of the bars
The Courtyard of the Bars is one of the most commonly used and popular images of Viana, becoming a symbol of the palace and the neighbourhood where it is located. It is visible from the outside through a splendid Mannerist architectural structure and was designed to allow the public to see it and appreciate the social status of the palace’s owners.
This courtyard is a clear example of an area where the architecture dominates the plants. It is designed to impress and meet the need of the renaissance nobility to be seen, in the era of Don Gómez de Figueroa y Córdoba, 3rd Lord of Villaseca and fifth owner of the Palace. The architectural solution was a decorative façade composed of three Mannerist openings with wrought iron railings, completed in 1624 by the master builder Bartolomé de los Reyes y Cueto.
In the 18th century, with the construction of the Courtyard of the Archive, a visual line of communication was opened up along the north-south axis, so that the new rooms were connected to the outside through the Courtyard of the Bars. In this way, the Andalusian tradition of the private courtyard, very palpable in the Courtyard of the Orange Trees and lasting for centuries in Córdoba, started to be combined with other cultural and architectural influences.
This desire of the nobility to demonstrate their family’s status was to last for centuries and this courtyard was the perfect setting for this. From its construction up to the end of the 1980s, the noble families living in the palace used it as an excellent balcony from which to watch public event such as, for example, the passing of the Virgen de las Angustias (Virgin of Anguish) on Holy Thursday. It is significant that this courtyard never losses its greenery throughout the year. Since it is visible to the people passing by, it must always be attractive and this is achieved in part through the use of citrus trees on trellising.
Since its construction, the Courtyards of the Bars has been one of the most carefully tended areas of the palace, both for its beautiful architecture and for its visible nature, being designed to demonstrate the power of the family. Nowadays, this courtyard and its famous bars continue to be the best ambassadors of Viana Palace.
Sofía Amelia de Lancaster y Bleck (1904- 1982), 3rd Marquise of Viana, was a very keen gardener. In 1960 she ordered a greenhouse to be built in the Courtyard of the Pool so that the cineraria seedlings growing there could enjoy the same advantageous conditions as those in the pots grown by Ángela Romero de Torres, sister of the famous Cordoban painter, whose flowers were famous for being the most attractive. Both showed them off during the passing of the Holy Thursday procession.
A curious ritual
“Taking possession” was an act in which the noble person walked through the rooms that he or she had just inherited or bought, performing certain rituals. That performed by the 3rd Marquis of Villaseca (18th century) involved this courtyard: “… and he moved into the second part of the garden where there are three large bars that open out onto the street (…) and a fountain in the middle and he moved the water and threw a stone into it and cut branches from the lime trees, orange trees and rosemary bushes and looked through those bars and walked around it all…”
Flowering calendar for the main plants