Courtyards in Cordoba
Due to the hot, dry Cordoban climate, the city’s inhabitants, – first the Romans and later the Muslims – adapted the typical design of the popular house to their needs, making the home centre around an inner courtyard, normally with a fountain in the middle and often a well to collect rainwater. The Muslims made further adjustments, giving the house an entrance from the street which passed through a porch, and filling the courtyard with plants to give the sensation of freshness.
Types of courtyards
There are clearly two types of courtyard.
The first type is in a one-family home in which the rooms are arranged around the courtyard – it usually has arches and either a clay tiled or decorative pebbled floor.
The second type is called a neighbour-house (casa de vecinos). Here the individual homes look out onto the courtyard – however, these are much less common nowadays. It usually has two floors and the courtyard is made all the more attractive by the long balconies, staircases and baked clay roof tiles. The floors usually have decorative pebbles and there is often a well instead of a fountain, as well as a communal washing room.
Since 1918, the Town Hall has organised a competition of Courtyards and Crosses in the first week of May, and the owners decorate their houses with great care to try and win the prestigious award offered by the authorities. A festival runs in parallel with a number of performances by the best singers and dancers on the scene, while the local fino wine from Montilla-Moriles flows freely and delicious tapas are served.
It is thanks to these events that the Cordoban courtyard is becoming more and more important in popular festivities, and helps the general public to celebrate and welcome these festivals with enthusiasm and hospitality.
During these days in may all the patios will be open to the public and will be free of entrance.