Córdoba in May

One of the first thing my new friends asked me upon my arrival in Córdoba last January was whether I would be there in May. Happily, I was, because as one friend announced poetically: "Córdoba es mayo y mayo es Córdoba." Córdoba is May and May is Córdoba. It is the most beautiful time of year to be in the city. This is partly due to the gorgeous weather, which unleashes a riot of colorful blooms in every garden and window box. And it's also due to the traditional events, of which there are three.

Locals weren't exaggerating when they told me that May in Córdoba is one big party. The already lively city vibrates with warmth and color, and everyone is ready to socialize over a glass of wine or beer.

  Vino fino , the region's specialty.

Vino fino, the region's specialty.

The month starts with Las Cruces de Mayo, in which various religious orders (called Hermandades) create beautiful floral crosses throughout the city and set up food and drink stands next to them. Cordobeses eat tapas, drink rebujitos (white fino wine mixed with Seven-Up), and dance the sevillana, which I tried and failed to imitate on several fino-fueled occasions. 

 A small but elaborate  cruz de Mayo .

A small but elaborate cruz de Mayo.

 A particularly gorgeous  cruz  in the outdoor cinema  Cine Olimpia.

A particularly gorgeous cruz in the outdoor cinema Cine Olimpia.

 My favorite combination of colors here is blue and stark-white.

My favorite combination of colors here is blue and stark-white.

 The  cruces  were open every day for drinking, eating, and dancing from noon til 2am.

The cruces were open every day for drinking, eating, and dancing from noon til 2am.

 A  cruz  paired with a classic view of the Guadalquivir river,  Torre de la Calahorra , and Mezquita-Catedral.

A cruz paired with a classic view of the Guadalquivir river, Torre de la Calahorra, and Mezquita-Catedral.

Next came the famous Fiesta de los Patios Cordobeses, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site/Event. Basically, private homes with stunning interior patios open their homes to the world for free so that we all can gape at their incredible floral art and architecture. I had been looking forward to seeing the patios from the moment I decided to move to Córdoba, since they were one of the things I loved most about the city when I first visited. (Also, on my last night in Córdoba in January, a gardener/author gave me a children's book he wrote about the patios that made me want to live here, but that's a story for another day.)

The festival took place May 1-13 and did not disappoint. I visited the patios on several different occasions, and through a local connection ended up spending many a tranquil afternoon writing and reading in one of the patios when the host closed it for the afternoon siesta. I can honestly say that these patios are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The photos won't do them justice, but I tried!

 The traditional water pitcher of the patios, called a  botija , offers fresh water to visitors. 

The traditional water pitcher of the patios, called a botija, offers fresh water to visitors. 

 The bougainvillea canopy in one of the patios of the Santa Marina neighborhood.

The bougainvillea canopy in one of the patios of the Santa Marina neighborhood.

 A feline resident of Patio Vesubio, the San Lorenzo patio where I spent many happy afternoons.

A feline resident of Patio Vesubio, the San Lorenzo patio where I spent many happy afternoons.

 The Patios of Córdoba are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known in Spanish as "Patrimonio de la Humanidad."

The Patios of Córdoba are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known in Spanish as "Patrimonio de la Humanidad."

 Glamour shot of geraniums, which seem to be the official flower of Córdoba.

Glamour shot of geraniums, which seem to be the official flower of Córdoba.

 The most famous feature of Cordobés patios are the flower-covered walls, which gardeners water with a complicated system of pulleys, watering cans, and irrigation technology.

The most famous feature of Cordobés patios are the flower-covered walls, which gardeners water with a complicated system of pulleys, watering cans, and irrigation technology.

 My other favorite feature of the patios: the fountains.

My other favorite feature of the patios: the fountains.

 These weird-ass pink flowers were in all of the patios competing in the "Modern" category and I loved them.

These weird-ass pink flowers were in all of the patios competing in the "Modern" category and I loved them.

 Arguably the most famous patio, which wins its category most years, is this one in San Basilio.

Arguably the most famous patio, which wins its category most years, is this one in San Basilio.

 Easily my favorite patio, located in the San Basilio neighborhood and filled to the brim with blooms.

Easily my favorite patio, located in the San Basilio neighborhood and filled to the brim with blooms.

 This is pretty much how I was in every patio: awestruck, delighted, and always looking up.

This is pretty much how I was in every patio: awestruck, delighted, and always looking up.

Finally came the feria, a weeklong party with ostensibly religious origins that feels much more hedonistic than pious. Picture a county fair but with Spanish touches of wine, tapas, and traditional flamenco dresses and Cordobés hats. Casetas, or little houses, offer music, dancing and drinks. The feria in Sevilla is more famous, but from what I've heard the one in Córdoba is more fun, since the casetas here are open to the public; in Sevilla they're private and you have to know someone to get in, The hours? 2pm to 7am. Every. Day. Needless to say, I needed a few days to catch up on sleep after the bumper cars and all-night dancing I enjoyed at the feria. 

 The lit-up  portada,  or entrance to the  feria,  is modeled after the arches of the Mezquita.

The lit-up portada, or entrance to the feria, is modeled after the arches of the Mezquita.

 With my hermanita Sara on the Puente Romano, on our way to the  feria . The Mezquita is in the background.

With my hermanita Sara on the Puente Romano, on our way to the feria. The Mezquita is in the background.

 Women dress up for the  feria  in traditional flamenco dresses, complete with hundreds of ruffles and high heels. Since those outfits cost hundreds of euros, my friend Sara opted for a flower in her hair and I nabbed a piece of the men's traditional costume:  el sombrero Cordobés.

Women dress up for the feria in traditional flamenco dresses, complete with hundreds of ruffles and high heels. Since those outfits cost hundreds of euros, my friend Sara opted for a flower in her hair and I nabbed a piece of the men's traditional costume: el sombrero Cordobés.

Less than two months after May ended, I was back in the United States and wishing I could teleport to my favorite city in Andalucía. Here's to many more Mays in Córdoba in my future.