The Patios of Cordoba are a multi-coloured bonanza of pots and plants. Tucked down alleyways and backstreets they offer a beautiful escape from the sun on those hot Spanish afternoons.


We have the Romans to thank for the patios of Córdoba. Founded by General Claudius Marcellus between 169 BCE and 152 BCE, Córdoba was – in its early years – the favoured conquest of a Roman empire expanding into Spain. But, after picking the wrong side in the civil war, Córdoba was sacked by Caesar to pay for the allegiance it formed with Pompey.

What was a bruised town thanks to vengeful Caesar, later became a building site for the new emperor Augustus. He made it a Colonia Patricia, built the walled perimeter and dished out generous land to war veterans. A housing boom was underway in Roman Córdoba.

THE PATIOS OF CÓRDOBA

Palacio de Viana  / Roman courtyard symmetry

La Casa Andalusí / Moorish inspired charm

San Basilio / Privately owned pride

Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs / Roman, Islamic and Visigoth decadence

MUSLIM INFLUENCE ON THE PATIOS OF CÓRDOBA

Due to the hot dry climate, the Roman style was imitated. Houses were built around a central courtyard with a well or fountain in the middle to collect rainwater. When the Muslims captured Córdoba in 711 CE, they continued the tradition of the patio, adding an entrance from the street and filling the patios of Córdoba with plants to add an element of lush coolness.

This Roman/Muslim fusion lives on today with the courtyard (patio in Spanish) being the central feature of both house and palace. Never to be outdone by predecessors, the Christian’s added their own flair to the city by constructing the ostentatious Castle of the Christian Monarchs shortly after they conquered Córdoba in 1236.

No visit would be complete without seeing the influence of Roman, Muslim and Christian heritage through their gorgeous patios and gardens – one of the many interesting things to do in Córdoba. With the scent of jasmine and orange blossom wafting in the air, strolling around the colourful streets and popping into the patios of Córdoba is the perfect way to earn that late afternoon glass of fino.

There are over 50 patios of Córdoba, far too many to collect in one visit. So, to make the most of your gorgeous Córdoba garden experience we’ve collected our favourites for you. For your viewing pleasure, we have a selection of traditional patios; a beautiful Moroccan house and a palace fit for Christian Kings.

PATIOS OF CÓRDOBA / PALACIO DE VIANA

Of all the patios of Córdoba, Palacio de Viana is probably the finest. Built in the 15th century, Palacio de Viana originally stuck to the Roman rules with a single courtyard in the centre of the house. But, after 5 centuries of expansion by the previous 18 owners, Palacio de Viana is now a sprawling palace that has slowly engulfed its neighbours. With a whopping 12 courtyards and a garden, it’s a great place to start a tour of the patios of Córdoba.

The patios at Palacio de Viana range from formal hedged symmetrically pleasing designs, to pot-filled colourful nooks. Thanks to the Arabic-Hispanic roots, water plays a key role in the look and feel of many of the gardens. Orange trees create a sense of Moroccan allure, while sculptured cypresses provide that dignified regal atmosphere you get after 5 centuries of entertaining royalty. Intricate mosaics, inviting blue doors, and interesting features all combine to create a beautiful atmosphere. If you have some flexibility in your Córdoba itinerary, Palacio de Viana is free Wednesday afternoons. Read our article with our favourite free things to do in Córdoba.


Palacio de Viana /10:00 –  19:00 Tue-Sat; 10:00 to 15:00 Sun and holidays. Closed Mon. Price: €5. Location: Plaza de Don Gome

PATIOS OF CÓRDOBA / LA CASA ANDALUSÍ

Located in the Jewish Quarter, La Casa Andalusí is a step back in time, reflecting the glorious days of the Caliphate. It’s a beautiful house/museum which contains one of the smallest patios of Córdoba, complete with water features and beautiful mosaics. Inside the house, there is a scale model of one of the first paper factories. This Chinese invention moved to Baghdad then across the Islamic Empire and entered Europe via the caliphate in Spain.

The house is full of Moroccan trinkets, books and exhibits that are interesting to inspect. A number of corners are covered in intricate Visigothic bas-relief, left over from the Germanic tribes who sacked old Imperial Roman cities. The basement has the remnants of the tunnels that ran under the houses in the Jewish Quarter and out under the city walls.


La Casa Andalusí / 10:00 – 19:00; Price: €4; Location: Calle Judíos, 12

PATIOS OF CÓRDOBA / SAN BASILIO

The patios in the San Basilio area are all part of privately owned houses with their garden oases on show for public pleasure. A ticket for €5 provides access to 5 great patios of Córdoba. Your ticket is often personally stamped by the owner on the way in, nobly standing proud as punch at the entrance to his realm. On our visit, number 5 was locked for some reason, but we made a bit of a racket out the front and the owner let us in. This worked beautifully for us because we were the only people in his little courtyard; no busloads of tourists to get in the way of our shots. There are a number of free patios in the area you can pop your head into as well.

The walls of the patios are covered with small plant pots which look like they require some diligent watering from dedicated owners. And they’re happy to do it. Each year patio owners compete in the coveted Courtyards and Crosses competition which takes place during the Patio Festival in the first week of May. All the patios are free during the festival and best enjoyed with a glass of fino from the nearby Montilla-Moriles region.


Patios of San Basilio / 10:00 – 14:00 & 17:00 – 19:00 (Nov, Dec, Feb); 10:00 – 14:00 & 17:00 – 20:00 (May & Sep); Price: €5; Location: Calle D San Basilio

PATIOS OF CÓRDOBA / ALCÁZAR OF THE CHRISTIAN MONARCHS

After conquering Córdoba, the Christian Monarchs set about building an impressive palace to house themselves. The Alcázar was built in 1328 on top of previous Roman, Islamic and Visigoth Ruins. Acting as both fortress and palace, it was the favoured home of many Christian Kings. It is also infamous for serving as the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition in 1482.

The interior doesn’t have much to see, except for a few mosaics and a weird chapel. A climb up to the tower, however, is well worth it for the great views of the Alcázar’s showpiece: the stunning gardens. While it may be a push to call these gardens on of the patios ofCórdoba, the expansive grounds consist of large ponds framed by extremely well-maintained trees. With the water features, excessive use of marble and beautiful mosaics, the whole compound has a spectacular grandeur. Most probably just what the Christian kings were going for.

Like Palacio de Viana, the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs also has a free period. See all the details in our favourite free things to do in Córdoba.


Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs / 08:30 – 20:45 Tue – Fri; 08:30 – 16:30 Sat; 08:30 – 14:30 Sun; Closed Mon. Price: €2.5. Location: Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires.

WHERE NEXT?

Nearby to Córdoba is Seville – one of our favourite Spanish cities, with its Mudéjar palace, a towering cathedral and some tantalisingly tasty cheap tapas it’s a perfect European weekender. Read our complete 3-day itinerary for Seville with all our tips and plans.

2 DAYS IN CÓRDOBA

TOURING THE WHITE VILLAGES OF ANDALUCÍA

AN ISLAMIC CALIPHATE IN CÓRDOBA

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below – we will always reply. But before you go any further why not follow us on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and TWITTER and sign up to our monthly NEWSLETTER.

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Our guide to collecting the gorgeous patios of Córdoba, Spain.

Our guide to collecting the gorgeous patios of Córdoba, Spain.

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