EcoSalon’s City Postcard Series: The Flowers in Córdoba

A first person travel report: this month, live from the ancient and fragrant Spanish city of Córdoba, Spain.

A flower and garden theme has emerged this month and last in Shelter. We’ve featured ideas for urban gardeners and house planters; propaganda-ish posters for homesteading activists. Now reportage from the azalea bushes of the lush and abundant Spanish gardening tradition.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to the Andalucian city of Córdoba for their annual Patio Contest. A typically regional way of reigning in Andalucia’s most glorious season – i.e., with a preliminary religious activity followed by a massive sangria-fest – what sets the ancient Roman and Islamic city of Córdoba apart is that flowers become the conduits for all things fiesta.

A total of three flower events characterize Córdoban spring. First, La Batalla de las Flores (the Battle of the Flowers), a procession of flower-covered floats with gypsy-styled women tossing single-stemmed flowers into the crowd.

Next, Cruces de Mayo – the religious component featuring large wooden crosses, covered with flowers. They’re erected in various plazas, and accompanied by makeshift bars and much dancing.

Finally, the Patio Contests wherein private homes and buildings are opened up for public oohing and ahhing.

All of this is followed by the Feria, which, in itself, is another floral event considering the traditional outfits worn by the women:

Like freshly picked roses from the bouquet that is Feria.

Should you find yourself in the city for this year’s events or next, some useful information to keep on hand:

While there, eat the regional specialty, Salmorejo Cordobés (a creamier version of gazpacho). If you fancy a very expensive-but-worth-every-euro bowl, try it at El Caballo Rojo in el barrio de la Judería. Meanwhile, the city’s most convenient (and cheapest) bowl can be had at Bar Santos on the Magistral González Francés side of the Mezquita. Bar Santos is also home to the world’s biggest tortilla.

Apart from the flowers, take in the Mosque/Cathedral Mezquita. Where religious harmony has failed, architectural harmony can be found here in a perfect blending of Moorish and Christian design.

See, too, the Roman Bridge. Constructed in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river, it’s hard to miss.

This year’s festivities, including the Patio Contests and fair are on now until May 26.

Images: author’s own, Jeronimo Tinico, Juan José Ferres Serrano, Reji K. A, Patrick Down

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.