Terrific heat, a burnt and barren landscape, and insects make it impossible to enjoy nature out-of-doors in most parts of Spain. So the Spaniards try to bring nature inside the house.
This they do by means of the hacienda architectural style courtyard, the little rectangular patio or garden that forms the center of the home.
In it a few shade trees are rooted in the ground or are set in tubs. A tiny fountain is in the center and little streams trickle out of it to the various garden patches. These are laid out in geometrical pattern with walks of brick, tile or gravel between.
Iron or stone benches (concrete would do) are placed in shady nooks. We in this country need not hoard nature in this careful way. But any house in the Spanish style may have at least a high wall of brick, stucco or whitewashed wood, enclosing a small formal garden and giving a feeling of seclusion.
The Spanish house is built around the patio. On three or four sides of
it, facing the garden, is an open arcade on the ground-floor with a deep
The columns holding up the balcony and the smaller ones
supporting the roof may be round, or square, of stone or brick, plain or
sheathed with stucco. The wide arches between them may be of plain
stucco or stone.
While the balcony overhead is usually plain, the arcade on the ground-
floor is one of the most beautiful parts of the Spanish house. Its floor is
of stone, brick or tile. Concrete or flagstones may be used, but some color
is desirable. One of the most beautiful effects may be obtained by wainscoting the wall with glazed tile.
Here the owner's love for color may have full expression, for the glazed
tile was brought to Spain by the Mohammedan invaders from North
Their religion prevented the use of human or animal forms in any
design; so their tile were "arabesque" patterns of blue, yellow, vermilion,
earth-red, black, green and other colors. Above this wainscot band the
wall and ceiling of the arcade are plastered or stuccoed with a palm-
The doorways may be plain openings in the thick walls
or they may be surrounded by bands of tile.
There is at least one entrance to the patio on each side. All these are
from various rooms, except one which leads through a hall to the street-
The roof is as near flat as the local rain and snow fall will permit. It is of terra cotta tile, varied in color. Its eaves those overhanging the balcony of the patio, as well as those on the exterior are wide, with the wooden roof-beams exposed.
Walls are thick, built of brick or small stone and covered, in forty-nine
cases out of fifty, with stucco.
This may be white, cream, buff or pink and
should be rough with a palm-finished surface. Because of the Spaniard's
secretive character, he made no attempt to beautify the exterior of his
home, but concentrated the decoration inside.
Windows are tiny openings in the thick walls. They may be round,
square or oblong. Usually they have no trim at all, though sometimes
they are surrounded by stone and often they are shuttered or barred with
photo credit: »Philo
There is only one street door. It, too, is usually quite plain a heavy, studded plank affair hung in a deep wall-opening but sometimes it is surrounded by heavy slabs of stone which may be sculptured.
Few Americans would care to present a house-front as severe as this
to the world. To make it more charming, an iron lantern may be fastened
over the entrance.
Or the window-bars may be developed into grilles.
Or the second-story windows may be enlarged into doors opening out onto little iron-work balconies.
It's rare to find a home with a beautiful inner patio and stark exterior… but this is truly the design of a real Hacienda Architectural Style Courtyard.