CORDOBA - FIESTAS
Semana Santa, is very important in Cordoba. The week leading up to Easter, and especially Holy Thursday and Holy Friday, is full of ritual, display and devotion. Throughout the week, costaleros from Thirty Catholic associations, or brotherhoods, bear images of the Passion of Christ and of the Virgin Mary on their shoulders through the narrow streets for hours, taking turns in teams of about 30. These massive, wooden pasos are carved, gilded platforms for the images and carry elaborately depicted Biblical scenes. They seem to float through the crowds, rocking gently with the trained step of rows of unseen costaleros, whose difficult maneuvers become acts of Faith. Thousands of candles and masked penitents leading the way and trailing behind, accompanied by music, add to the solemnity and symbolism.
In early May, a contest for the most beautifully decorated courtyard, Patio. The Patio Festival is a unique opportunity to step into private homes, whose owners-after caring for hundreds of plants and flowers all year long-open their patios to the public in early May. People from the city and abroad enjoy their hospitality and marvel at the variety of the decorations and plants, just when the geraniums, roses, carnations and other flowers are in full bloom. For travelers in search of authentic experiences, this tradition is ideal. Cordoba`s streets and plazas are a delight to explore, but the city`s private houses--many hundreds of years old--shelter beautiful little corners which are waiting to be discovered.
Also in May, Las Cruces de Mayo is a spring festival which has been revived in recent years. Neighborhoods and associations around the city set up crosses in public squares, covering and surrounding them with flowers. The Festival has its roots in the celebration of the exuberance of life and its triumph over death following the Easter season--it is a massive, lively street party welcoming back the warm weather. The best crosses are worth seeing, and around a few of them there is still a traditional festive atmosphere, where some women wear colorful flamenco dresses, people drink chilled Montilla-Moriles wine and the most danced-to songs are `sevillanas.`
The Cordoba Fair (la Feria) finally arrives in late May, and people young and old flock to the dusty, noisy fairgrounds to see the inaugural fireworks and start 9 days of merrymaking. You won`t see the cattle and agricultural goods which are the origin of the fair, apart from horses on mornings during the first five days, before the big crowds arrive. While there are noisy streets featuring carnival rides, games and fair food, the main attraction are the "casetas". These covered areas, with their own bars, kitchens, music and dance floors set up by social clubs and associations to provide a place for their members, their families and their friends to celebrate that week. Best of all, unlike the famous Seville Fair, most casetas in Cordoba are open to non-members (and there is no entry charge). There is something for everyone, and it is fun to go from place to place in search of the best food, the best music and the best party. Like in the Crosses festival, modern dance music and pop culture is gradually gaining ground over traditional Andalusian music and dress, but it is still a good place to see an authentic Andalusian festival and have a good time.