• Inspirational Courtyard Gardens of Cordoba

    view through doorway of courtyard gardenglimpse of a verdant garden through a wrought iron gateIt’s hardly surprising that the Spanish city of Cordoba has some of the world’s most inspiring courtyard gardens. They’ve been perfecting them for hundreds of years. When the Moors conquered Spain, Cordoba was at the heart of their Caliphate and courtyards were an essential element of their buildings. They brought with them the concept of an enclosed garden to provide a cool and shady refuge from the heat of summer. Walk down any street in the city today and you will glimpse this style of garden through doorways, or framed by wrought iron gates.mature trees in the courtyard of the great mosqueThere are grand public courtyards – including that of The Great Mosque with its chequerboard of orange trees – but it’s the domestic gardens that are the richest source of inspiration. During the first two weeks of May they are at their peak with balconies and walls cascading with vivid displays for the Festival de Patios, but even in quieter times of year there’s plenty to admire as I found when I went in the autumn.

    Patio de Naranjasromantic courtyard garden
    teracotta pots on a white courtyard wallAbout half-an-hour away from the tourist-filled streets around the Mosque, the courtyards of the Viana Palace had just a handful of visitors which meant it was possible to linger and appreciate the details and pace ourselves so that most of the time we had each of the twelve courtyards to ourselves. Although called a palace, it’s more a cluster of houses, some grand, some modest, within an enclosing wall. They have been built and altered over the centuries and each has its own courtyard garden that interconnects with its neighbours.pleached trees line a courtyard wallwater feature bubbles away in courtyardgarden pots on cobbled path in courtyardplenty growing in this courtyardclimbers cascade down white wall in courtyardpots dotted around raised pond in courtyardarchway and pot in courtyard garden

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