The Patio Festival of Cordoba


Keen gardeners know that May is one of the best times to visit Andalucía, not only for the beautiful wildflowers to be seen on country walks but for the incredible annual Patio Festival in Cordoba. Since Roman times, the inhabitants of Andalucía have used the courtyard garden as a cool, tranquil refuge from the heat of summer.  Innumerable flowers in ceramic planters and tinkling water features provide a beautiful outdoor room for rest and relaxation. The Moors bought the tradition of courtyard gardening to a new level, as can been seen at the stunning gardens of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, and this tradition has continued in Andalucian homes right up to the present day.

The Patio Festival lasts for 12 days, during which time private and communal gardens are thrown open to the public and homeowners compete to display the most beautiful patio, with some stunning results! In 2019 the Festival will take place from the 6th to the 19th of May. Cordoba is just 30 minutes by train from Antequera Santa Ana, so guests at Casa La Sierrecilla will easily be able to enjoy this wonderful occasion, not to mention all the other stunning sites of Cordoba.

But don’t worry if you’re not able to visit in May. The stunning Palacio de Viana with its 12 beautiful courtyard gardens is open all year round, as are the gardens of the Alcazar and of course the highlight of any visit to Cordoba, the Mezquita or Great Mosque. Find out more about Cordoba here.

What makes a villa truly child-friendly?

Villa holidays with a toddler can be exhausting! When our eldest son was small we tried (and failed) to find a villa where we could all relax together. Unfenced pools and gardens caused constant anxiety and the few toys and activities we could bring with us lost their appeal after a couple of days.

So when we bought Casa La Sierrecilla we wanted to create the kind of holiday that we had been looking for before and never been able to find! Our priority was a gated pool, as we knew from experience that parents can never relax where a pool is unfenced - and our third child was only two at the time! The pool is surrounded with non-slip tiles to avoid any accidents. A dedicated space for children to play was also important, so we put our children’s huge film collection in the playroom together with plenty of books and toys. It has always given us great pleasure to see how excited our smaller guests are when they first see the playroom!

Luggage space is limited so we provide plenty of essentials in the villa such as a baby monitor, baby bath, electric bottle warmer, 3 toddler bed guards, sippy cups, plastic plates and cutlery, Avent microwave steriliser and potties. We also have two wooden cots for which we provide sheets and blankets, two high chairs and stair-gates.

Andalucia is a fantastic destination for families, not least because children are so welcome in the vibrant bars and restaurants. So families can enjoy eating out together during their holiday - and at very reasonable prices! Our local village of Humilladero is just 1 kilometre away – one minute in the car – so there’s no need to cook if you don’t feel like it. There are no hushed silences or critical glances – Andalucian restaurants are full of families enjoying their meals together and it would be hard for the children to make more noise than the adults are making! In our experience children love tapas, and there are plenty of items on the Andalucian menu which appeal to them, such as rosada frita (crispy fried little pieces of fish) or filletillos (small slices of deliciously seasoned pork fillet).

We are now taking bookings for 2017. With six beautiful bedrooms Casa La Sierrecilla sleeps up to 15 guests, but is equally perfect for much smaller groups! If you would like to reserve your child-friendly villa holiday in this lovely part of Andalucia, visit the Casa La Sierrecilla website or book now on Owners Direct.

Sightseeing at our Villa in Andalucia (1) - Antequera

There are many beautiful towns in Andalucia, and Antequera is one of our favourites (just 20 minutes drive from Casa La Sierrecilla!). There is no shortage of sights for the traveller, with over 30 historic churches and monasteries and an ancient Moorish castle rising over the town. The vibrant town with its characterful bars, restaurants and excellent shops surrounds an old quarter of surprising tranquillity, where time seems to have stood still in its peaceful whitewashed streets – a wonderful place to enjoy a drink after a busy morning’s sightseeing.

Antequera’s comparative lack of fame makes it an appealing place to visit as the tourist hordes are largely absent, although those in the know do travel up from the coast to experience the real Andalucia. The main street, the Infante Don Fernando, is lined with busy pavement cafes where you can enjoy a drink or a cooling ice cream before heading up to the historic quarter. There are many excellent bars and restaurants, serving local dishes. One of the local specialities is porra antequerana, a cold tomato soup garnished with cured ham, eggs and/or tuna, which is really refreshing on a hot day – a more satisfying version of gazpacho. And be sure to pick up some of the delicious local pastries before heading back to the villa!

Read our article on Antequera for more details!

Eating out during your villa holiday at Casa La Sierrecilla

Casa la Sierrecilla is a fantastic villa for guests who want to experience traditional Andalucian cooking. There are several excellent bars and restaurants in the village, all showcasing authentic Andalucian cooking with typically fresh ingredients - the hallmark of the Mediterranean diet.

The Puentecillo has a long tapas menu and is the ideal place to while away the time while the less fortunate members of your group head to the village supermarket opposite! Bar Bakero is a very traditional bar, also with a long tapas menu. There are many other bars for those who wish to make an in-depth study of Andalucian tapas! A chilled glass of fino or a refreshing San Miguel beer are the perfect accompaniments and of course, the tapa will be free with your drink. Tapas are also very popular with children - ours love a crispy piece of fried rosada fish or a thin slice of tangy Queso Manchego. 

El Peñon, Humilladero

El Peñon, Humilladero

For those looking for a special family meal out the welcoming El Peñon near the village square is a great option, or the Herradura restaurant just up from the Bakero, and we were excited to find that the El Colmao restaurant is opening again on 26th August! Guests will find that it's possible for families to eat out on holiday far more cheaply than it would be on the coast, and of course, children are welcome everywhere!

Remember that the Andalucians start lunch at around 2 p.m in summer and eat dinner at 9 p.m or later! So don't worry about early bedtimes (or early mornings!). You'll see tiny local children out with their parents past midnight.  Adopt the Andalucian timetable and you'll have a wonderful holiday!