of the well
Everything in this courtyard revolves around the simple and ancient well, as can be seen from the buckets of an old waterwheel, now defunct, that for a while gave the courtyard its name. The well takes its water from the Colodro stream, which flows underground and provides enough water to supply all the courtyards and fountains in the palace.
When the houses of the Counts of Torres Cabrera were incorporated into the palace during the time of Diego Rafael Cabrera Fernández de Mesa, in the 19th century, the Courtyard of the Well formed a set with the Courtyard of the Pool. At the end of the 19th century and early 20th century it was called the Courtyard of the Waterwheel due to the presence of this feature, which can no longer be seen.
This courtyard also contained the pool that was subsequently moved to the neighbouring courtyard when the palace was opened up to visitors. Under the Viana family, this courtyard continued to be a working area, part of the Gardeners-Wells-Pools trio. It was under the third Marquises of Viana that decorative pieces were added to give it a statelier feel.
The main feature of the courtyard is the well after which it was named, the inexhaustible water source for Viana, which allows the palace to have the special relationship with the water that is so important for Cordoban courtyards. Its hexagonal rim, neatly whitewashed and finished with a rim of bricks, stands out against the cobbled floor with small stones and the black of the wrought iron upper part. On the wire mesh that protects the well head we can find 4 waterwheel buckets originally inside the well. Another water feature in this courtyard is the font attached to the palace wall, with a grey marble figurehead in which one can read “Fuente de Doña Leonor” (Leonor’s Font), dedicated to one of the 2nd Marquis of Viana’s daughters.
Next to the font, a layer of ivy covers the palace walls, accompanied by holly ferns, calla lilies, “pig squeak”, a pink trumpet vine, a jasmine creeper and pots that change with the season, such as lantana (also known as “banderita española” after the Spanish flag), geraniums, etc. The centaureas, which are symbolic of this part of the palace, surround the rim of the well. As a complement to the plant vegetation, the courtyard contains several archaeological and decorative objects designed to give this working area a statelier appearance.
WATER IN CORDOBAN COURTYARDS
The Cordoban subsoil has always contained water coming down from the mountains to the river and this means that wells can be created. The poorest people took water from the public wells and fountains, of which there were many in the city; while private fountains were more typical of stately and monumental courtyards.
EARTHENWARE JUGS, PARIS STYLE
In 1925 the 2nd Marquis of Viana, José Saavedra y Salamanca, went to the Paris Exhibition of Arts and Industries, and sent word to his administrator that “Spanish gardens are fashionable. I have seen a very beautiful one, whose drawing I will bring to Córdoba with me, which is so small that it could be used for any of the courtyards in the Palace, and it has the novelty that old earthenware jugs standing one to one and a half metres high are used as plant pots. I therefore need all the earthenware jugs in the house to be gradually removed from their current location, ensuring that they are left with their old appearance”.
Flowering calendar for the main plants