Flowers, flowers and flowers. Córdoba is my kind of city. Festivals in Córdoba, a two hour train ride by AVE from Madrid, takes you to this elegant city. You can also go from Seville which is an hour and one half by train. Liz Carlson, our guest writer, used to live in Córdoba and recommends these fab five. Dance, music, food, and thousands of flowers. It doesn’t get much better.
By Liz Carlson
Without a doubt, the best time of the year to visit Córdoba, Andalucía is in May. Less than 2 hours from Madrid on the high speed train and situated between all of the beautiful cities of southern Spain, Granada, Sevilla, and Málaga, Córdoba is one of the most picturesque and oldest cities in Spain, the capital of the Islamic caliphate in the Middle Ages
Filled with narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses with hidden patios, outdoor cafes and historic monuments left and right, Córdoba is incredible anytime of the year, but in May it’s magical! Córdoba in May is famous all over Spain because it hosts many festivals and cultural events throughout the month. The whole city is covered with blooming, colorful flowers, and everywhere you can catch whiffs of fragrant orange blossoms. Here are 5 of the most famous festivals held in May in Córdoba.
1. Batalla de las Flores: To mark the beginning of a month of festivals there is a parade of flower covered floats throughout the city, with many people in costume and in the traditional gypsy dress. For the “Battle of the Flowers” they throw hundreds of thousands of flowers from the floats to the crowds of people.
2. Cruces de Mayo: The “May Crosses” festival is usually in the beginning of May, and it consists of dozens of big crosses made of flowers set up around the city. The brotherhoods (cofradía) of churches around the city compete to see who has the most beautiful cross. They set up outdoor bars next to the crosses and serve drinks and snacks and play music, usually flamenco. There are maps available of where all the crosses are around the city, and it’s fun to hop around and visit them all, drinking wine, eating the famous salmorejo (Córdoba’s gazpacho) and attempting to dance sevillanas with the locals.
3. Cata del Vino Montilla: Also known as Montilla -Moriles, Every year Córdoba hosts a wine tasting festival for white wines from its region for a few days. Montilla is just south of the city of Córdoba and is world renown for its dry white wines. Enjoying a tasting of the chilled white wines on a hot spring night is a great way to pass an evening with friends as well as getting to know the local wines.
4. Patios: Hands down this is my favorite festival in Córdoba. Owing to the hot, dry climate in Córdoba, since antiquity, houses have been built around a central, open patio filled with fountains, wells, plants, and you guessed it, tons of flowers! Most of these patios are in private houses, but for a week every May, they are open to the public during a competition for the most beautiful patio. Families all year growing these amazing plants to show off during the festival. There are maps available with open patios listed, previous winners, and even suggested routes. If you are going to make it down to Córdoba for one of these festivals, make it patios!
5. Feria: The annual fair (feria) in Córdoba is held at the end of May, the culmination of a month of amazing and visually stunning festivals. Perhaps the most famous feria in Spain is held in Sevilla, an hour of away from Córdoba. But unlike in Sevilla, the casetas (tents) where people eat, drink and dance in the shade in Córdoba are open to the public; you don’t need to know anyone or have an invitation to enter. Inside, you can dance the day and night away with many people dressed in the traditional flamenco dresses and gypsy costumes. Horses trot by carrying people in traditional Córdoba dress. Later, you can catch one of the many bullfights or see an outdoor concert in the evening.
Dates of festivals change year to year. To check festival dates, check out this site.
The high speed train from Madrid to Cordoba is AVE. The Scoopettes love this train as we feel like queens. Not all Spanish trains are this lux. Trains from Seville take about an hour. Liz has lived in many cities in Spain and writes about them here.
Liz writes Memoirs of a Young Adventuress which is about traveling and expat life abroad. Four years ago, she said goodbye to the freezing cold New England winters and hola to sunny warm Spain, and hasn’t looked back. Unsatisfied living in the same place for too long, she has called several cities in Spain home, from Salamanca to Madrid, Córdoba and Málaga, and now Logroño.