The tradition of the Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses) is famous in Cordoba - this festival is the first of many festivites in the city during this month of May - and Granada, especially on Dia de la Cruz, 5 May. But many other cities and towns around Andalucia also take part in this festivity, of dressing up crosses, and surrounding them with beautiful flowers and food offerings, in patios of private houses, palaces, hotels and churches, as well as plazas and other outdoor areas.
In the famously monumental town of Ecija, you can stroll the streets, marvelling at the imposing stone doorways, painted facades and tiled towers dating from the town's heyday in the 18th century, while also stopping to enjoy the crosses in the patios of houses, palaces and hotels. There are 24 to see in total, in all sizes; as many of the crosses are in private patios it feels more intimate than Cordoba's Cruces de Mayo festival - and much less crowded, too.
Even in May, the sun is already fierce, and Ecija is known as the sartenilla (frying-pan) of Spain. So shady, leafy patios are just the ticket.
The smaller, simpler crosses are often draped with panuelos (white cloths), symbolising the shroud which Joseph of Arimatea used to cover Christ's body when he took him down from the cross.
The Cruces de Mayo en Patios Ecijanos (May Crosses in Ecija's Patios) can be seen until 12 May, from 10am-8pm every day. (This is the theory at least; most close from 2pm-5pm for lunch, although if there's someone about, they may let you in to their patio to see the cross.) You can pick up a map showing where the 24 patios are from the Tourist Office on Calle Elvira.