covers the popular San Basilio patios, which are some of the most-visited in the city.
Guided tours of the Cordoba Patios
The easiest way to visit is with a local expert. Guided tours through the Cordoba patios are a great option if you want to see some of the best courtyards without the hassle of having to navigate to them yourself.
You’ll meet your guide, enjoy a short introduction to the patio tradition, and then head off on your tour. Several different patios will be included on the route, and you’ll often receive an input from the guide or the patio owner at each spot.
Most of the tours take place in the Alcazar Viejo neighbourhood, which is where you’ll find some of the best patios, all close together.
Visit the Cordoba patios independently
The purpose of our visit was to photograph the San Basilio patios, so we didn’t fancy joining a tour as this would mean the courtyards would always be crowded with people. So, we decided to strike out alone, armed with the map downloaded from the official website.
To be honest, although we missed out on the guide inputs, it was far preferable to wander around independently. It meant we could time our visits to avoid the crowds, take all the photos we wanted and spend as long as we wanted at each. We found the owners more than happy to chat about their patios and it was fun meeting the people who bring this Cordoba tradition to life.
Is it free to enter the Cordoba patios?
During the Courtyard festival in Cordoba, it’s free to visit the patios independently. Hosts do appreciate a tip if you like what you see – this helps them continue to create and preserve this special tradition. You can also visit on a paid tour to make the most of your experience.
Outside the Cordoba festival weeks, entrance costs are a little more confusing. We found that for most patios, we could just wander in for free and that there were tip dishes by the doors for those who wished to make a small donation. This is what we did, leaving a Euro at each spot. Some places asked if we had a ticket (which we didn’t) but let us in anyway. There was just one exception, at number 2 Calle Duertas, where the owner refused to let us in without a ticket, despite us offering a donation.
To be honest, we didn’t think we were missing much as we’d already ticked off seven gorgeous patios in the Alcazar Viejo area and were content to leave it at that. We later discovered that there is a ticket office for this area, which covers the patios of San Basilio and the neighbouring roads. You’ll find it at the junction of the San Basilio and Martin de Roa streets (Google Maps coordinates: 37.876835, -4.783514).
However, we decided that we’d have ended up paying far more with a ticket than we did with donations. A ticket costs €10 per person and only really makes sense if you’re planning on visiting around 10 patios (although it does include entry to the Ethnographic Museum and a bit of food tasting). More information can be found on the dedicated Patios de San Basilio website.
When can you visit the Cordoba patios?
We found it quite confusing to work out when to visit the Cordoba patios. It wasn’t clear whether it was possible to visit the Cordoba courtyards all the year round, or if they were only open during the May Patios of Cordoba Festival. For this reason, it could be wise to book a Cordoba patios tour and go with the experts who know what’s what.
In a nutshell, if you want to see as many patios as you can, and soak up the full atmosphere, you should come when the Cordoba patios festival is on. Which means being here during the first couple of weeks in May.
However, if you can’t make it during the festival, all is not lost. Whilst the majority of the residential patios do close after the festival, there are still a decent number whose doors remain open to the public throughout the year. These are mainly the San Basilio patios in the Alcazar Viejo district.
When are the Cordoba patios open during the day?
During the Los Patios de Cordoba Festival, the courtyards are open between 11 AM and 2 PM, and 6 PM and 10 PM. Remember that in Spain, things tend to close in the afternoon for a siesta so plan your sightseeing accordingly!
Outside of the festival season, the patios that remain open have similar hours, although these can vary between the different residences. Generally speaking, we found the patios were accessible from 10 AM, with a break for lunch before opening again in the early evening.
The general rule is, if the door is open and there are plant pots and a sign outside, you are welcome to enter. If the door is closed, you’ll need to come back later.
San Basilio Patio opening times
Throughout the year, the San Basilio patios are usually open during the following hours:
- November – March: 10:30 AM – 12 PM and from 4:30 PM
- March – June and August – November: 10 AM – 12 PM and from 5 PM
- July: Closed
Do check the San Basilio patios website for current opening times.
Note that the patios are closed on Tuesdays and Sunday afternoons!
Best time to see the Cordoba patios
To see the blooms in their full splendour, you should come to the city during the Cordoba Patio Festival at the start of May. This is when the plants will be in their prime, with the residents having spent the preceding weeks tending to the displays, keeping them immaculate for the competition.
