In Andalucía the month of May can be summed up in just one special word: Cordoba. At this time of year the ‘city of the three cultures’ celebrates several festivals, each with its own traditions, making it a favourite destination for a getaway. Golf also has a role to play in making this an ideal place to visit in spring, as we will see later in this article.
In fact, the May celebrations begin early in Cordoba. The ‘Cruces de Mayo de Cordoba’, which has just finished, began on 27 April and this year there were 48 beautiful floral crosses on display. Every year a competition is held to decide which cross is the loveliest.
For those who are not aware of the ‘Cruces de Mayo’, these are large crosses erected in the patios and public squares of the city, and decorated with flowers and lace shawls.
As is usual in Andalucía, no festival would be complete without a party atmosphere, and in Cordoba local residents’ associations and clubs set up temporary bars in the streets of the different districts so those visiting the crosses can refresh themselves with typical tapas and drinks. There is music and dancing, and the entertainment continues until late in the evening. A stroll through the San Basilio, San Andrés and San Agustín districts during this festival will provide visitors with an everlasting memory of Cordoba in May.
Until 13 May, around 40 of Cordoba’s patios are open to visitors during the day, and in the evening, amid the fragrance of jasmine and orange blossom, people gather together to listen to flamenco music and chat with friends: another unique and atmospheric experience for visitors to enjoy.
In the liveliest areas of the city, especially San Basilio and Alcázar Viejo, there are outdoor bars and music. The Friends of the Patios Association, which restores old houses in Cordoba, also opens those patios to the public during this festival.
The ‘Patios de Cordoba’ festival was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco in 2012 and it is a representation of the traditional Cordoban way of life, in houses with flower-filled patios, terraces and balconies. The participants open their patios to the public free of charge at certain times of day which are agreed in advance with the organisers.
The festival comes to an end with a street party in the San Basilio district, beside the Caballerizas Reales. The local residents’ association sets up a bar next to the Belén Tower, and the cafe-bars in Calle San Basilio play music and also sell drinks. The Patios Festival lasts for two weeks, and throughout that time there are numerous music and dance performances and a wide range of other activities.
To bring this month of festivals to an end there is the Cordoba Fair, which is held in honour of Nuestra Señora de la Salud, the patron saint of the city. The celebrations are centred around El Arenal fairground, where people dress in traditional costume, ride horses, and party in the numerous bars (called ‘casetas’). These are open to the public, and everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
The dancing, the sherry, the tapas, the costumes, the atmosphere: all these combine to make this fair a rival to those in any other Andalusian city. For those who enjoy bullfights, several take place at Los Califas bullring during the fair, including some very famous ‘toreros’.
The key to Cordoba’s success as a tourist destination lies in its history and culture. The city was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1994, and art and history ooze from every corner.
Cordoba is mainly known for its Mosque, a unique monument which shows the splendour of the Caliphate and also, amazingly, contains a Christian cathedral in the interior. Other attractions include the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, which was the fortress and palace of the Christian monarchs, the Roman bridge and Albolafía water wheel, the Calahorra tower, the Jewish quarter, the patios, the Plaza del Potro and numerous other enchanting places in this, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
For golf lovers, Cordoba also has some interesting options and this segment of tourism is becoming more popular in the area nowadays. Perhaps the best-known facility is the Club de Campo y Deportivo de Cordoba, a sports and leisure centre which opened in the 1970s thanks to the initiative of a group of golfing enthusiasts who decided to focus their efforts on promoting their favourite sport.
The club is situated in the Sierra Morena, with panoramic views over beautiful countryside. It covers 70 hectares, including woodlands of pine and oak trees. The course has very well-protected greens and although they are easy to read they always demand full concentration. The fairways are wide and surrounded by Mediterranean woodland. This is a technical course where players need to think hard if they are to complete it in as few strokes as possible.
Another option is the Pozoblanco Golf Club. Federated in 1982, the vegetation is predominantly oak trees. The nine-hole Cabeza Oliva golf course at Pozoblanco is easy to walk because it is mainly flat, so you can enjoy a day of golf without getting too tired. This course has enormous potential; it has been greatly improved and is set on one of the biggest grasslands in Europe.
Golf, then, is another reason to spend a few days in Cordoba. In May, those planning to play a few rounds will find this a unique destination in Andalucía, a city which brings together all the best of the region throughout the month. There is plenty of accommodation available, much of it in the heart of the historic city centre.
And to make this the perfect getaway, don’t forget to sample the Cordoban gastronomy: Montilla-Moriles wines, ‘salmorejo’ soup, Serrano ham and an endless range of delicious recipes made with the finest local products, to delight any palate.
In the city centre, visitors can find everything from the most traditional dishes to the most avant-garde and fusion cuisine. To sum up, then, Cordoba is the ideal destination for travellers who are in love with Andalucía.