The Watch

Courtyard Houses of Axerquía

Córdoba, Spain

The historic center of Córdoba in Spain is one of the largest historic districts in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, when the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba was inscribed. The designation expanded to include the entire district in 1994. The city was founded as a Roman settlement in 206 BC, and flourished as a center of knowledge during the years of the Caliphate of Córdoba, between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Due to its urban morphology of narrow and irregular medieval streets, the city developed amorphous blocks with different plot sizes for different usage typologies: convents, urban palaces, public buildings, and courtyard houses (casa-patio).

Today, Córdoba is internationally known for its courtyard houses and the Fiesta de los Patios—an annual festival which receives thousands of visitors and is recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Córdoba is at the center of an ongoing debate about the overwhelming impact of mass tourism on the community life of the neighborhood. The historic district is suffering depopulation as long-term residents abandon their courtyard houses seeking a more comfortable life away from mass tourism. In recent years, PAX-Patios de la Axerquía was established by local groups to regenerate the historic center by restoring the abandoned courtyard houses via citizens groups constituted in housing cooperatives. The innovative operation of governance fosters a change of the urban model, fighting against gentrification and allowing the people of Córdoba to reclaim their city’s historic environment.

The Courtyard Houses of Axerquía were included on the 2020 World Monuments Watch to place a spotlight on local efforts to repopulate the historic district and encourage further stakeholder and government engagement. WMF will support the local community in their efforts to change the paradigm and ensure a more resilient and inclusive historic center in Córdoba.

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