However, unless you’re a die-hard plant fan and want to see a whole host of patios, I recommend coming just after the festival, in the second half of May. The crowds will have died down, but the Cordoba courtyards will still be beautiful since the competition has only just passed.
We visited a few days after the festival ended, and although it was still quite busy in places, it was possible to enjoy the patios in peace with a little patience. There weren’t as many patios open as during the festival, but even so, there were far more than we had the time or inclination for, and we were pleased with the ones we got to see.
It’s worth noting that May in Cordoba is a lovely time of year to visit. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining but it’s not yet too hot like it will be a couple of months later.
The Association of Friends of the Cordoba Patios
The patios of Cordoba have become such a popular concept over the past few decades that the Association of Friends of the Cordoba Patios was established. The organisation was set up back in 1974 to preserve this unique Cordoba tradition of floral courtyard decoration. Today, there are hundreds of members across the city and further afield, with the boom in interest leading to the creation of the Cordoba Patio Festival.
You can visit the headquarters of the association at number 44 Calle San Basilio. It’s free to enter and is home to one of the prettiest patios in Cordoba. You’ll probably have seen pictures of it on Instagram – it’s the one with the steps in the centre of the courtyard, surrounded, of course, by flowers.
There are exhibition spaces at the headquarters in San Basilio too, showcasing other local cultural traditions and artisan crafts. When we were there, it was pottery!
The 12 patios of the Palacio de Viana
If you’re short on time, or visiting outside the main patio season, then head up to the Palacio de Viana for your Cordoba courtyard fix. This is the largest collection of patios in Cordoba – there are 12 – set in the grounds of an elegant mansion which you can also explore during your visit.
The patios at the Viana Palace have been established over hundreds of years, so they’re pretty hard to beat when it comes to aesthetics. These courtyards often win at the Cordoba Patio Festival, and it’s easy to see why.
We loved strolling around the patios at the Palacio de Viana but felt the ones in private homes around the city just had that extra touch of enchantment. Tickets for the Palacio de Viana patios cost €7, and in our opinion, it’s well worth it.
During our May visit, we found that the Palacio de Viana wasn’t crowded, and it was much easier to take photographs without people in them than it was in the smaller, domestic patios. Just worth bearing in mind if you’re a keen photographer.
The best patios of Cordoba
Of course, the subject of the best patios in Cordoba is a subjective one. They are all unique and truly beautiful in their own way. For us, our favourites included number 2 Martin de Roa (for its high whitewashed walls and abundant flowerpots), 20 San Basilio (for its Moorish arches), and 44 San Basilio (for the unique central staircase surrounded by flowers).
We don’t know yet what the Cordoba Festival 2024 has in store, but if it’s anything like previous years, you’ll be in for a treat no matter which places you visit.
Cordoba patio tribute sculptures
Dotted around the city there are a handful of patio-themed sculptures that are well worth seeking out if you’re in the area. The first is the Abuelo y Niño, featuring statues of a grandfather and grandson watering plant pots. It represents the generational tradition of the patios and can be found at the end of Calle Martin de Roa in the Alcazar Viejo district, right outside patio number 7 (Google Map coordinates: 37.877270, -4.783850).
The second sculpture is La Regadora, which is installed at Plaza Puerta del Rincón (Google Maps coordinates: 37.888540, -4.776239). You can easily combine seeing this with a visit to the Plaza de Capuchinos. This statue is a woman watering her plant pots with a long cane, as is traditional when tending to the high-walled patios. Cordoba has quite a few statues, but this is one that really stands out as being a bit different!
There’s a third sculpture called El Pozo de las Flores, which features a grandmother and a girl – the latter is learning how to care for the patio. There’s an empty seat here so you can pose with the statues if you wish. You’ll find this in the north of the old town, on Plaza del Poeta Juan Bernier (Google Maps coordinates: 37.887870, -4.770529).
Planning your visit to the Patios de Cordoba
- The official Fiesta de los Patios de Cordoba website is the place to start when planning your visit. On here you’ll find the festival schedule as well as a handy map showing where all the open patios are located. If you’re intending to take in the Cordoba Patios Festival 2024, bookmark the site and come back nearer the time to see which houses are participating.
- The San Basilio Patios website has information about the courtyards in the Alzazar Viejo district, which are open all year round. You can buy tickets on the site, or in person at the ticket office at the end of San Basilio.