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As patio in are Spanish and Portuguese , the courtyards called a town house in the center.

Historical development

A forerunner of such courtyards is u. a. the cleaning site of ancient Egyptian temples, which was in front of the actual cult room. Inner courtyards can later be found throughout the Mediterranean . In Italy they were more likely to be built near large palaces outside the city, whereas in Andalusia small houses were also given patios . The typical form of the Catalan pati is to be classified between these two. It is usually part of the city ​​palaces built by the rich, often aristocratic population .

For example, historic patios are considered the city's cultural heritage in Palma , Mallorca . A number of plants are therefore under monument protection . Patios are also widespread in Andalusia . Most of the older houses there have small courtyards. Cordoba in particular is famous for the number and beauty of its usually rather small patios. A competition for the most beautiful patios has been held there every May since 1993 ( Concurso de Patios Cordobeses ). For this occasion, dozens of private, otherwise inaccessible patios are open to locals and tourists. Courtyards in historic houses are also common in the Canary Islands .

Patios are evidence of both the wealth and the social importance of their builders and owners. As domestic centers and meeting points, they used to be the scene of economic and social life.

Patios in Palma de Mallorca


Patio in Palma de Mallorca

The individual components of the Palacios are grouped around a patio. A curved and decorated staircase usually leads to the gallery on the first floor . In the very old palaces, the stairs were still attached directly to the house walls. Later, in the Renaissance and especially in the Baroque , magnificent open staircases were built , of which the owners were particularly proud.

Wells are also indispensable for the inner courtyards . In addition, there was also the requirement that at least 25 riders and their horses had to be comfortably seated in the inner courtyard. This is a legacy of the chivalrous zeitgeist. Torches that illuminated the courtyard had to be placed in such a way that one could ride under it on horseback.

Much more important, however, was the patio as a reception room for the owner's farm workers . There were also chairs and benches along the walls on which the peasants sat and negotiated with their employer. This usually had an office to the right of the main entrance, which could also be reached via a small staircase. In the patios, symbolically speaking, the country meets the city.

The family, which was often large, lived on the first floor of the city palaces, the so-called Planta Noble . “Families often had four to six children, and the oldest son usually lived in the house with his family. If you include servants and staff, up to 30 people could easily live in a palace. ” The servants usually lived on the second floor above the Planta Noble . And above it was another mezzanine, based on the Italian model, which served as a storage room. However, the agricultural products were often stored directly in the patio before they were either exported or sold.

Sandstone arches

A striking feature of Mallorca are the Mallorcan semi-arches or basket arches, which are completely different from the Italian model . This shape resulted from the material used for the construction, the limestone Marès from Santanyí. This building material, to which the cathedral owes much of its beauty, could not be forced into the Italian Renaissance arches, but only processed into arches that were flattened in height.

The facades are all simple, sometimes with a loggia , like the Palacio Solleric or the Consulado del Mar provided. The portals, which have metal, sometimes gilded door knockers , are also simple . Their forms were also imported from Italy. The Arabic name aldaba for the door knockers indicates, however, that this was already a custom among the Arabs .


The inner courtyards in the center of Palma can only be visited for a limited time and are open. Guided tours are also offered in German. The tourist information offices have brochures listing all 57 patios with a brief description.

See also